Saturday, November 19, 2011

Evaluating the Kindle Fire

Comparing the Kindle Fire to the original Kindle called the “Keyboard.”

MY BIAS: As you read this, please understand my bias. I’ve owned a Kindle Keyboard (hereafter just called Keyboard) for awhile and have hundreds of books on it. Many of the features in the Fire are similar, so learning the Fire may have been easier for me than someone who never used a Kindle. I’ve spend a couple of thousand dollars purchasing material for the Kindle, all of which is usable on the Fire. That is a powerful financial incentive to staying with the Kindle system and I have a total of six devices using it. Switching to another system would mean starting over. Thus I am likely to view the Fire with more favor than someone who is wedded to a different e-reader system.

Travel Consideration:  Although the new color readers (the ones less expensive than the iPad) are very attractive and fun to use, if you're traveling and cannot be sure of a Wi-Fi connection, stick with one of the older 3G readers where you can download your books or even buy them from other places in the world without incurring data usage charges.  A friend of mine downloaded a book on her Kindle Keyboard 3G while in Brazil.  Another friend downloaded a book on her original Nook 3G while in Chile.  Other friends visiting Europe and China similarly had no problem accessing new books on their 3G devices.  Wi-Fi is not always available.  I love using my Wi-Fi devices at home and many local places, but for distant travel, I'd trust the connectivity of a 3G device.

Loyalties and Financial Considerations: From an article on NYT web site by David Pogue: Now, choosing an e-reader is a big decision. Each company’s books are in its own proprietary format, and you can never sell or donate them. So if you choose, for example, a Kindle over a Nook from Barnes & Noble, the price for changing your mind will be very high.

The "company" referred to is the online digital book provider, not the copyright owner or the publisher of the printed copy.  What it means is that, without an adapter or an app, if you buy a Kindle eBook, you need a Kindle reader to read it.  Likewise the Barnes & Noble Nook.  Sure, with an adapter you can do it, but if you switch systems and want the ease of access, you have to buy new books in the new system. 

OTHER BIASES: People favor what they’re used to, so switching from one system to another can frustrate users of other systems. However, I do think it is totally unfair to compare the Fire to the iPad. The entry level iPad costs $500, more than twice the Fire, and if you want the extras, it can set you back $700-$800. I hardly think it’s a fair comparison. That’s like trying to compare my Rav4 to a Mercedes SUV. They’re not in the same league.

BASICS of Fire: Power on: Tiny button at bottom edge. (Some people online have complained about this and feel it should be on the top edge so you don’t accidentally turn it off. Others suggested reading upside-down—which works.) I haven’t accidently hit that button while using it, so bottom position is fine with me. Automatic turnoff time is preset at 5 minutes, but it is adjustable.

HOME screen: Turn power on, slide green arrow to left. Home screen appears. Display quality: Brightly colored, sharp, clear.

First I'm going to cover the problems to get them out of the way!

FIRST PROBLEM—lack of Categories: Most Keyboard users commenting on Amazon were disappointed to find that the Categories setup on the Kindle Keyboard (where you can group books however you like) is missing from the Fire. Instead someone got the zany idea that every blooming book ever bought or borrowed from the library should appear in the Carousel. You can rearrange them by Most Recent, Author, or Title, but you can't segregate them out into Categories like History, Art, etc. as you can on the Keyboard 3G.

SECOND PROBLEM on Fire--Carousel: The Carousel is a disaster. It displays everything you’ve ever bought including all the web pages you just visited. Gone is the simple front page of the Keyboard where you could show or hide whatever items you wanted. (For example, I had “Categories” on my Keyboard for Fiction, History, Science, Philosophy, Sci-Fi, etc.) The section for Favorites below the Carousel does not make up for the ability to set categories. From my own experience, and from the comments on Amazon, the Carousel is a major mistake. Fortunately, it’s software, not hardware, so it can be re-programmed. I hope.

THIRD PROBLEM--Slick and Slippery: The Fire is slippery. It’s nice to see they made it glossy (It’s like a mirror), but it’s so slippery you can drop it. Perhaps they are hoping for big sales of Skins ($24) to offset it. My plan is to put a tape strip on the back to grip after I decide whether I’m keeping it. Update:  I bought a skin.  Haven't got it yet, so jury still out on that.  The Kindle Keyboard, however, is easy to grip and lighweight to carry around.

WEIGHT: The Fire (Kindle Fire) weighs almost twice what the Kindle Keyboard weighs: 14.5 oz on my kitchen scale while the Keyboard weighs 7.6 oz on the same scale. I know that’s not terribly scientific, but since I’m weighing everything on the same scale, it should provide a good comparison. You might think that since the Keyboard (Kindle Keyboard) is far lighter, it might seem easier to handle. However, if you hold the Keyboard the way you hold a book, by its edges, you can accidentally advance several pages -- suddenly having no clue where you are. You have to learn to hold the Keyboard by its top or bottom edges to avoid that problem. Though one adapts to this, it can be a bit awkward at times, especially when reading in bed, and I do LOVE my Keyboard for its simplicity, long battery life, ease of use, and lightweight portability. No matter what I get, I’m not giving up my Keyboard.

Though the Fire is heavier, it can be held more like a book without accidentally advancing pages. Since it’s a touch screen, you don’t even have to lift your hands from the Fire. Tap right side of screen with your thumb to advance or left side of screen to retreat. Try not to sweep across the screen like an iPhone. (See Touch below) Reading with the heavier Fire in bed was easier with than with the Keyboard, mostly because it props up on pillows nicely, and you don’t have to hold it in an awkward position.

FONTS & READING PORTRAIT OR LANDSCAPE:  Both the Keyboard and the Fire allow you to change the size of the font, the spacing of the lines, and whether you read in the Portrait or Landscape position.  If you're visually impaired, you can make the text HUGE, set it to landscape, and still read smoothly. 
TABS/MENU on the Fire and Keyboard: Across the top of the screen there are 6 links and a search bar. These take you to sections like Books, Videos, Newsstand, Store, etc. They work well. They don’t quite make up for the Carousel on the Home page, but they help.  The Keyboard allows you to set up categories and has drop-down menus for accessing the web, the bookstore, and other online functions and they work via 3G.  The Fire's setup is easier to use, but doesn't have 3G.

THE CLOUD Compared to Device Storage: I think the Cloud is a really cool concept. Save space on your Fire by returning your book to the Cloud if you’re not reading it. Keep those books on the Device (Fire) that you’re currently reading or want to keep handy for reference. Transferring to and from the Cloud takes split seconds.

I liken the Cloud to the bookshelves in your house. When you want to read a book you take it off the bookshelf and use it. When you’re finished reading, you put your book back on the bookshelf where you find it whenever you want. You can upload your documents, iTunes music, and your photos to the Cloud. This greatly expands your available memory. You can also store whatever items you want on the Device (Fire). This is useful if you’re going to be anywhere there isn’t a Wi-Fi connection. While you can read or listen to music or watch a video directly from the Cloud, most people will want to store several current titles and their favorite photos on the Fire in case they are out of Wi-Fi range.

However, for absolute certainty of having access to the books you bought, the Keyboard 3G wins.  On the Keyboard you download the books.  It holds up to 3500, a huge library to carry around within 7.6 ounces.  If you forget to download the book you're reading on the Fire and go outside the Wi-Fi area, you're out of luck.  So, again, for travel, the Keyboard is more certain unless you remember to download whatever books you're reading onto the Fire.
TIME TO DOWNLOAD/UPLOAD--Fire: I timed the downloading of several different books from the cloud. Most downloaded in 2 seconds (as measured by my Atomic clock with the sweep hand). Very large tomes took 3 or 4 seconds. Certainly I’m not impatient enough to be put off by that. They go back to the Cloud instantaneously once you tap/hold on the title and choose either “put in Favorites” or “Remove from Device.” Removing from Device simply returns it to the Cloud. If you want to get rid of it forever, do it through Manage My Kindle online. Caution, once you do that, you have to pay if you want it again.

TIME TO DOWNLOAD/UPLOAD--Keyboard:  Downloading books onto the Keyboard via 3G takes a few seconds.  A really good feature if you're in France and need a book and don't know where the local Wi-Fi hotspots are.

BOOK TITLES on the Fire: Books can be displayed either with pictures of their jackets on bookshelves or in lists which allow you to see 18-20 titles at once. There’s a menu icon at the bottom of the screen which looks like a box with lines in it. Touch that to move from list to grid (bookshelves.) You can also search through the Search box at the top of the screen.

BOOK TITLES on the Kindle Keyboard: All the books you bought on the Keyboard go wherever the Keyboard 2G goes.  They can be arranged by category or left on the home screen. You can delete them if you want from the device without deleting ownership of them, but since few people are likely to take this device to capacity, deleting them is unnecessary.
BACK on the Fire: The back arrow at the bottom menu on any screen returns to your previous choice just as internet back arrows do and the little house returns you to the Home screen immediately.

BACK on the Keyboard:  There's a dedicated key to take you back and it works whether "back" is the last book you were reading, the last thing you viewed in the online bookstore, or the last item you were viewing online.

Page numbers vs. locations. Many readers, including me, don’t give a fig about page numbers. However many people care a great deal about them. The Keyboard was updated last year to include page numbers, but that feature is missing from the Fire. People who do research or who want to quote from a book prefer page numbers. Presumably, a software update will fix that, but since it took several months on the Keyboard, it probably won’t be right away.

The Slider Bar. Tap on any book page. At the bottom are the several icons (Home/Back arrow/Menu/Search) and a Slider Bar. Using the slider bar you can rush through any book as fast as you want. However, all Kindle products are excellent at returning you to the last point you read to in the book. And of course, it syncs with your other devices such as Kindle, Fire, and the Kindle app on the iPhone.

DICTIONARY: Press lightly and hold on any word for a definition. Options to go online for further information to places like Google or Wikipedia make notes or search for that word in the book appear. As I said, I’m comparing the Fire to my old Keyboard here, not yet to competitors of the Fire. The Keyboard could give you a lookup, but it was clumsy and slow. The Fire’s lookup is fantastic. For example, I read this in a spy novel, “Mark, grab me my REC7, will you?” Hunh? But tapping on the REC7 brought me to several articles online about advanced weaponry. I could never do that with the Kindle Keyboard. Yes, I know the iPad and other devices probably had that already, but it was lovely getting it on a Kindle product.

BOOKMARKS: Tap near the top of the screen on any book page. A little bookmark symbol appears. Tap it to put a bookmark on that page. Easy-breezy.

HIGHLIGHTING: I was taught as a child never to mark up a book, not with a pen, pencil, nor later with a highlighter when they were developed. So I NEVER highlight. Therefore I felt I could not adequately evaluate this feature.

DISPLAY: There are a eight fonts to choose from while reading, eight sizes of each typeface, and 3 different line spacings.  You can have narrow margins and fill the screen with words or wide margins and few words on the screen. You can vary the size, spacing, change the background color and light (a nice taupe is great when reading in a dark room—reduces contrast), and vary the reading display in many ways.  The Keyboard also allows all these features except for dimming the screen since the Keyboard can't be read without an exterior source of light.

BRIGHT-DIM: Though it’s not a terrible problem, the Fire doesn’t dim as much as I’d like. Now here I go with an unfair comparison. My iPhone is a $500 product and you can dim the screen almost to invisibility. On the Fire, you can’t dim as effectively. However, changing the background color to taupe helps and makes reading in the dark more comfortable.

The TOUCH: Oddly, the lighter and more glancing the touch, the better the performance. One commenter online said she felt she could breathe on it and it would fly. I felt the same. However, people used to other touch systems don’t necessarily like it. Perhaps there’s a “style” to the touch that varies from one touch screen to another. If I barely touch the screen on the right or left, the pages turn fast and smoothly. On the other hand, if I try to sweep my finger across the same way I turn pages on my iPhone, the page sort of skitters before it turns. 
MUSIC: I’ve never been one to put music on an iPod or on my iPhone. I’ve either listened to the radio or bought CDs to play in the kitchen, bedroom, or the car. For many years I listened only to classical music unless in the car, so I’m not terribly familiar with current music artists. Nevertheless, when evaluating something, it’s important to do it all. I decided to try the music feature on the Fire.

From the Home screen I chose Music. Since I had no music either on the Cloud or on my Fire, I had to choose Store from the upper menu. A screen came up offering 4 specials across the top, 4 tabs offering Featured, Bestsellers, New Releases, and Genres. I chose instead to skip to the search screen. Since I don’t know many artists but I do watch American Idol, I chose Scotty McCreery’s album. A choice appeared: put on Cloud or Device. What the heck. I chose Cloud. In a flash I had bought it, and one touch later was playing it—from the Cloud, not from on my Fire.

While listening to music, one can also read. An agreeable feature for many people. But I’ve always found that I can’t both listen and read at the same time. I keep listening, not reading, so I’m not likely to use that feature.

SPEAKERS: I’m not much for fancy speakers or sound systems so I can’t really evaluate the quality of the sound. It sounded to me like what I get on my kitchen radio or in my car. Each song has a progress bar and a volume bar. You don’t have to slide the volume bar—just touch it to one side or the other to make it louder or softer. I put the sound near max and could hear the music throughout the house (one level). Some people online said that different music titles play at different volumes—in other words, some are louder than others. I only tried one, so I can’t testify to that.

Amazon does sell ear buds to use with the Fire. I’m not an ear bud person either. Do I sound anti-music—I’m not—just never got into the whole Walkman/iPod carry your music around with you schtick.

READ TO ME: The Fire does not read to you. You can set the Keyboard to read out loud to you so that you can listen while driving or other places where you can't look at the screen.

VIDEOS: INCLUDES MOVIES: Back on the Home screen, I chose Videos. The top slot was reserved for Prime members’ free videos. Since I’m a Prime member, I chose that. Under Popular Movies, 37 showed up. Another 35 showed up under Recently Added. 15 showed under Editor’s Picks. Under Popular Movies, I chose Time Bandits. It took two seconds for the choice to become available (buy or watch now). I chose Watch Now. A screen timer showed that it took 10 seconds for the movie to load and start. I thought that was excellent. The download was smooth and had no hitches. (See APPS below for Hulu and NetFlix.)

DOCS: There was only one item under Docs—the User’s Guide (on the Cloud), so I tapped it while watching the sweep second hand on my “atomic” clock. Less than 3 seconds later, the document was on my screen. One tap-swipe to the right side and the Table of Contents displayed. I touched the one of the categories on the Table of Contents, and it took me to that in a split second. Nice and smooth. Not lightening speed, but smooth.

DOCS YOU SEND TO YOURSELF: Both the Fire and the Keyboard also have the capability to receive documents and display them on the screen by emailing them to your device's email.  If your document is not in a format accepted by Kindle, simply type "convert" in the subject line and the staff will convert it to readable format.
APPS: There are 15 “free” apps that come with the Fire. I chose Comics, then Install. 15 seconds later the app completely installed and was ready to OPEN. There were 52 Featured Comics, 362 Just Added comics, and 25 popular ones. The Fire has an Android operating system. You can buy APPS though Amazon has promised many more free ones. Amazon recently added Hulu and Netflix to the Fire and promises many more apps, especially to Prime members.

WEB: 14 Bookmarked web sites showed up. I typed in the name of my guild website: When it displayed 10 seconds later, there was a little bookmark icon at the bottom. I tapped it. Now I have a bookmark to my guild web site that displays when I go to WEB. Annoyingly, however, my web site showed up on the Carousel when I returned to Home Page.

NEWSSTAND: I tried Magazines. Since I have several online subscriptions that I can access through the web, I didn’t buy any magazines. I get my digital magazines directly from the publisher in PDF format, so I don’t need to pay for others. Also, I subscribe to other sites and magazines. I get Consumer Reports Online and get the magazine at home. I don’t need to pay for another subscription, so I didn’t download any. I did look at one sample, however, and it looked fine. Other than that, I can’t say. I was unwilling to pay for something I won’t use just to evaluate it.

SUMMARY: Overall, I love the Fire. I don’t have any experience with other color e-readers, and one does tend to stay with first loves. I have a lot of money invested in Kindle materials. A kind relative who bought the Nook Tablet has loaned me her Nook Color to compare.  I expect that my prejudices (and pocketbook) will encourage me to keep the Fire rather than learn an entire new system and spend a lot of money doing it.
I’ve already discovered that I prefer my lightweight Kindle Keyboard for portability since what I mostly do out of the house is read. It weighs HALF what the others weigh. If I’m going to be in a doctor’s office or riding in the car, the old Keyboard makes a lot of sense. The Fire encourages you to explore other media, but you need Wi-Fi to do it, so my portable of choice will remain the Keyboard.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Recent Sales and Silk

Working With Silk
I now have 54 strips of silk from the designer ties I picked apart (see prior post) but little of it is solid colored, so that means I had to GO SHOPPING!  Please see the pictures of the silk from the ties on the page listed to the right under the Pages heading.

Buying Silk on Sale
Labor day weekend went to Sewing Studio and bought some solid-colored silk on sale (25% off). Got one yard of textured cream/ivory with a squiggle design-tone-on-tone woven in. Very fine lightweight silk. Don't know how it will handle, but it's gorgeous. Also bought a half yard of black. This was not as lightweight as the beige, but still flowing and light as air.

Today went to Bernina store for their anniversary sale (30% off). Bought two yards of textured silk--one wine colored and the other a grayish slubby color. Both are very heavy weight--almost upholstery silk weight.

I am hoping all these different weights of silk work well together when I make the Ginger Jars pattern by Helene Knott which I bought at  I am sure it will go well with the Oriental Fans by Tivoli Quilts.  I especially needed the solids for the wall hanging in Sew Scrappy (see OMQG Basket below) called Boxed In.
Won the basket at OMQG
Oh goodness.  I started the basket raffle last month, and lo and behold I WON it this month.  There were some really nice things in it.  One was the aforementioned copy of Sew Scrappy. Lots of nice quilts but I fell in love with the window-pane effect of Boxed In (link above) which I think will adapt to my silk-tie silk very well.  The second was a full yard of Moda White.  Saved my having to buy it to make the Dogwood Trail Table Runner by Sentimental Studios.  I had everything but the white.  Very fortuitous.  In the basket was also a massive volume: Quilting Line and Color by Yoshiko Jinzenji.  It's very modern and minimalist artsy.  A perfect gift for my neighbor, Love, who is fond of art quilts.  There were also lots of useful notions in the basket.  Now I have to assemble something just as nice as this one.
Amazing coincidence!
When I put out a message for people interested in salvaging silk from designer silk ties, four people expressed an interest.  I'd only met one enough to know who she was at OMQG. The others were people I'd met once at iQuilt in Sanford and we didn't really know each other by name.  While standing in line (forever) at Bernina today, I had a long chat with a couple of women.  I mentioned an article I'd written on adapting the Bernina hoop for easy positioning, and one of the women said she'd like to see the article.  As she gave me her name I suddenly realized--she's one of my Tie-Silk people.  When I said, "I'm the tie-silk lady" she was as excited as I was.  There we'd been chatting for over an hour not realizing we already had an online-email relationship!
Well, now I think I need to go back to work to pay for all this stuff!
Happy Quilting everyone.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Quilts I've Made

Madison's Tote Bag

My very first COMPLETED quilt

Karen's Quilt--Design in background, Detail in front.

Baby Mason on his quilt

Love and I each made this from Turning Twenty

Nathan and his quilt

Lucy's Placemat Detail

Adam's Quilt

Silk Ties: Reclaiming the silk

September 10, 2011
Stood in line for over an hour at Bernina but it was worth it. Met an online friend in person.

Update, Sept 9, 2011
Finished Reclaiming Silk
Remember I got 55 ties?  Turns out one was wool, so I didn't pick that apart, but as of this moment I've completed processing 54 silk ties.  I also got the patterns in the mail, and they will adapt to the silk from the ties well.  I'll be doing another update to say how many of each color and sort of design.  Wonderful variety of colors and designs.  Will keep you all updated.

Sept 1, 2011
Designer Silk Ties
Instead of OMQG I have an OMG to share with all of you.  My son is in banking—a profession in which designer silk ties are de rigeur.  Apparently ties go out of style like women’s designer shoes.  Over the past 30 years he collected a lot of ties he no longer wears.  I mentioned that I could use some of them to make a quilt, and today I got a box of at least 60 gorgeous designer (mostly Ermengilo Zegna) silk ties.  I just about faint when I think of how much money gets invested in men’s ties over the years.  I don't think you'll be surprised when I tell you just how many people are out there wondering what to do with all those ties.  When a designer silk tie is currently going for $150 or more, one is loathe to throw them out.
Now I have to find a design that is elegant enough to justify the quality of the silk. 

Sept 2, 2011
Patterns to Use the Silk from Ties
I’ve searched the internet and most of the patterns specifically using ties are  are based upon the shape of the ties and focus on Dresden Doilies.  Those are pretty. 
Some use the ties as is and sew them together to make dresses or rugs.  Not my thing.  Just imagine dresses made of a bunch of ties sewn together.  Clever, but not the kind of thing you'd wear to meet the Queen or the President, or even the local Mayor!  They seem more a joke than anything else.  I applaud their cleverness and move on to reclaiming the silk.
It occurred to me that I don’t need a design specifically for ties, but one that uses a wide variety of fabrics.  After much searching, and a suggestions from Sonia, I found a page with gorgeous Asian designs.
  I've ordered these:;; I'm seriously considering ordering these:;;
I'd also like to thank Sue for the usefulness of the link she sent me:, Sharon's idea for a Sunshine-Shadow quilt using the darks and lights and Crazy Quilting which takes advantage of the odd shape of the reclaimed silk. and Barbara's pointer that it's important to wash the silk--any silk that doesn't survive the washing shouldn't be used.   These gave me the basis for my focus on making something lovely instead of just clever for the reclaimed silk from the ties.

Later on Sept 2, 2011

Susan, Sharon, Sonia and Barbara are the 4 who responded with detailed information about the ties.  I’m calling them my "Silk Tie Group." Among the discussions were an article on how to handle the ties, information and suggestions from each of you summarize as:
·       Don’t try to use the ties as-is.  They make generally ugly things.
·       Disassemble each tie and wash the silk.  If it doesn’t wash and recover, don’t use it for a quilt.
·       Ties are cut on the bias.  It may be advisable to square off the fabric.
·       Use lightweight fusible stabilizer to stabilize the silk, not fusible interfacing.
I’ve now disassembled a few ties and here’s what I’ve noticed:
·       Salvaging the silk is a LOT of work.
·       All the ties have a loose woolen interfacing that gives the ties bulk and makes them look good when tied.  The really expensive ties have this as two layers with one of the layers heavier than the other.  It almost looks like one piece is wool and the other linen. This interfacing is natural colored and probably can’t be used for quilting since it’s too loosely woven.
·       When washed and ironed, the silk holds up very well.  While it may need to be stabilized to prevent fraying, it holds together through the washing and ironing very well.
·       At each end of the ties—whether really expensive or just moderately so—is a lightweight silk liner, high quality but much thinner-finer than the outer tie material.  This usually is a solid color and has the name of the designer woven into it.  This delicate silk covers both the broad tip of the tie and the narrow back end.  Most of the colors are pastel or black.
·       A lot of the silk public side of the tie’s patterns are woven  The resulting fabric is much heavier weight than the cotton we use for quilting.  The printed ones seem lighter weight.
·       It takes about a half hour to pick an individual tie apart.  They are beautifully sewn with high quality heavy silk thread so they don’t rip apart like cotton thread with a seam ripper.  I found it's best to use a sharp-pointed embroidery scissors.
·       Each tie yields a minimum of 1/6th yard of fabric (more than an eighth, less than a quarter) although, naturally, one end is narrower than the other (about 5” compared to 10”).  The middle strip of the tie is narrowest (about 3 ½”) and pieced.  All the ties are made of 3 pieces of the outer silk cut on the bias.
·       Washing the silk needs care because when silk wrinkles, it’s hard to get the wrinkles out.  Best to check for stains, wash without wringing.  At first I patted them dry in a towel, but eventually discovered it's best just to rinse them without squishing and drape them still dripping over something where the dripping won't matter.  I use my pool fence which is 4' high so neither end touches the ground.  You could use a shower door or shower rod.
·       Each disassembled tie—piece of silk resulting—is between 1½ yards and 1¾ yards long.
·       Almost all the ties I have are patterned.  Solid ties seem to be rare.
·       With 60+ ties, there’s more than 5 yards of silk

September 3, 2011
Reclaiming the silk from ties
Here are a few pointers:
·       A sharp-pointed embroidery scissors works better than a seam ripper
·       There are two different kinds of stitches in the tie:
o   There’s a heavy silk thread loosely hand sewing the length of the tie to keep it shaped.
o   There’s a tightly sewn thread attaching the silk point linings to the heavier silk fabric
o   The stitches in both points are very tiny, tight, and hard to dig out.
o   The silk thread sewing the tie together is stronger than the thread we usually use for quilting, hence really sharp points needed.
Washing the silk:
·        Check for spots before washing.  I used Grandma’s Spot Remover which worked great (although few of the ties have spots.  I think men throw them over their shoulders when they eat to avoid staining them.)  Serious spots which were previously cleaned up show on the wool interfacing and help you identify any problem spots.  I put the spot remover on but didn’t try to wash it out, just left it on the tie during the wash.
·       I discovered it’s best not to blot them in a towel.  The pressure of the towel sets creases.
·       I washed mine in a pan of warm, not hot, water with a little dish detergent.  I put the spot remover on first, then immersed them in the warm soapy water to soak for 10 – 15 minutes.  That worked better than swishing them around.  I just let them sit.
·       It didn’t seem to matter whether I rinsed them in a new pan of water or let the faucet run over them.  I did not try to extract the water.
·       I put the silk dripping wet into a bowl (so it wouldn’t drip on the floor), took it out to the pool, and draped it over my pool-guard fence.  The fence is 4’ high, and the ties did not touch the floor.  I patted them gently flat.  You could use your shower door or any place where it’s OK if they drip dry. 
·       They dried amazingly fast even though I put them out dripping wet.
Ironing the silk:
·       Ironing the wet or damp ties after washing did not work as well as what follows:
·       I dried the silk thoroughly, then I spread it out on the ironing board and sprayed it very lightly with water.  It takes only a misting to get the ties wet enough to iron.  It doesn’t LOOK wet, but it is.
·       I used the iron set on “wool” since my iron doesn’t say “silk.”
·       The silk is very strong.  It seems to be OK to iron it hard, unlike cotton which distorts, and despite the fact that it was on the bias, the silk did not distort. 
·       I let them rest to cool after ironing.
As I complete the process, I hang the ties on a non-slip hanger in the closet.  That way I won’t create any creases by folding.

September 5, 2011
To my silk-tie enthusiasts.
As I work my way through the ties (I’ve salvaged 10 so far yielding about 1½ yards of fabric) I am overwhelmed with the beauty of the silk.  It just takes my breath away it’s so lovely to handle and so beautifully patterned.  Not all the ties are woven.  Some are printed.  It doesn’t matter, both types of silk are gorgeous.  I’ve discovered that though at first it seemed as if most of the ties were dark, there are quite a few bright ones.  Pink with tiny woven palm trees, yellow with blue printed flowers, orange with blue and green stripes, etc.  Also, many of the ties that seemed dark to begin with have such luminous patterns that they will appear brighter than I thought.  Some of the dark ties are so dark that they can be used as background in pictorial quilts rather than main pieces.
Some of the silk, especially the patterns that seem tightly woven, shred on the edges, so special care will be needed.  It’s odd that the more loosely woven pieces don’t seem to shred as much.

Reclaimed silk from ties: (scroll down)
Ties drying on pool fence

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My new favorite tool

I just got this binding tool, and it's wonderful.  It solves that problem of the last stage of the binding when you're estimating how long to make the tails so that they fit snugly around the edges.  I have to guestimate and baste several times to get it right, but this tool makes it work the first time perfectly.
The company says:  The Binding Tool
When you finish the last seam of the binding only an angle seam will work to reduce the bulk of this last step. The Binding Tool makes a perfect ending every time. Two measurements and two cuts and you’re on your way to a great finish.

Company web site:
Demonstration:  on YouTube:  

Baby on a quilt

Here's the baby on the quilt.  Photo courtesy of my daughter-in-law, Barb.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Latest baby quilt

We have a new great-grandchild in the family, so here's his baby quilt.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wonder Tape--my favorite tool

I've checked online and about a dozen companies sell quilting-sewing products called "Wonder Tape."  They all seem to have the same characteristics:  double-sided sticky tape 1/4" wide, washes away with first washing.  I'm interested in trying a few different brands to see if one is easier to peel off the top paper.  I love this stuff, but getting the top paper off is challenging, even with sharp fingernails.  It's worth it, though.  I don't know what brand I have since I've lost the package and there are no markings inside the roll.  Even though though getting a grip on the top paper is challenging, it's worth it to keep a long seam straight. Here are some web sites with different brands.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pattern Link

I just created a link to my quick and easy placemat pattern.  Click on the link to the right to get a free copy of this pattern.  It makes a great wedding gift--or a gift for any occasion.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Attended Wednesday's first March meeting of the OMQG and feel it's the right demographic and level of expertise, both quilting and technological, for me.  My friend, Love, who went with me is a much more advanced quilter and won't be blogging, but I do think she may join as well. 
Although I had a blog on another topic, I deleted it and started this new one.  I hope I don't spend more time blogging than sewing!