Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pre-Design Studio software!

Yesterday, I ordered a software package called Pre-Design Studio II!  It's a software package that allows you to create and print your own pantographs.  I saw it demonstrated at Innovations and was really impressed with it.

As wonderful as Adobe’s Creative Suite is, I've been struggling with it for this type of task.  I's simply been frustrating because there are so many options in each of the individual applications of that suite, I don't have enough training, and I don't even have the entire suite, further impeding my progress.

I'm hoping that because Pre-Design Studio is designed specifically for doing what I want to do, it will be a lot more straightforward and I'll get more accomplished.  I'll report back my findings when I get the software and hopefully I'll have a free design to offer my readers.  Hmmm…. maybe even a contest...?

Its big sister, Art & Stitch, is another package I've had my eye on but decided that I couldn't afford at this time.  Not only will it allow you to create and print pantograph's, you can digitize the designs for all current computerized quilting machines and embroidery machines.  So cool!!

Eventually, I'd like to become a certified teacher for both of these software packages so now I have another project on my hands!  One complaint I'll never have is being bored, eh?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


The box in the mail yesterday, and today, an email from, finally pushed me to make a decision.  I bought a CueCat.

I went crazy and bought about 10 books that were on sale by 60% or more before I left for Innovations, and yesterday the first box arrived.  I have been looking for a book/inventory database and some way to manage it for some time and came across an open source program called DataCrow for managing library type items.  Even though I installed the program, though, it’s a bit daunting to try to enter all of my books, CD’s, and DVD’s so I’ve put it off.

The obvious solution is to get a barcode scanner.  Could I get by without it for entering my books…well, sure.  But my DH has quite the CD collection, too, and that’s not any project I want to take on by hand!  And we really need a list of those titles for insurance purposes.

With the arrival of the box yesterday, I figured it would be a good time to enter the info before they went on my shelf.  The problem then becomes which scanner to buy, and they aren’t cheap.  I don’t need a really heavy duty one, and besides, I don’t even really know what I need.  For $15, I ordered the CueCat.  I have other plans for helping to track my inventory, too, so this will be mighty handy if I can get it working properly.

I’ve seen this device before but there’s a history to the device.  You can read all about it on Wikipedia, but essentially, it was initially developed with a customer tracking technology installed and privacy concerns emerged.  The company website and its services are now defunct, and there are lots of sites around to “declaw” the Cat to remove any doubt about sending out personal information.  So, once it arrives, I’ll declaw the cat and get organized!

Innovations 2010 – Second Day, and beyond!

Wow!  As they say, time sure flies when you're having fun!  I can't believe it's already the Wednesday after Innovations and haven't posted since last Wednesday night!  I haven't had a chance to tell you yet about all the fun things I learned on Thursday or about the great dinner DSCF2603 I had that night.  Here’s our photo after dinner, from left to right:  me, Debbie Wendt’s mom, Debbie Wendt of Wendt Quilting, Marian Drain (CuddleTime Quilts), Marion Carmickle, and Edie Eliott (CuddleTime Quilts).

Marian Drain taught her Incredibly Easy Techniques for Success class for the first time…and it was a hit!  She talked all about grain line of fabric and how it affects the quilting process and those waving borders, as well as how to tame them.  Way to go, Marian!

I took a Baptist Fan class from Laura Lee Fritz, who is also the author of four different books.  I’ve had my eye on at least two of them for some time now, and I had ordered Creative Classics before I left for Innovations.  What a great class!  Not only did she explain the technique, but we got to go up to the whiteboard and draw out the patterns.  Some were shy and didn’t want to go up to the board, so they stayed at their desk and drew, but I really needed the feedback and it helped a lot.  What a treat to get to take a class from the author of a book!

I also took a class called Bluming Background Designs from Irena Blum, an award winning quilter, author and teacher.  This was also a hands on class and we drew for almost 2 continuous hours, going over the techniques and getting feedback.  Some creative students came up with their own unique variations, creating people and animals from the designs which were quite wonderful.  The time just flew by!

I flew back to Boise on Friday morning, as I was trying to get ready to sit at a booth at the Hyde Park Festival that weekend, but DSCF2619it didn’t work out.  However, I was able to finish a Bronco quilt!

I’ve been looking for a blue and orange variegated thread to use on Bronco quilts and finally found it!  Wonderfil, a Canadian company, was at the show and has a line of variegated rayon threads called Mirage.  I also bought a spool of their Deco Bob thread, but didn’t use it this time so I could test each separately.  Mirage quilted up perfectly, not one thread break!DSCF2614  I discovered, however, for this sort of project, that the variegated colors disappear too much for my taste.  It’s sort of cool that you see a “shadow” of the football design, but  I am going to stick with either a tone-on-tone or solid color that is opposite of the border color.

I’ve got another Bronco quilt top in the queue, I just need to decide if it wants a fleece or cotton backing.

Back to work this week, lots of homework, and quilts calling my name…there’s not enough time in the day!  Sigh….

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Innovations 2010 – First Day!

Wow, what a great day!

I met up with one of the Innova quilters who lives in the Tacoma area, whom I met on one of the Yahoo discussion boards.  We had lunch together and other people in the area joined us, too.  Thanks for the sandwich, Sheri!

I only took one class, called Panto Fun, that was about a really wonderful piece of software called Pre-Design Studio.  It will allow you to make your own, original, pantographs!

It has tools similar to those found in major graphic design software packages, and I have been wondering if I should get one over the other.  They both have their places, as I knew they would.  Pre-Design Studio is designed specifically for digitizing images (not creating the stitch information for the design) that can be used for embroidery and longarm use and all of the tools I need are included in this one application.  The stitch-out creation happens in the big sister application, Art & Stitch.

All I can say is “Wow!”  Not only can this package do everything Pre-Design Studio can do, it does more…lots more!  So, not only can pantographs be created and resized, it can be used to create embroidery designs, including the stitch information, as well as computerized longarm quilting files for all major systems on the market today.  Now I just need a computerized system!

A quilt conference wouldn’t be a conference without meeting new people.  I had a wonderful conversation with Mavis Rosbach of Quiltbird Studio after the Pre-Design Studio class.  I was delighted to hear her story of becoming a quilter, teacher, and pattern designer as well as her upcoming endeavors and she was generous enough to offer some suggestions to some ideas I’ve been tossing around.

I also met Anne Bright while I was browsing her selection of pantographs, which can also be found on  her website,  Since I was at her booth at the end of the day, I decided to look through her catalog a bit longer before making my purchase; she’s having a “buy 2, get one free” sale and I want to maximize my choices.

After the show, I met up for dinner with Marian Drain and her sister Edie Elliott, from CuddleTime Quilts, and Marion Carmickle.  Marian Drain will be teaching her first Innovations class, although it’s not her first teaching gig, on how to fix the challenging quilts that come into your life.  Marion Carmickle is teaching about leveraging social media and YouTube in your quilting business, as well as a class for new quilters.

Time for bed, I need to get up  in the morning for a full day of quilting classes!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Innovations 2010

Innovations, the machine quilting conference in Tacoma, WA starts tomorrow.  This is the third year I have attended and  I’m looking forward to reuniting with some of the great friends I’ve met at the conference and hoping to bring back a new skill or two to practice.

I arrived in Tacoma late last night.  Know what I did? I booked my flight Saturday, which was late in the game for booking a flight in the first place, and as I went to do my web pre-flight check in for my Monday morning flight, I got a notice that it was too soon to try to check in. What?? It was 9:00 pm and I was supposed to leave the next morning. I re-checked my ticket and sure enough...I had booked the flight for the PM not the AM flight! AARRGGHH!!

So, had to call my friend with whom I’m staying to tell her the bad news, as changing the flight would have cost $75, and I had used my miles to purchase the ticket. As always, she just shrugged it off and said "no problem". When she picked me up last night she said it was probably for the best anyway, as she had had a long night at work (she's a paramedic) in addition to the mandatory morning meeting she had attended, and was exhausted. So, other than not finishing my homework, it all worked out!

Elliot-sm I even got to sleep with Elliott, one of the house cats!  Today, Chris and I are off to spend some time together.  I feel blessed to have such good, long-time friends.

On Saturday, I will be at the Hyde Park Festival.  I will be sharing a booth with a couple of other quilters and showing samples of my Bronco quilts and taking orders.  Please stop by and say hello!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Post Trip – Pre-Innovations Update

Wow, lots has happened in the last two weeks!

I started my grad class, visited my family in New Hampshire (those kids sure grow fast, don’t they?), I signed up for Innovations, I’ve gone to a Washington Nationals baseball game against the New York Mets, then off to the Boise State vs. Virginia Tech football game, where I yelled myself hoarse, BTW, and now I have a cold.  Ugh to that!

I am making a concerted effort to keep a realistic To Do List, though, and that is keeping me sane.  Interestingly, as much as I love gadgets, I love my paper lists.  This cold, however, has me in a low energy mode and I need to get at least one Bronco quilt done this weekend, pickling some cucumbers, working on paperwork and getting ready for my trip to Tacoma, not to mention trying to get a lot of sleep…and I still seem to be on East coast time.  I have no time for being sick!

On a more serious note, when I picked up the dogs from the dog sitter, Rosie’s eye was watering and red.  DH took her to the vet yesterday and turns out she has a laceration on her eye.

I feel really terrible, because I put some ointment on it that we had used for her after she had a cyst removed, and the vet said that made it worse!  Turns out that it had steroids in it, and they may have pulled the laceration further apart.

So, now we have drops to give her and she's looking better already. Worst case scenario, though, is that if it doesn't get better, she could lose her eye.

There's no way to tell how she hurt it, could be she rubbed her face on the carpet and there was something in there that got her, or one of the other dogs at the house might have scratched her.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reboot Your…Plane?

I am visiting my brother in New Hampshire this week and it’s a two plane trip from Boise, with a layover in Chicago.

While we are sitting on the tarmac in Boise, the pilot comes onto the loudspeaker to tell us why we haven’t taken off yet.  Turns out that there’s a small electrical problem and the mechanics have asked them to turn off the plane and then turn it back on to reset the electrical panel.  In other words, they rebooted the plane!  Good thing they didn’t make that request while we were flying!!

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