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As seems to be my habit, I am in the throes of trying to finish a quilt before I go away.  Third time in a row this has happened.  What is it about going on a trip that makes me think of quilting?  Nothing.  Perhaps it’s quilting that makes me want to go away.  That would make more sense, except in each case, the trip was planned before the quilt.  I didn’t decide to do this quilt until after New Year, so it was always gonna be a race.  This time  I’m making a quilt for my grandson for his birthday.   It’s a simple Sudoku quilt.  Easy peasy. Or so (sew?) I thought.  I’m nearly finished with it, in more ways than one, so I’ll post a photo.

Unfortunately it has turned into an ugly quilt, largely due to my lack of planning and undue haste.  Make that undo haste.   I seem to have spent rather a lot of time (though not nearly enough, it turns out) undoing stupid mistakes.  But it’s colorful, and I expect the bright colors will come in handy.  I’m thinking B is enough like his dad and his uncle before him– not overly obsessed with a tidy room– so the bright colors will help him  find it.  The idea of it was good, and I had some great fabrics to work with.  But once the Sudoku grid was complete, (and going back was no longer an option), I decided to make it longer in one direction than the other, considering he is twelve and will no doubt be growing tall soon.  So it turned into one of those things where you keep adding another ingredient to rescue a tasteless dish; instead of tasting better (or looking better) it just keeps getting worse.  Bleh.

The Sudoku Quilt

I had problem after problem.  None of them earth-shaking on their own, but irritating in clusters.  At first things went well.  Too well.  I think that’s where the trouble started; I was feeling too pleased with myself and with the emerging quilt.  Those of you who are quilters will know what I mean when I say I was doing the quilting as I went along, meaning I had to use the sashing between rows to assemble the quilted strips.  That meant hand-sewing one side of the sashing.  That meant… a THIMBLE.  I’ll tell  you up front, I can’t use a thimble.  My mother couldn’t sew on a button without wearing a thimble, so I’ve been exposed to them all my life–mind you, I’ve been exposed to ice skates all my life, but that shouldn’t be taken to mean I can use them.   I’m pretty sure I wasn’t thumped on the head with one as a young child, so I don’t think I was pre-disposed by my early exposure to dislike them.  I have quite a few thimbles, and some of them don’t even have tiny pictures of Swiss landscapes or Cornish villages painted on them, and  I’ve even tried some of the specialty ones designed for quilters.  I can’t use any of them.  It’s one of the reasons I can’t hand quilt.  That, and the fact that there aren’t enough decades left to me to ever finish one.

So, don’t use a thimble, you are thinking.  I don’t! And that’s the problem.  Besides all those pesky red dots all over the fabric, continually poking a needle through fabric, into a naked finger hurts.  My husband was diabetic, hence wasn’t at all sympathetic to my complaints about the hole in my finger. I had to keep reminding him that he could use a different finger each time, and stick it anywhere on the chosen finger tip.  He didn’t have to keep poking the needle into the very same hole, over and over and over.

Finally I said to myself, “Self, it’s time you do something about this thimble problem.”  And so I did.  I made a thimble, of sorts, that I could wear.  I cut a finger off a pair of rubber gloves, cut the pointy bit off a thumb tack, super-glued the flat bit of the thumb tack to the end of the glove finger, and Bob’s your uncle!  Before you laugh, let me just say, it worked.  I don’t intend to  apply for a patent, but it works for me.

Thimble (inside out, but it works either way)

My 'thimble,' right side out

The other big hassle I had was Needle Threading. I still can’t manage to thread the sewing machine needle without a certain amount of ranting and raving.  I finally gave in and started using one of those little gizmos that always used to be included in the little sewing kits you got in hotel rooms.   I never have been able to throw those little kits away.   Not that I’ve ever used one–has anyone?  But when the one and only  needle threader I had gave up the game I went on a quest to find one of the sewing kits.  I expected to be able to put my hands on at least a dozen of them immediately.  Well, not only could I not find any until I had ransacked the entire house, but when I did finally find one, there was no needle threader in it!  How in the world do they expect you to cope if you have to sew on a button in your hotel room and can’t remember where you packed your reading glasses?!   I still have no answer to threading the sewing machine.  And yes, the machine has a built-in needle-threader, but as I don’t have an engineering degree, I can’t figure out how to use it.

But I do have a solution for threading ordinary needles (which you don’t have to lay on your side to do, as you do to thread the sewing machine needle).  For years I’ve had this gee-whiz craft light that has a magnifying glass attached to it.  The magnifying glass is on a separate arm from the light, so you can use them individually or together.  I actually got it out and tried using it for needle-threading.  Brilliant! What a time-saver.   I used to waste so much time trying to thread the wrong end of the needle.  That’s all history now.  But I did have one small problem.  At one point , when I was trying to re-thread the needle, I noticed that under the magnifying glass it looked like a tiny tassle.  I thought I might have better luck if I snipped the fluffy end off, but when I reached for my scissors I unfortunately turned away from the magnifying glass and proceded to snip the end of the needle off instead of the thread.  They weren’t my favorite scissors anyway.

Oh, by the way.   You also have to remember to move the arm with the light and the one with the magnifying glass away when you want to get up.               MM