Friday, April 29, 2011

The Beast; or, An Attempt to Regain my Quilting Mojo

Meet the 10-foot-long elephant in the family room.  It is a Viking Megaquilter on a Next Generation frame, and theoretically it is there to help me finish lots of quilts and maybe even (someday) finish enough quilts to sell and make money.  Grandma (my mother-in-law) generously provided for its purchase three years ago -- of course, she would like me to finish a few of her quilts, too.  And I have, 3 or 4.  But there is a special quilt she wants me to do on it, and in the past year (or longer, actually) it has remained, sadly neglected, while I have quilted zipzeronada quilts on the Beast.  The last finished quilt was the Cedar Tree auction quilt from last year about this time, and it was an "obligation" quilt too.  So, to overcome the malaise of no finished quilts and large amounts of quilt guilt, and to rise to the challenge I issued to myself, I am determined to start quilting - and finish quilting - the Shirt Stripe Boxes quilt top I recently finished piecing.

I had to dust the entire Beast, oil the machine, re-learn how to load the three rails (top rail is for backing, middle for top, bottom for batting), re-adjust the tension, get the ratchets to work right (they're always stiff and hard to work, especially when they've been sulking for a year), wind a bunch of bobbins and choose a stitch pattern that is within my limited abilities.  I actually have reasonably good machine quilting abilities, but they're very rusty.  And though I like the ability of the Beast to finish quilts expeditiously, it is a midarm and not a longarm and there are some patterns it is unwise to attempt on it because it doesn't have the range.  I also am a very wobbly quilter on it -- I do a little better at a traditional machine where my hands actually touch the quilt.  And I'm not making any claim to being one of those "art" quilters.
So, I decided on a crosshatching free-motion ziggy-zaggy kind of pattern, each unit done over a 1 1/2" square (the squares on this quilt are 3, 6, and 9 inches).  It's a fairly forgiving pattern and I should be able to stay reasonably consistent over the whole surface of the quilt.  And a good thing, too, because I'm committed now.

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