Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The robot monkey quilt is done!

I'm glad to have finally finished my first "real" quilt.  Unfortunately there were many errors, but it ended up pretty nice and helped me get a little better.  At least I'm learning some things NOT to do. :)

For example, machine bind the quilt and let the seam show unless you're going to get it professionally done.  Hand sewing thousands of stitches, taking a week to do, when you're the worst hand sewer on the planet is probably not the way to go.  Still, it made for an interesting groove/texture thing on the back (at least that's what I tell myself).

Soooooo many stitches
I didn't take any photos of the squares before I sewed them into rows, and then the rows together, but here's a picture as I was preparing to sew on the border:

As you can see, there were already many imperfections and poorly matched seams.  I swear I tried to do better!

Finally it was time to add the padding and the back.  Here it is getting pinned down and ready for quilting:

And here's my work station as I was quilting.  Not perfect, but it's all I've got. :)

And here's where I found out that though my machine is nice for embroidery and great for regular sewing tasks, it's not so hot for quilting.  I barely had room to pass a baby quilt through that small arm. A full sized quilt will be a struggle, if not impossible.

Because I had so many problems with lining up the rows, I ended up only doing horizontal stitching in the ditch.  Not exciting nor interesting, but it worked.  I also didn't have a walking foot so I think my options were pretty limited (hey, I'm still learning).  I was also running out of time as my broken machine had set me back a few weeks.

Finally it was time to add the binding.  I ended up cheating here and buying pre-cut and folded blanket binding.  I was lucky to find just the right color.  I followed the binding instructions in the beginning quilting book only to realize those instructions hated me. :) I machine sewed the binding to the front and then hand sewed the back.  Ugh.  It looked strange because I'm so bad at hand sewing and it took ages to do.  But, when it was done, I was finally done.  Yay!

Here it is complete.  I hope my friends like it!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Filter Fiasco

I should probably include a fish update.

Things aren't going as smoothly as I would have liked.  I originally planned for the 20g upstairs to host the freshwater fish in the house.  I was mostly planning on Emerald Catfish (we have 4) with something else in there with a little more pizazz.  I put in a sand substrate as that is absolutely ideal for catfish and, as predicted, they freaking love it.

The downstairs fish tank would be brackish and would home the sailfin molly and more of his kind, as well as a few bumblebee gobies.  They also have sand.

SIX filters later...

The sand is killing the HOB filters I put upstairs and filters are too damn expensive to be gone through like this. I had invested in a canister filter for the bigger tank downstairs but I have yet, after two canisters, to get it to work.  It is infuriating!

So I have decided, once I can finally get the canister to work downstairs, to move the catfish and all the sand to the downstairs, now freshwater, tank.  The upstairs tank will be brackish with a few mollies and a rock substrate.  Hopefully the canister will work better with the sand and the rock upstairs will finally make the HOBs happier.  Of course this means more time and money to accomplish, which just gets me angrier, but hopefully better results are on the horizon.

I just need to get that damn canister working...


Unfortunately, I spent the last two weeks with a family suffering from the stomach flu.  Mine alone lasted seven days.  Ugh.  However, I'm feeling much better now!  Of course that means I am extremely behind on my projects with two that are very pressing.  I finally started feeling normal on Sunday and so Sunday night was spent finally quilting the quilt.   Today I'm dipping my toes into the scary, confusing and unknown waters that are "binding" and hopefully tomorrow night, after more hand sewing, I'll finally complete the quilt.   I'll have photos of the quilt process once it's finished and sent.

And after jewelry!