February 2006

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The Ami Simms Newsletter
February 2006
Copyright by Ami Simms

Thanks for double-clicking! I wonder what would happen if all 17,134 people currently subscribed double-clicked at the same time. OK, probably nothing.

By the way, there is no limit to the number of people who can read this newsletter. Please forward (all of it) to anyone you think might be interested. Should you want to reprint sections for your guild newsletter (virtual or "Paper") you must ask permission.

Last Friday we moved my mother into an Alzheimer's care unit about ½ a mile from our house. After nearly four and a half years of caring for her here at home, we realized we could no longer keep her safe. This was not an easy decision, nor has it been an easy transition. It was, however, the right decision. The Alzheimer's had progress to the point that she was having trouble locating her own bedroom, she couldn't identify food, and she had tried several times to "escape" in the middle of the night. Not good.

Thankfully, Mom is adjusting well, and I have a new part-time job.

My new part-time job is temporary "cruise director" at the Alzheimer's care unit, having realized that if I bring a "project" to do with Mom in the common room (where all the other residents can join in) she's much less likely to plead with me to take her home when I come to visit. So far we have:

1. Painted. I found Elmer's Squeeze Paint Brushed. The paint is in a tube with a built in brush at the end. Take off the foil seal, THEN squeeze and stroke. Pretty cool:

2. Washed Buttons. I brought in a plastic tub, filled it with warm water, and tossed in a couple pounds of old buttons. We soaked, stroked, and dried. Sorting by color or size was beyond Mom, but I plan on bringing other buttons back to sort by color for the other residents.

3. Made Mongolian Wall Hangings. Take an old dead wooden hoop (any size) and wrap a 3" strip of batting/fabric leftover from your last quilt around the wood. When you get all the way around, tie a knot and let the remainder hang off. Rip 8 or 10 strips of cheap fabric of different colors selvage to selvage and tie onto the hoop, creating multi-colored streamers. The ripping is the most fun part, as it's something just about all the residents can do with some encouragement. We hung Mom's by her door so she'll have better luck finding her room.

4. Wound Pearl Cotton. I found some skeins of pearl cotton on sale last time I hit the fabric store. In pairs we wound them around pieces of cardboard.

5. Untangled Extension Cords. I brought in pairs of extension cords (household and "heavy duty") lightly tangled and some Lysol disinfectant wipes. Residents untangled the extension cords, wiped them down, and wound them up. (The men seemed to like this better than the buttons.)

6. Made a "By You" Tapestry. I took a 2 yard length of black fabric and sewed a "sleeve" on each short end. The top sleeve was threaded on my quilt stanchion and a piece of wood was inserted in the bottom sleeve to weight it slightly. I slit the black fabric about every 2" top to bottom, from sleeve to sleeve, and entire width of the cloth. We ripped the leftover fabric into more strips and as the residents gave me the strips I wove them in and out of the black fabric, knotting each end.

OK, help me think of some more!

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI)
Last month began a three-year adventure called the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. It was especially gratifying to read so many positive emails as I was coming to grips with what to do for Mom, and as we worked through the transition. Thank you for writing!

So far $653.65 has been collected for Alzheimer's research from the sale of Mom's note cards and the auction of the first eight "Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts."

There are only 25 sets of Note Cards left. I don't know if/when Mom will be able to do more. Please buy the ones I have left.

There are nine mini quilts on the auction block from now until February 10th. If you ever wanted to own a "Simms" now's your chance! Bid at:

If you support the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative please include this (or something similar) in your email signature:

I support the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative, a program to raise awareness and fund research to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease. All proceeds will be donated to Alzheimer's research. Learn more at: www.AlzQuilts.com.

Your "support" can mean anything from "I think it's a good idea," to bidding on a quilt, to making a Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt, all the way to creating a quilt for the traveling exhibit. By "voicing" your support in your signature you are personally helping me spread the word. I would be grateful. (Email me, so I can see how great it looks!) AmiSimms@aol.com

If you have a web page and would be willing to link to the AAQI page, grab a logo and some HTML. Logos come in small, medium, and large. After you've got it on your web page, send me an email with the URL so I can find it. If you want me to link back, tell me your home page URL. Your web page will be listed under our supporters.

If you've never made an entire quilt this no bigger than 9" x 12" let me tell you it's a blast. I've finished eight so far! What a feeling of accomplishment! Here's a chance to grow as a quilter while helping a great cause at the same time. Any theme, any technique. BE CREATIVE! (I know you've got it in you!)

Get great ideas for working small. See if YOU can go mini!

Learn how to make a fabric Post Card with Deb Richardson's tutorial. You'll laugh while you learn.

Learn how to do an EXCELLENT applied binding. Isn't it about time? (Works on bigger quilts too.)

Learn the slickest way to add a "sleeve" to a small quilt.

Terrified of sticking your toe in the water? Ease into an itty bitty quilt by starting with a pattern.

And, don't forget, there's safety in numbers. Ask your guild president if Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts could be a guild-wide service project. Ask your local quilt shop to host a "Priority Day." Invite some friends over to sew some mini's together and inspire yourselves silly.

Apologies to customers, tellers, and loan officers, but this is the most ridiculous name for a bank I've ever heard of. I find myself trying to "reduce" the fraction whenever I see their sign. As I am mathematically challenged I could spend my time more wisely by paying better attention to my driving. None-the-less, after pushing my eyebrows together and clenching my butt muscles, I come up with 1 and 2/3. Great. One and two-thirds of what?!

Maybe there's another partial bank building behind the one I can see from the road. And it's two thirds finished.

Maybe they're service is so good they're giving 166.6% effort which even annoys me more because it reminds me of people who say they're giving 110%, which is just "doofus" because isn't 100% ALL of something? So how can you give more than ALL?

I knew if I began this tirade, it would be a slippery slope. I just couldn't resist. Do NOT email me to tell me of the merger of the Bank of the Ohio Valley which was purchased by the Third National Bank in 1871, thank you. I've just been to the web site. The people who want to be "the only bank I'll ever need" go on to tell me: "With the turn of the century came the union of the Third National Bank and the Fifth National Bank, and eventually the organization became known as "Fifth Third Bank." See:

Yeah. Sure. I bet it was something slightly less stupid until some ad agency got a hold of the name. And, I bet it was a lot more recent than the turn of the century. Unless they're talking about the turn of THIS century.

Either way, bank names have a long history of being stupid. I like the "First National Bank." It sounds good and solid. Second National Bank? Not so much. It's like they're starting out aspiring to be second best. Third National Bank? Even worse. It just shows an appalling lack of creativity.

Grocery stores, for the most part, have better names. With better histories. Growing up, we shopped at the "Dexter Davison." (Named for the corner of Dexter and Davison.) It was actually located at Coolidge and 10 Mile Road, but I always assumed that at one time it USED to be at Dexter & Davison, unless those two streets don't intersect.

We also shopped at Farmer Jack. My girlfriend in high school stared calling it Farmer Yak, and that's what I've called it ever since. Great name. Our local Farmer Yak decided it wanted to be a glorified dollar store one day and then about six weeks later it closed for good. I hope it wasn't something I said.

We also had Hamady stores. They were only here in Flint, Michigan. I remember them from when I was a new bride. I think the last Hamady closed 15 years ago, but true Flintoids still call paper grocery bags "Hamady Sacks." The legacy lives on.

Grocery stores have nailed the name thing. Except for one that comes to mind: What's with Piggly Wiggly?

I'd like to introduce you to Terry Switzer Chilko, a new pattern designer. Her pattern is just your cup of tea, or coffee, or milk, or hot chocolate…or…. You get the idea. Take a look at her "What's in YOUR Cup?" pattern.

Many years ago, I purchased an orange sweatshirt three sizes to big because I fell in love with the stained glass fish pattern appliquéd to the front. I purchased it in Houston from Kathleen Parman because she was the designer and the XXL was the only size she had. I swam in it, but I wore it on the last day of every teaching trip for probably a decade because it was warm, and comfy, and "quilty." That too-big sweatshirt meant that I was going home. Silly how we get attached to things, isn't it?

The sweatshirt surfaced on the day I was going to make a Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt. It's definitely seen better days, but it occurred to me that one fish block the perfect size for a quilt that didn't want to be any bigger than 9" by 12". I contacted Kathleen and now you can have as much fun as I did making her design. Her trademark "Herky-Jerky" machine appliqué is a blast to do. You'll definitely want to try it on other things too. Go ahead, reel this one in.

In my spare time I've been testing marking pencils, over 25 of them. I've settled on a new favorite: Washout Cloth Markers. They're wonderful. They make a line I can see, stay on long enough for me to do something with the line I marked, and come out completely when I'm done.

The only problem was my Really Cool Pencil Sharpener didn't have a hole big enough for the large width Washout Cloth Markers! Figures. That began the "Testing O' The Sharpeners." In short order I found the pencil sharpener that fit the new pencils. Wow, did I ever. It's a three-in-one sharpener. It sharpens "regular" pencils, wide ones, and pencils that require a shorter point. See it here.

Forget chocolate on Valentine's Day, have I got a deal for you! Get three Washout Cloth Markers and the Three-In-One Pencil sharpener and you'll smile all year long without having to unbutton your pants.

All orders shipped out during the month of February will receive a free pattern designed by Susan Fuquay called Periwinks. Just 39" x 39" square, this little quilt will surely help you "think spring!"

Mary McCauley wonders about a sign she saw in Cedar Rapids, IA and Carolyn Griffin shares a strange road sign at:

Sabra Cole shares a photo quilt.

Jackie Voorheis made another picture play quilt.

Faith Phillips made a photo-anniversary quilt for her husband.

Dee Bradford made another PPQ

Jackie Caldwell finished her String Quilt.

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM KAZAKHSTAN Amy and Jack have another letter from Kazakhstan. Look for Jack in his Russian fur hat.

Special thanks to Jane K. from Pittsburgh, and my new cohort, the gal with four names (Mary Ann….), and to all of you willing to lend a hand with the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative.

Be good to each other,
Ami Simms