Monday, July 18, 2011

Various and Sundry Monday: Vol 14

Isn’t it strange that princes and kings
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings
And just plain folks like you and me
Are builders for eternity?

To each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass and a book of rules,
And each must build, 'ere life has flown,
A stumbling-block or a stepping stone.

–R.L. Sharpe, Stumbling-Block or Stepping Stone

What I Meant to Post Yesterday
Sometimes we stand on the precipice afraid to move forward because you can't see the way ahead. Sometimes, things we think are impossible are only optical illusions. All it takes is a little faith to find the ground beneath your feet.

He Is How Tall?
I have this brother. He's 19⅞ years old. He's out serving a mission for our church. I'm kinda proud of him {and I'm not just saying that because he's been out for nearly a year and I haven't written him}. He is out teaching people and doing service projects all day, every day. It's hard work. Trust me. I know.

On Mondays, he and his companion have some free time to do laundry and grocery shopping and play basketball with the other missionaries nearby. He and his companion also go to the library and he e-mails home and sends a couple of pictures each time. Sometimes he sends pictures of the people he's teaching, or the people who are helping him find people to teach. Sometimes he sends pictures of a cool place he's visited or of something that he's never seen before, like an ice storm. The photos in this week's e-letter kind of tickled my fancy. My brother writes, So once upon a time there was a man named Robert Wadlow. He lived in Alton, Illinois. He was the tallest man ever! He grew to be 8'11" before he died of an infection in his 20's. TRUE STORY!! I have seen a real picture of him. So my pictures are me standing next to a life size statue of him and me sitting in a replica of his chair. Pretty crazy eh?

Pretty crazy indeed! And almost impossible to imagine. There is a boy I work with who is 6'10" {P., I would totally introduce you if you weren't married, and he wasn't 24}. Even in my highest of high heels {clocking in at 4½"}, I don't even come up to his shoulder. I'm totally marvelling over this 8'11" man, Robert Wadlow.

On a completely different subject, I have quilting on the brain. As I was editing these photos, I noticed that the design in my brother's tie would be really cool to quilt as a filler pattern.

Not All 50-Weights Are Created Equally
10 days ago, I ordered some thread on-line. Lots of thread. Lots and lots of thread. 34,800 yards of 50-weight satin-finished 100% cotton thread on 29 spools. I went a little overboard {as you can see} and 10 of those spools are Natural because at $1.74 a spool, the price was definitely right for collecting a good neutral for piecing. I kept my cart open in my browser for a week beforehand and would take colors out of my basket and add new ones in, trying to calculate which colors would be best in my next quilting projects. After I was certain I had the right mix of colors and neutrals, I submitted my order. And then I waited, all the while stalking the mail carrier. Today my thread finally came. And it is so beautiful.

But I have a small problem. Actually, my problem is that this 50-weight thread is not as small as several other spools of 100% cotton 50-weight thread I have hanging around, namely Gütermann and DMC. And it is definitely not as thin as 50-weight Aurifil Makò thread. Even the polyester Dual Duty I use for piecing is thinner. It is more like the Dual Duty 30-weight cotton quilting thread.

I was a little let-down. The cotton Dual Duty is a nice, thick utilitarian thread. It is good for meandering or other over-all patterns that don't cross much. The thread I ordered is nearly identical to the Dual Duty in look and in feel. It's not bad thread, not by any stretch of the imagination. It is actually really good quality. It just doesn't dazzle in a quilt. It kind of just lays there on the fabric like a dead fish. It's not Aurifil. The Aurifil {in the one quilt I've used it in} becomes a part of the quilt.

I've been admiring Wendy's work at Ivory Spring for many months now and she uses Aurifil. I love how the thread shimmers in her quilts. I'm going to try my hand at a bit of fancy quilting on the Pinwheel Sampler. The quilting I've mapped out is inspired by Wendy, as well as Leah Day at The Free Motion Quilting Project, Christina at A Few Scraps and Lane of That Man Quilts?. Some of the designs will have quite a bit of thread-play and a thicker thread means that there will be some pretty obvious dead fish in the areas where the thread builds up.

I've been debating this back and forth in my head all afternoon. When the thread arrived and wasn't as fine as the one spool of Aurifil that I have {which I picked up on a whim from a basket of spools sitting on the counter by the cash register at the shop two blocks from my work and nearly died of sticker-shock when they rung me up}, I was ready to put it back in the box and send it back. Because even the DMC thread was kind of dead fish-like on the Snowball Quilt in the areas where I did a lot of backtracking. I wanted to skive off work and drive to one of the four locations in the whole of Utah that sells Aurifil to get the colors of thread that I need right now, so I can start quilting the Pinwheel Sampler. Granted, the closest shop is only 20 minutes from home. But I really hate driving across town for anything. Even fabric or really fantastic thread. And skiving off work is never a good idea.

I took a deep breath, pulled over and called Mr. Bug, so he could look up the number of the shop for me. The woman I talked to was really helpful in shopping over the phone with me. She told me that they carry the 1400 yard spools in neutral colors {and at a really reasonable price, relatively speaking}, but only stock the colors in smaller {and might I add, super expensive} 220-yard spools. I will need more than 220 yards of each of the colors I want to use in this quilt.

Sitting here, twirling the thread I ordered between my fingers, it's not very much like a dead-fish. I could send back 8 or 9 of those spools of Natural and get some more colors instead, because I think it is definitely too thick for piecing. The colors are so pretty, and the thread itself it smooth and strong and has a beautiful sheen to it. But it's still not Aurifil. I've found a site that sells all of the Aurifil colors on big spools for $8 each. If you order 4 or more you get a 10% discount and if you order 10 or more you get a 20% discount. I could take my fabric up to the shop that has Aurifil, match colors and write down numbers, buy one spool of cream thread to get started quilting and then order the rest on-line. But that doesn't seem very fair to the quilt shop. Does anyone who lives near me have and Aurifil color card?

I'm not coming up with any clear solution that satisfies my need to have Aurifil thread for quilting {and in every color, I might add} and my desire not to waste time driving all over town for some of it and having to order some of it on-line and not spend a zillion dollars doing it. I'd also like to not have to mess with the hassles of returning the threads I just ordered. Maybe while I'm sleeping, those magical creatures who sneak in at night and do the laundry and dusting and vacuuming and dishes will transform the thread into a true 50-weight thread, like Aurifil. Then again, they're behind on the laundry and dusting and vacuuming and dishes, so I won't hold my breath.


QuiltNut Creations said...

Aurifil IS a lovely thread. we used to sell it then went to a similar thread; have tons and tons of that leftover(around 1000 spools lol!) and now we are getting back to Aurifil; which I have yet to quilt with.

Paulette said...

I'm sorry you're not feeling the love with the thread you ordered. Do you happen to have any white or black Essentials thread that I could take off your hands? I'd buy it from you plus shipping. I was intending to order some but haven't gotten around to it yet.

Life is short, so by all means use what you love! I've never used Aurafil thread, so I only have the not-so-great threads I've used in the past to compare.

Michelle said...

Well that's the pits! I hope those elves do stop by.

Shay said...

I've heard good things about Aurafil thread but it's really expensive here so I use a lot of Raisant. Marg told me about it and it's cheaper and IMO superior to Gutterman.

There's nothing worse than having thread you arent confident about. Im always amazed by the difference thread can make to your piecing and I only ever use good stuff for quilting. Hope you work it out.

Sarah Craig said...

And to echo P., I'd probably take the natural spools off your hands - we do a lot of utilitarian quilting in our quilt ministry and go through a lot of natural colored thread! Cost and shipping, of course! Just let me know....

Angie said...

I agree with you, Aurifil is the bomb diggity...

Have you tried YLI Soft Touch? It is my FAVORITE piecing thread and it quilts beautifully too. Plus it is cotton but light weight and a heck of a lot cheaper.

Sew Fine is nice too. It is poly but not so shiny as some...lovely stuff.

whimsyfox said...

geee, I feel like a country bumpkin. never heard of Aurifil or some of the others mentioned. i thought i was being snooty by using the Gutterman and couple spools of Mettler.