The final chapter of my April travel adventures (and a FINISHED Quilt!)

PHOTO INTENSE POST – fair warning…..

If you have been hanging around reading over the last 2 months, you are aware that I took a lovely cruise for 10 days in April along Baja California and the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California.  This cruise returned to the Port of San Pedro California.  My next adventure began when my brother Rich and his lovely wife, Carolyn (AKA – http://www.OneBlockWonderWoman.wordpress.com) picked me up at the port and transported me (and all my luggage) North of Los Angeles to their lovely home in Monterey County California for a brief stay.  

There are a few different routes to take but my brother chose I-5 North out of Los Angeles.  Boy was I glad he did that!  We got to see the hills ablaze with California Poppies.  Disclaimer – I grew up in the Los Angeles area, and I vaguely remember seeing the poppies as a child traveling to see my grandmother.  Well, did we have a great show on the ride North.  Get ready – some of the photo’s appear a little hazy, because we were moving along at 65+ mph, and I was shooting thru the windshield from the back seat or the side window, so I apologize ahead of time.  Too pretty not to share!

Bright orange poppies

Poppies on the Grapevine

Can you believe the various colors in the hillsides?   All that orange and gold and (GULP) GREEN!!!

swaths of poppies

Golden hillside

Poppies and green hills

It is not vary often you see the hillsides in California SO green.  Spring must have been kind with the rains.

Hills ablaze in poppies

I remember when I lived other places, my mother would go on and on during phone calls about the poppies.  I honestly don’t think I have ever seen them until now.  I really timed my visit “just right”.

Now, if you are a “travel person” reading my blog, I am about to change lanes and return to my normal activities….and that is QUILTING.  I invite you to hang around, you might enjoy the rest of the photos or the story.

Those regular readers who have followed for any length of time might be aware that earlier in the year, I finished a rather LARGE quilt and planned to visit by brother and his wife and work on quilting it on her long arm quilting machine.  This is WHY they picked me up.  (Sweet of them to drive 4 hours to get me and 4 hours to take me home! )  California is a very big state!  I offered a night in a hotel so they didn’t do all the driving in one day….after all, Rich is my OLDER brother…giggle…..I booked them a room on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. I figured they should enjoy a night “on board a ship” since they were picking me up from a ship.  There cabin on the QM was MUCH nicer than a modern cruise ship cabin.( Oh to go back to the old days on ships!!) If Carolyn (aka oneblockwonderwoman) ever posts her photo’s, I will link to them.

Now, back to the story – I packed up my quilt top, and the backing (see the post – In Betweens – for that story) and shipped it to California before my cruise, so it was waiting on my arrival. Dear Carolyn had thoughtfully taken it out of the package and hung both parts to “relax” when she got the package.  Since we arrived late Tuesday afternoon, and I was flying home on Sunday, our time together was very short.  We got busy and loaded a practice piece to quilt .  I learned a lot about loading a quilt, and using the leaders and basting the top and sides, and floating the quilt, and how to use the size clamps.  By 10 am the next day we were set up to stitch on Greta, her new Gammill long arm quilting machine.  I had LOTS of practice before we loaded my quilt.

Greta the Gammill

This is her dining room, with windows on 3 sides.  The sun is so bright that she has heavy drapes to block the glare.

Time to practice

Greta the Gammill has great LED lights.

Practice on plain muslin

Carolyn taught me some of her favorite stitching elements.  I wanted to tackle each block independently and I had fun learning to operate the machine, and not drive it like a drunken sailor. Thank goodness for a great stitch regulator!  She even taught me how to work with a ruler –

Practice and planning

I decided I needed to “draw” a couple of quilt blocks so I could get a better handle on exactly where the needle was stopping and planning out some layouts for various blocks.

Since time was short, after 2 practice pieces (and lunch), we loaded my quilt on Greta’s frame.  That took us over an hour, getting everything “just right”.

Quilting at Carolyn's on Greta the Gammill

This is not a small quilt and nearly fills her frame.  I can see why my brother is often referred to as the “Quilters Assistant”.  It really seems like a 2 person job getting the quilt, the batting and the backing all set up right.  Because I had a pieced backing, I was extremely careful about the placement of the backing on the machine so the quilt top would be centered.

I won’t bore you with all the close up photo’s of the quilting.  Let me just say, if you really want to see them, they are in an album all together with the quilt construction photos, and you are welcome to browse through them.  Grandma’s Kitchen Blocks  .  There are lots of notes in the album about the various names of the blocks etc.  I quilted each block taking into consideration the elements of the block.  99% was done free motion with no stencils, drawings, markings.  2 blocks were done with ruler work.  We spent a lot of time working on the quilt.  I took a shot of the screen on Saturday –

LOTS of stitches

Even though we had been working since Wednesday, the machine said we had an actual 6 hours of stitching time, with over 152,000 stitches in the quilting. The “timer” only clocks when the needle is going up & down, not when the machine is on. (Has something to do with time for oil and cleaning if I remember correctly). There is a lot of “in between time” that happens.  Advancing the quilt, taking practice stitches along the side, and the distractions of where I was in California.  Their home is on several acres with gardens and meadows and the weather was perfect.  The home was constructed in the manor of a California Adobe, with tiled roof, walled garden area and arches.  The view out the windows is amazing.  What a great place for a break and a stretch!

In the courtyard

The sound of the fountain was so relaxing –

View from the window while quilting

Those of you who follow Carolyn on her blog – https://oneblockwonderwoman.wordpress.com know about what lies in wait on the other side of the gate in the grape arbor, just outside the courtyard wall.

Grape Arbor

And of course, in between times, we had to eat breakfast lunch, dinner, drink wine and go for walks.   Check out the great area they live in – quietly nestled in a little valley down a dirt lane.  There are vineyards and cattle and farmers all around. It was good to get out, stretch my legs and enjoy the beautiful Central Coastal California.

Enjoying a walk

My sister-in-law is well known among her neighbors and has several quilting friends that stopped over to meet me. It was so fun to visit with the people I had heard so much about who get to share time with Carolyn all the time!  (Thanks for sharing Mona!!)

We ran out of time on Saturday when all of a sudden the top tension went nuts when we changed bobbins, and nothing Carolyn adjusted could make the machine sew right. There were big loops on the bottom (thankfully I had an extra 6″ of backing all around and she had a place to test stitch.) Many phone calls to her dealer tech rep, and to a friend with a Gammill still left us unable to stitch.  So, we stopped, left the quilt on the frame and the next day, I had to fly home.

After 2 weeks of “adjustments, and a visit by her friends with a Gammill; she was able to finally get things working again, and she finished up my quilt.  Carolyn did the center of one block, and finished the last 2 blocks and quilted the border for me.  I was very thankful that she was able to do this and ship it home.    She trimmed the quilt for me and saved the cutaway backing pieces. She knew I was planning to use them for the binding.

 I spent a couple of evenings with the seam ripper removing the stray stitches on those saved pieces and made my “Susie’s Magic Binding”.  I got the quilt bound just in time to put it on the guest room bed!  I had family coming and I want them to be cozy under a new quilt!  I finally got to show it at the Material Girls Quilt Bee this week.  Still needs a label, but the hanging pocket is on already. I will enter it in our next  Ocean Waves Quilt Guild Show April 2019

My quilting is a novice attempt, so I will enter in the non-judged category.  Overall, I love the outcome, and I declare the project FINISHED!!!

Grandma's Kitchen - queen size

                            GRANDMA’S KITCHEN by Mary Deeter

Note – Pattern is by Pat Sloan, block of the week quilt along (Jun-Dec 2017).

Hope you enjoy the pictures included in this post and take time to check out the link to the FLICKR photo album.

Have you had any fun travel or quilting adventures lately?

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6 thoughts on “The final chapter of my April travel adventures (and a FINISHED Quilt!)

  1. Mary, your quilting was fabulous. You should enter it in the judged section. Like most of us quilters, you are your own worst critic. We enjoyed so much having you here, and wish you could have stayed longer to see some of the sights…and drink more wine. And yes, I will get around to actually doing a blog entry within the next week.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Mary you certainly are a busy lady! Thank you for sharing the lovely photos of your adventures. The sides of the hills were beautiful. Your quilt turned out gorgeous. Sad that the machine had to throw a tantrum. My machine has tried my patience on many occasions. They can be real stinkers. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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