Sadly, it was not a quilting cruise, although that is definitely on my bucket list some day. Instead, I received a call from my sister-in-law, Mary Deeter of https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/
She was excited about being able to go on a cruise with her younger sister that was leaving out of and arriving back into the Port of San Pedro in the greater Los Angeles area in April, and since it was only a 4 hour drive each way, she wanted to know if we would be okay coming down and getting her and driving her to our house for a nice visit…and of course some serious quilting. She especially wanted some guidance on working with a longarm, and since I’ve been longarming for nearly 4 years, it seemed like a good opportunity to take advantage of that experience. Of course, we were thrilled to host her in our home. It has been years since she was last here and she and her husband were only able to stay one or two nights. Little did she know that I was in the market for a new longarm, and shortly after we made the arrangements, I purchased a brand new Gammill. (See my last post about the Quilting Fairy Makes a Visit).
Since it is such a long drive for us, she offered to put us up in a hotel overnight, otherwise we would spend 8 to ten hours on the road in one day. Then she surprised us by offering accommodations at the Queen Mary, which has been nicely restored to it’s original charm with added modern amenities. Here is a photo of the corridor leading to the rooms.
It’s difficult to tell, but every so often, there are short hallways leading off to the right and left which lead to the doors to two staterooms.
This is a view of part of our stateroom looking towards the entry door, which is just on the other side of the double door hanging closet on the right side. You can see the closet door handles sticking out a bit from the closet. I was truly impressed with the amount of storage that was in the room. Like I said, there was the double door hanging closet, an alcove just to the left of the bathroom entrance (at the far end of the photo) that has a dressing table complete with drawers, the other dressing table on the left that has the little stool partially pulled out that also has a white cupboard on either side of it going nearly to the ceiling. The really narrow piece of built-in furniture on the left is actually a desk. It has a flap hanging down that pulls up and locks in place for a writing surface, and a built-in stationary and ink well holder on top of the non-folding portion. Then there are these nightstands on either side of the bed with more storage. Note the marble tops, which was standard on all the built-in furniture.
Then there are cubbies above the bed that you can see in this photo looking to the left as you come in the entry door. Note that we had 2 portholes!
The last photo inside the stateroom is of a mysterious piece of furniture that we decided must be a heater.
We were quite comfortable, but wished we would have allowed more time to explore the rest of the ship, but we had a VIP guest to pick up and a lot of important quilting to do, not to mention a long drive home.
On the drive home, typical of Los Angeles metro area traffic, we were reminded of why we were so eager to retire to a less populated area of the country. The freeway came to a dead stop, and by carefully rubbernecking, I was able to get this shot of a police officer standing in the freeway lane talking to a man (look just under the mirror of the van in the “fast” lane). They stayed there talking and gesturing for quite awhile, then the police officer drove off and released the tie up. The man had a bucket with him and hopped on up to the top of the arch.
Never found out what that was all about, but were we glad to once again escape from L.A. and return to our refuge out in the country on California’s scenic central coast. Here is a photo of Mary and my Quilter’s Support Staff, my wonderful husband Rich, visiting in my cozy quilting room. (Yes, to my dear buddy, Mona, she IS sitting at “your” sewing station.)
Mary had mailed her humongous king-sized quilt to my house before she had left on her cruise. It is a pattern by Pat Sloan called Grandma’s Kitchen. The next morning, we got ready to learn some of my favorite quilting stitches. My machine only does hand-guided stitching, no fancy programming available, but that’s what I prefer because I find it more creative and an enriching challenge learning to coordinate what I see in my mind with my hands and the machine to actually make it come out on the quilt top. Fortunately, I am the only one who can see what’s in my mind (scary thought) so no one but me knows if it came out right, and I’ll never tell. After a morning of having Mary draw things out on paper and then drawing it again on a practice piece, Mary and I loaded the Leviathan onto the frame, and she got to work.
Everything went well until our last quilting day. Mary was done with the quilt except the two last blocks and the borders, and a couple of filler pieces. Then the dreaded out of bobbin moment came. So I changed the bobbin and tested the tension on the excess at the side of the quilt like I do every time. It was a mess, eyelashes everywhere, so I played with the tension on the upper thread and the bobbin. I spent a good hour, and nothing worked. I called tech support and talked to the technician. I tried everything he suggested. We then texted back and forth, and nothing worked. It was so frustrating. This is a brand new machine with maybe 5 hours of actual stitching time on it for crying out loud. We talked about it and decided Mary would leave the quilt where it was and when I got things working again, I would finish it up and mail it back to her.
The next day, we drove her to the San Jose airport, and when I got home, out of frustration I called Holly from my quilt guild. She is a professional longarmer and had told me on numerous occasions that if I ever had any problems with my Gammill, to give her a call. She has had hers for 10 years, and is very practiced on fixing almost anything that goes wrong. Turns out, Gammill’s aren’t really fond of the King Tut by Superior threads that I have always used because it was the only thread my old longarm would accept. Fortunately, I had some Omni by Superior, which Holly suggested I try, and working with that, I was able to finish up Mary’s quilt and get it mailed off.
The next day, I went back to the machine to quilt another quilt, and the tension was doing the same eyelash thing. So I called Holly again, the next day, she drove the 25 miles to my house (the biggest advantage and disadvantage to living in the country is no one and nothing is close by). She spent about 4 hours teaching me everything there is to know about Gammill’s and tension. By the time she left, we were certain that everything was adjusted perfectly. The next morning, I decided to do a bit more practice stitching to warm up while I had a practice sandwich still loaded, and it was eyelash city again! “Hi, Holly, you probably never want to hear from me again..” But no, she was wonderful. She had told me previously that if the adjustments we had made didn’t work that she would come out and adjust something called a rocking finger on the machine. So a couple of days later, she and her husband came out and spent a couple of more hours messing with my machine. The rocking finger is located in the bobbin race and is circled in the photo below.
She explained that the purpose of the rocking finger is as the top thread comes down around the bobbin case, it causes the two threads to come together just so to make the stitch. But if it is out of adjustment it doesn’t release the top thread on time and causes the stitch to just make a mess. Evidently, we were able to use the King Tut thread early on because of the newness of the machine, but the more we used it, the tighter the rocking finger became. So they adjusted it and now, with a couple of other adjustments that I can make to the way I thread the machine and changing the top tension a bit, I can still use the King Tut. But it’s just not worth having to mess with those things to me, so I am going to stick with the Omni and use up my inventory of King Tut on my domestic machines.
Just a bit more. One of the features I love about my Gammill, Greta, is the micro-stippling handles circled in the photo below.
They are closer together and closer to the work surface so give you much more control over your stitching. When you want to use the regular handles, you can just pivot the micro-stippling ones up out of the way. The only issue I have is that I have to bend over to see the detail of what I am stitching, and it kills my back. Then I had a brilliant idea, even if I do say so myself. When we first moved here, I thought my husband, Rich, would organize his garage (what was I thinking?) so I bought him a rolling stool with a hydraulic lift for the height of the stool.
Since he can’t use it in his overstuffed garage, today he brought it in at my request. I adjusted the seat height and now I can sit down and be at the perfect height to not have to bend to see what I am doing. I can’t wait to try it out actually quilting!
Sorry for the long post. There is a lot more to say, but I will have to save it for another day. You can read more about Mary’s adventures at her blog from the link that I posted above. Be sure to check it out.