Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Maze's Birthday {and a giveaway winner}

If you are only visiting today to check out the winner of the Groove quilt pattern, I won't keep you waiting:

The winner is Joanne who happens to love The Lion King. Great choice! I will be emailing you shortly to get your contact information.

And for the rest of you hooligans, today is Mazer's birthday! I won't be writing much since today isn't yet over, but I thought I would share some pictures of our fun today:

Alyssa over at Pile O'Fabric just happens to be my neighbor and yesterday we spent the day with her and her kiddos. What made the day even more awesome?! She bought a huge cupcake to celebrate Maze's first birthday!

We started the day with Elmo and Sesame Street.

Then we went to the splash pad with Uncle Dermur. He takes really good pictures, mostly because he's a pro.

Then Mommy spoiled her by buying her a small Pooh Bear at the Disney Store and even bought her a small ice cream, all for the small little big girl!

Her party isn't until this weekend, but rest assured: there will be many more celebratory pictures to come!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Mischief Maker

Brent and I are avid readers and want to share that passion with our children. I know she's a little young, but I have been taking Clara Mae to the library for the past couple months, you know, to get her love affair with books started! One of our local libraries hosts this really fun little "Baby Time" on Wednesdays. We sing little songs and do little dances and play with bubbles. We LOVE the bubbles. We also have to beat the other children away from Clara's snacks, and our little book time turns into an all out throw down between the infants and toddlers over sippy cups and Cheerios.

It. Is. Awesome.

But this is a story about a very different library time. This is not a story about "Baby Time". This is a story about how Miss Maze got us kicked out of the library.


A couple days ago, I offered to take my young cousins to the library. They love to read and considering the library is free, air conditioned entertainment, it is one of our go-to summer destinations. When we arrived, my cousins took off to peruse the shelves in search of their next daydreams, and Maze and I strolled over to the baby section where we could hang out until they had made their selections and were ready to leave. The baby section is fabulous and simple. There is an alphabet rug sprawled across the corner of the large library flanked by two long but short bookshelves, jam-packed with board books perfect for baby. As many of you know, I have bookshelves in my home. What you may not know, however, is that Clara is not allowed to touch the books on my shelves. Only Mommy can remove books from Mommy's shelves. At the library, though, she can remove every book she sees from the shelves, and, trust me, she does!


She and I sat on the floor, me crawling after her, her giggling and grabbing more and more books to open and toss across the rug. And that's when it happened: Security came over to tell us we needed to leave. Maze had broken a library rule. Anyone care to guess what it was?


She wasn't being too loud.
She wasn't chewing on the books.
She hadn't damaged any of the books.

Her crime? She wasn't wearing shoes.

Just her size.

No joke. The security guard told me they had a strict "No shoes, no shirt, no service" policy and was shocked that I didn't have shoes for her in my bag.

I casually mentioned she doesn't walk yet, but it didn't change anything.

I called over my cousins, told them to check out their books, and we left.

Ridiculous, right? It was the BABY section, for crying out loud!

I learned my lesson, and this weekend, I will go buy her a pair of shoes. They can be birthday shoes, since her first birthday is Tuesday. OMG. My baby is going to be a year old! Where has this year gone?!

In other news, I have been a Top Parenting Site for Toddlers.

Top Parenting Site 2012

Such an honor! You can check out the complete list here if you are interested.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

ASS Gurus Discuss the Pub Crawl

The lovely Guru Laura is taking over today to discuss pub crawls and lumpy hind ends. This is worth a read!

As the time is drawing near, I felt the Alternative Sewing Summit gurus should be offering some insights on site-seeing in and around Salt Lake City. As I've never been there before, I am the perfect ASS guru to offer you some unbiased opinions. So I have searched the magical inter web and gleaned the following information to supplement your sewing and Salt Lake experience.

First of all, I want to go to Red Butte Park, which is an Arboretum. It features "11 themed botanical gardens including an Orangerie (warm) Garden".

Yes I like gardens. 
But I really just want a photo of Katy in a pair of red pants standing in front of that sign blocking the last E of Butte. If we fail to do it, I'll learn how to use photoshop...For a more adventurous scenic experience, Snowbird is a mountain resort which has an incredible cable car. I like cable cars. But not being a skier, and unsure of whether there even is skiing in October, what is there to do there?

When I became an Australian citizen at the age of ten, I took the national vow of beer-allegience (that's real beer, not Bud). I take my vow seriously. So I was delighted to see that Oktoberfest is on at Snowbird. What could be better than a scenic cable car trip up a mountain to down a beer as the sun sets over the Salt Lake?

Unfortunately, in Snowbird/SLC, Oktoberfest runs from August to September. Now my German isn't fluent, but I do know that Oktober does not translate as August-September. Hence it not being called AugusttoSeptemberfest. I'm disappointed enough to consider writing a strongly worded email, Subject line: Get A Clue.

So given that AugusttoSeptemberfest is a no-goer given the timeframe of Sewing Summit, next on my list is the Grimm Ghost Tour. I'm not a big believer in ghosts, but I can see the potential of going on a ghost tour with someone who perhaps IS a fan of the supernatural. Work out beforehand which of the Sewing Summit participants may be of the easily persuaded variety, talk them into going with you (pay for them if necessary), and then remark on the mysterious happenings that continue ALL weekend. "Danny, you were totally right, I didn't believe you, but now I see that this town really is haunted. All that Tula Pink OOP Nightshade you bought has just vanished into thin air."

And while, as Danny suggested last week, Salt Lake's citizen's may have been less than imaginative in naming their lake ("Hey, it's a salty lake, let's call it Salt Lake!") and their city (you get the idea), they've made up for it in naming their pubs. Maybe because of the 'non-drinking reputation' (only 35 pubs open until 2am in the morning which is still one helluva pub-crawl in my book), they've gone all out. There is something for everyone - even, I'm sure, beer-craving Australians. So here are my unofficial, never been there, public house recommendations. 
  • For nature-lovers, I recommend The Thirsty Squirrel. To be honest, I couldn't find anything to recommend it, not even what I was hoping for, which was cute signage of a blotto squirrel yakking into a gutter. (But it has given me an idea for a drunk woodland creatures quilt). It's sister pub to the Stoned Crow (ok I made that up, but Aneela - remember to credit me when you do your party animal fabric line). 
  • For the health-minded, there is Fat's Grill in Sugarhouse (I think they should have added 'nicotine smoke' before Grill, just to make it sound even healthier).
  • For the religious, go and raise a pint at The Tavernacle "Utah's premier duelling piano bar" (I wonder what THEIR choir sounds like at 1am?). They appear to have photoshopped all their customers in (and not the most attractive ones, strangely enough) so be warned - this place could be INTERESTING.
    The Tavernacle
  • For general amusement, there is Lumpy's Downtown (which is how Katy looks sneaking from Danny's room with 12 Fat Quarters of Tula Pink Nightshade secreted about her person). I say it's worth checking out just in case it's Salt Lake's answer to Hooters. (I looked, but I couldn't find a pub called Danglers anywhere for the ladies. Again, if you use the idea, please credit me).
  • If you are missing the 90s and grunge, you could check out The Garage on Beck St. This is a real review I found, describing it as "a roadhouse-style bar/venue with one of the city's best patios [be still my beating heart] along with ample amounts of reclaimed barn wood inside [!!!!]. The venue is located on the north edge of Salt Lake City with a backdrop of the cities oil refinery along with a junk yard next door". Good to see Aussie guys haven't got the market cornered on creating a romantic setting... 
If none of these grab you, there are a couple of pubs that are trying just a little too hard to compete - Popular Street Pub and the Epic Brewing Company - insecurity complex with your beer, anyone?

Disclaimer: having never been to any of these venues, the ASS Guru's can not be held liable for any time, good or bad, had by anyone visiting these, but feel free to buy us beer if we do. If you would prefer to read less random ramblings, send us a question and we'll attempt to answer it. 


Friday, July 27, 2012

{Giveaway} Totally Groovy QAL

So... I'm lame. I totally forgot to tell you all the best part about yesterday's post: I have a pattern to give away!!

Totally Groovy Quilt Along at Pile O' Fabric

My friend Alyssa over at Pile O'Fabric is hosting the Totally Groovy QAL using this awesome pattern by Carolina Patchworks and she has offered one to me to give away to one of you!

Flippin' sweet, right?!

Groove Quilt Pattern

Want to win? Leave me ONE COMMENT telling me which Disney movie is your favorite and why. Personally, I bypass the princess-y flicks for the under appreciated humor of The Emperor's New Groove and Hercules. I mean, who doesn't love llamas or dancing statues??

Best of luck to you! I'll close the giveaway midnight Sunday MST. Tell your friends! This one is psychedelic!


Totally Groovy QAL

My friend Alyssa over at Pile O'Fabric is hosting a psychedelic spin on the QAL! So grab your bell bottoms and Jimi Hendrix inspired headbands and join in the Totally Groovy QAL!

Totally Groovy Quilt Along at Pile O' Fabric

The Quilt

Pile O' Fabric has partnered up with Carolina Patchworks (Emily Cier) who is an amazing quilt designer and writer. She wrote Scrap Republic, Quilt Remix, and Pixel Play (coming soon). You can see her work in Modern Blocks, and she is one of the 16 Iconic Quilt Designers in the newly released book, We Love Color.
Groove Quilt Pattern
Groove Pattern
For this Quilt Along we will be using Emily's Groove Quilt Pattern, which Emily will be offering at a discount for all QAL participants. It might seem a bit intimidating, but Emily assures it is much easier than it looks! This will nevertheless be a challenging Quilt Along in Solid Color Selection and Curve Piecing, but still achievable for the newer quilter—and rewarding, too! As you quilt along there will be wonderful tutorials and advice on fabric selection, piecing curves, and quilting techniques from amazing quilters. Emily's patterns are very easy to follow and always have instructions for crib, lap, twin, queen, and king. You are welcome to make this quilt any way you see fit, so if you prefer to use prints then go for it! It will be neat to see everyones own interpretation.

Posts & Schedule

Here are the current scheduled posts for the Quilt Along. We will be learning the ins and outs of curve piecing from amazing quilters Emily CierJacquie GeringAmanda Woodruff, and Kate Conklin. We will also be getting some Groovy Quilting tips from Quilting Extraordinaire Angela Walters. This will be a fantastic learning experience, and a great opportunity to meet some new quilting friends!
  • August 2nd - Planning and Choosing your Fabric (and if you need fabric, I’ve arranged for a 20% discount on Kona Cotton at Fat Quarter Shop)
  • August 9th - Meet the Totally Groovy Designer, Emily Cier
  • August 16th - Cutting your templates
  • August 22nd - Intro to Curves Piecing by Alyssa Lichner
  • August 23rd - Piecing Traditional Curves by Jacquie Gering at Tallgrass Prairie Studio
  • August 30th - Piecing Curves without Pins by Kate Conklin at Kate Conklin Designs
  • September 6th - Piecing Curves without Pins by Emily Cier at Carolina Patchworks
  • September 7th - Piecing Curves with a Curve Master Foot by Amanda Woodruff at A Crafty Fox
  • September 13th - Putting all the pieces together, finishing your quilt top
  • September 20th - Choosing a Backing Design
  • September 27th - A Look at Emily Cier's New Book Pixel Play
  • October 4th - Totally Groovy Quilting Tips by Angela Walters from Quilting is my Therapy
  • October 18th - Wrapping up and linky party begins
  • October 25th - Submissions do for Grand Prize Winners

Sponsors & Prizes

Throughout the course of the QAL, participants will have the chance to win AMAZING prizes from the following Sponsors. For exact prize details you can visit Pile O' Fabric
Totally Groovy QAL Event Sponsors

The Pattern

Carolina Patchworks will be offering all QAL Participants a discount on her pattern.
  • 20% off 2 or more (a great chance to get another one of Emily's wonderful patterns) code: TOTALLYGROOVY
  • 15% off Groove Paper Pattern code: GROOVEPAPER
  • 15% off Groove PDF Pattern code: GROOVEPDF

The Fabric

Fat Quarter Shop is offering all QAL Participants a 20% Discount on all KONA cotton from now till August 30th using code: Sewing101

Enter to Win!

Totally Groovy Quilt Along Giveaway!
Pile O' Fabric is having a giveaway for a Totally Groovy Quilt Package! Everything you need to join the fun $75 to The Fat Quarter Shop to get your fabric and a Groove Quilt Pattern to Quilt Along! This giveaway ends July 31st.

Flickr Group

Join the flickr group, which can be found here. This will be a great place for us to come together and share photos of our progress and get to know each other.

Totally Groovy Button

If you’d like to let people know what fun you are up to or invite your friends to join here is a button!
Pile O' Fabric
<div align="center"><a href="http://pileofabric.com/post/1001884-totally-groovy-quilt-along-with-prizes" title="Pile O' Fabric"><img src="http://pileofabric.com/Events/totally-groovy-qal/button_sm2.jpg" alt="Pile O' Fabric" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Sign up and be entered into a drawing to win a pattern!

Pile O' Fabric would like to get an approximate head count of you all. If you plan to join and Quilt Along please fill out the sign up form, this will NOT commit you to anything. If you sign up you will be entered into a drawing to win 1 of 10 Groove Patterns (paper).

For complete details of The Totally Groovy Quilt Along you can visit Alyssa at Pile O' Fabric.

Promotional Partners

If you want more chances to win a Groove Pattern then check out these other blogging friends who have offered to help promote the QAL. Some will be giving patterns away!
Okay everyone time to get your Quiltin' Groove on!! :)


Monday, July 23, 2012

An open letter to Husqvarna Viking




As you all know, I've had issues with Vera forever. I drafted this letter to Viking Corporate and sent it off on Sunday. This is information many of you have asked for and I want to be open with you about my struggles. I will keep you all apprised to what happens from here. Thank you all so much for sticking with me even though I've been inconstant in my makes.

To Whom It May Concern:

I purchased a Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 835 in May 2011 from the Viking dealer #2075 inside the Jo-Ann Crafts store in Gilbert, AZ, USA. When I purchased the machine, I was seven months pregnant and still working full-time. I knew I would not be sewing much until after the baby was born, but was up-front with Clarrisa, the manager and person who sold me the machine, that I would be an everyday sewer once the baby arrived. I needed a machine that could handle piecing and quilting and possibly garment sewing on a regular basis. I would not be someone to only take out the machine for the occasional hem or mend. She told me the Sapphire 835 would be my best choice. I tried a few machines out on the sales floor, settling on the Sapphire she recommended, and purchased it that day.

I was working with a local group of quilters here called Comfort Quilters, making quilts for people undergoing treatment for cancer. Our goal is to bring people hope and love with our quilts, and if nothing else, keep them warm as they receive their freezing chemo treatments. As you might imagine, time is of the essence when making for people who are dying, and since my old machine’s foot pedal had broken, I was very excited to get started with my new Sapphire! A few days after my purchase, I pulled it out to work on one of the quilts but I noticed some major tension problems. I remembered Clarrisa telling me there were classes on how to use the machine, so I packed it up, had someone else take my quilts to finish, and signed up for the in-store class. I wanted to learn my machine before I dove in.

A month or so later, I attended the introductory class. I learned quite a lot from that experience and greatly appreciate that Viking offers these classes for sewists! Clarrisa is truly a whiz with these machines!

A couple weeks later, I delivered my first baby. My sewing machine, which up to this point had only been used in the introductory class, remained boxed up until my daughter turned three months old and I found time to sew. In short, for six months, my machine sat all but unused.

The machine worked miserably, having tension problems, forcing me to unpick many-a-seam. Numerous times I drove up to the store to have my machine looked at, every time being told the issue was “Operator Error”. I believed the Viking employees for a while. I would come home in puzzlement, wondering what I could be doing wrong since the employees could never actually tell me what it was this operator was doing to cause all those tension errors. I knew I wasn’t stupid. I am a sewing blogger. I sew constantly, whether for online bees, swaps, series, blog features, or for family and myself. What could I be doing wrong? I also sew with the manual close at hand, something I picked up from my grandmother when she taught me to sew. If ever in doubt, I refer to my manual. But the tension problems persisted leading to many more trips up to the store.

Looking back, I wish I would have documented every time I went to have my machine looked at. In my machine’s first year, I can modestly say I took it to the store a dozen times, not including the numerous phone calls. I was told I needed to buy different thread two separate times, leaving me “unable” to use Coats and Clark or Gutermann. Even Mettler was causing issues. I am currently trying Aurifil, a beautiful thread that should make any machine sing. I was also told I couldn’t buy large spools because my machine clearly couldn’t handle them. I was told I needed to purchase a tabletop thread holder because the thread holder on my machine was too close to the thread intake and THAT was the culprit of all these tension issues. You can imagine my frustration. Why should I need to purchase auxiliary tools so my $1,000 machine can perform the most basic of functions? I purchased the tabletop thread holder. My machine still had tension issues. I was also unable to use the spring action free-motion quilt foot and, as Clarrisa put it, I should just use the “R” foot instead. I purchased the spring action free motion foot separately from my machine specifically so I could free motion quilt. How frustrating that when I WANT to purchase an ancillary, it too will not work with the machine.

I got to the point of being very firm with the employees at this store: I sew every day. I sew long hours. I need a reliable machine and this clearly is not it. I wanted my machine sent out to be serviced while it was still within the first year warranty time frame. Clarrisa assured me that since I have had continued problems with this machine, warranty or not, she would make sure my machine was properly fixed. They finally sent it out, kindly giving me a loaner in the interim, and my machine was returned to me a couple days later. Now, the clunking noise it had been making and the garbled top thread underneath the fabric had been replaced by a high pitched but soft squealing noise toward the top of the machine. I mentioned it to the employee on duty and she told me it was because it had just been serviced and the noise would subside. It didn’t, but the machine seemed to be working, so I took it home. I had project deadlines that I needed to meet.

A couple days into using my newly fixed machine, it began having tension problems again. Frustrated, I called the store to speak with Clarrisa. I left a message for her to return my call and borrowed a friend’s machine to complete my pending projects. I even went so far as to purchase a new foot pedal off Ebay for my old machine so I could use it while my Viking sat on a shelf, waiting to be worked on yet again.

I didn’t hear back from Clarrisa. I don’t know if she never got the message or if she found herself too busy to return my call. I phoned a couple more times, hoping to get my machine into the shop again to be fixed, this time, hopefully, for good. Eventually, I was told I could bring in the Sapphire. I did not recognize the employee but she told me she would have it sent in, gave me a loaner machine, and would let Clarrisa know I was in yet again. About a week later my machine was returned. Another new employee was at the store to give my machine back to me. She told me they fixed my tension issues and that there was a pin found down in the feed dogs. While I do not believe the pin was mine (I am extremely careful about removing pins before they approach the needle) I cannot prove that it wasn’t and will take responsibility for it. I know I was not having any troubles with the feed dogs or bobbin, only the tension, squeal, and loud clunks the machine had made prior to the first time I had it sent out for work. After the employee returned my machine to me, she handed me a bill for the work completed. Apparently I was past my one-year warranty by a couple days, which may not have happened had Clarrisa returned one of my many calls. I did not pay the bill for a couple reasons, the first being that I was not told there would be a charge when I dropped off the machine and second being that Clarrisa had told me they would fix my machine regardless of warranty. I told her if my not paying was an issue for management to have Clarrisa call me and we could discuss, since she was the one who had originally told me not to worry about whether I was within the warranty time frame. I never heard back from her.

Because I am no longer within the one year warranty time frame and any repairs will cost me, I have not taken my machine back in. I have not sewed on it much in the past couple months and it still is making the high-pitched squealing sound.

The issues this machine has presented have caused me to miss deadlines for blog related projects. I have been unable to free-motion quilt and because of the many tension issues, have been forced to send out some of my personal quilts to a long-arm quilter at a high cost to me. My confidence in taking on new projects has been shaken, not my confidence in my skill but my confidence in my machine.

I asked to return the machine after the second or third time I took the Sapphire into the store for repair, but because it had sat for six months while I was pregnant and learning to be a mom, I was past the point for return. I asked to trade in my machine for a new one of the same type since mine was clearly a lemon. I was told no yet again. I asked to upgrade my machine, to use it as a trade-in for the value I paid and I would pay the difference for another machine in the shop. This time I was told I could but they would only give me a miniscule amount for my machine and the cost difference to the next machine up was more than I paid for my machine to begin with.

I get asked on a regular basis which machine I have. Do I like it? Would I recommend it to someone looking for a new machine? Would I do a blog post review of my machine? Would I post about my machine in my “About Me” section on my blog so anyone can easily see about my machine? As I’ve blogged, I have casually mentioned here and there about Vera (the name I have given my machine) and her many issues, but not wanting to have constant negative posts, I have tried to be less forthcoming with my sewing machine problems. I do, however, have a wide following through the blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Flickr, to name a few, who know I have had nothing but trouble with my sewing machine. I have a couple blog friends who have this machine, and when I originally was looking for a new machine, I contacted them to tell me about their experience with the Viking Sapphire. One of the three Sapphire owners I contacted told me she had tension issues with her machine but that she sent it in once and the issues were remedied. Mine, however, were not. I cannot in good conscience give a glowing recommendation for this sewing machine.

I am at a loss. I feel I am stuck with a worthless machine, as it can only perform simple tasks (and not even very well) that I could have gotten from a cheap, $100 Brother machine. I feel that I have exhausted the resources and patience of the employees at the Viking store I purchased this machine from and am looking to see if there are any other options for me at a corporate level. In my optimal scenario, I would like to either swap my machine for the same model, either new or used, but one that works, or I would like to be refunded my full payment amount so I can purchase another machine that will suit my needs. I don’t know what you are capable of doing for me, but I appreciate you considering my problems and my requests.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

ASS Gurus help Parched in Perth

Being that I am the only American on the panel, I felt it was only appropriate that I answer our next reader's question.

Dear ASS Gurus,

I am beginning to finalize my plans to attend Sewing Summit in the fall, however I am concerned by the water situation. The city is called "Salt Lake City", which, I'm guessing is the result of being founded near a lake of salt water. If that is the case, will the water be safe to drink? Should I bring my own water to the Summit?

Parched in Perth

Dear Parched,

You are completely correct. Salt Lake City was, in fact, founded near the Great Salt Lake in the American Southwest (although to call it SOUTH, when I live in Arizona, makes it a bit of a misnomer). Originally, the lake was a vast salt mine, spanning miles across Northern Utah. These particular salt mines were located in the Great Salt Valley (those Utah-ians are quite the wordsmiths). Upon settling, the founders fell to local folklore, which said luck would be bestowed upon those who spit down into the Great Salt Valley. At the time, prospectors were rolling westward in search of gold and since they were traveling west anyway, they would stop by the Great Salt Valley to spit and dribble and phlegm their way to luck. It would take many years to turn this valley to a lake, but now it has become a tourist attraction for people the world over.


That being said, I would highly recommend bringing your own water. The cost of the extra suitcase will be worth avoiding whatever diseases you may encounter from the water sources, since, as you must already know, all the water in Salt Lake City comes directly and unfiltered from the Great Salt Lake. And, folklore hasn’t changed much. If you are looking for some supernatural help when clawing at other shoppers going after the last fat quarter bundle of Field Study, you may want to go spit in the lake too.


And, because the Great Salt Lake was “formed” in place of the Great Salt Mines in the Great Salt Valley, the buoyancy is amazing. If you have ever wanted to float on water (and if your feet are big enough, WALK on water) Salt Lake City is the place to do it. Draw yourself a nice warm bath. You won’t even be able to touch the bottom of the tub! But do be careful not to open your eyes in the shower and maybe try not to wash your hands if you have a massive paper cut (or a tap from Guru Laura’s rotary blade). The burning is intense, and if I hear you scream, I won’t come to soothe your wounds. I will be there to tell you “I told you so”.


Some of you may be thinking, “What if I buy bottled water while at Sewing Summit?” and to that I must remind you those beautiful scenes of rushing springs and babbling brooks are actually just wall hangings in the immense corridors of water bottling plants, which essentially bring Salt Lake water in buckets into the plant to be funneled into the clear bottles. To be fair, they may add some chlorine to clear the water a bit.

So Parched, I leave you with the decision: to bring your own water or not to bring your own water.

-ASS Guru Danny

PLEASE send us questions. Pretty please?

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