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Fortune Cookie Roulette #31

Sitting At My Quilt Frame

    What I really like about working my quilts in a floor frame is that whenever the mood strikes, I can sit down and just start stitching away. There's not a lot of fuss. It's also incredibly hot to have a quilt draped over your lap in the middle of July.


    I have a long L-shaped living room so the right angle which makes a turn into my dining area is kind of a dead zone, except at Christmas when it looks like the spot was custom designed for a tree.  I set the frame at the rear window for light and take advantage of the air-conditioner in the opposite window for cooling.  That air-conditioner has provided much relief these past few steamy days, and the window has replaced my television, offering an excellent view of my yard, the occasional hummingbird flitting about or our neighborhood rabbit-in-residence eating clover and oregano flowers.



Since the window faces the west, natural light for morning work can be a bit weak, especially if it  is raining.  I braved Ikea last weekend in search of just the right light: small, powerful and unobtrusive.  I hit the jackpot with the Jansjö, a floor lamp with a flexible neck.  The light beam is quite direct and intense (not as intense as this picture, but you get the idea). This is a very good thing because every other light I have tried floods the room and that can be distracting to the people you love and live with if they like to watch television with minimal lighting but you would also like to spend some time with them.  I had old-school architect's lamps which sat in the frame posts, but the joint springs would stretch quickly and I would hit my head on the hot metal shades all the time - just too clunky, not to mention dangerous for my hair.  The small head of the Jansö doesn't get in my way and directing the light is so-o-o much easier with the flexible shaft.  

    Another purchase I've had for years is my Lillhöjden swivel chair.  Since I prefer to quilt towards me, I needed a chair that would allow flexibilty to move about the frame.  The tan and white gingham cover is pretty cute too.



    I like the tray that came with my frame.  It has a built-in pincushion, a thimble rest and several compartments to hold marking tools, scissors, needle packs and threads.  As you can see I am using quite a few threads in this projects so all of those sections come in handy.


Speaking of threads, I wanted to show you this:


    On the left of both pictures is Valdani #12.  On the right is Finca #12.  Both are recommended for big stitch quilting.  The Valdani is spongier and not as tightly wound as the Finca which makes it a little difficult for needle threading.  The Valdani fuzziness is like a little preview as to what it will look like after washing.  Threading a needle with Valdani is difficult which is why I've been using the larger-eyed sashiko needles.  A Quilter's Threader has been my life-saver this time around.  I've never had much luck with threaders because they always break but this particular one must be made of titanium or something.


    Frame quilting, like hoop quilting, has it's drawbacks.  I like to measure my progress so I always take a look at my the entire quilt after a session.  With a hoop that's easy - impractical with a frame.  I've taken to numbering the rows with a marker on the exposed portion of the batting, with '0' being the middle row.  I may not see my progress but I have an idea.  As of yesterday, I've completed 5 rows on a 13 row top.


    Even though I can't see the backing, I've been quilting long enough to know by feel when things are not going well on the back.  I usually avoid using directional fabrics, particularly on the backs since I like to keep the stitches in line with the design pattern.  I have no idea what possessed me to use these super-directional fabrics (they're beautiful for one thing) but  it's been a happy accident that my stitches have line up with the blue stripes.  I'll get a better picture when I'm done.  Laying on the floor taking these pictures is not too comfy.


    I used to do hand-quilting demos with my frame for a local quilt group.  Honestly, talking with people while you are working at a frame is one of the most pleasant things to do.  I can't chew gum and ride a bike at the same time, but I'm very adept at stitching, talking and listening.  I'd love for the opportunity to do that again.  I kind of feel like I did that today, but it's been a little one-sided - please feel free to add your thoughts about hand-quilting in a frame or a hoop!  

Take care,