February 2008

The Ami Simms Newsletter
February 2008
Copyright by Ami Simms

Glad to see you, at least virtually. I hope you're keeping warm during these cold blustery days, unless you're in some wonderfully warm climate, in which case I don't want to hear about it.

I've had enough winter already, thank you very much, and I'm looking forward to defrosting soon. I also plan to complain about the heat when summer comes, but those four days of spring when my "perfect" temperature comes to Flint, Michigan, well, it's almost too good to be true.

I have big plans to clean up my sewing room, so I can get back in there and throw some fabric around in a productive way. I've kind of let it go. All right, it's beyond "gone." It's downright embarrassing. I'm writing this out loud so that it can come true. Verbal affirmation. Now I am honor bound to follow through with my threat of tidiness. It might be time for a "before & after" picture. Hopefully there will be a big difference between the two. Stay tuned. Better yet, come on over and help!

I'm delighted to invite you to visit the new home of the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative, at www.AlzQuilts.org. . It's a lot like moving into a new home. The walls are painted the carpet is new, the furniture is in, but not all of the boxes have been unpacked. There are still lots more pages to move over from the old site, but it feels great to be in our new home!

Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt registrations have resumed, but our registrar is currently on vacation. So, send in those emails and just wait patiently for a couple of weeks:

If you don't see your unsold quilt in the Waiting For Assignment pile, click here.

Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt auctions are now on eBay.com and they are in full swing. If you've never signed up for eBay, that's great! Here's a way to do it so that the AAQI earns money just for having you as a new member of eBay.com. Costs you nothing, just an extra click or two.

If you already use eBay.com, start HERE.

If auctions just aren't your thing, then you can still help the AAQI by searching the World Wide Web through www.GoodSearch.com . Select the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative as the charity you want to support and the AAQI gets a penny for every search. Free money! We'll take it!

Even more fun is GoodShop.com. Please visit there before you shop brand name stores online.

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative has already given more than $157,000 to Alzheimer's research. I can't wait to see how much farther quilt power can take us! Thanks for all your help.

Madison T. Dog here. One of my jobs is to panic when the smoke detector battery starts chirping. It's one of the things I do best. One chirp and I make a mad dash for my "cave" under Mom's desk. I do this because my ancestors, the wolves of "back in the day," shared the earth with screeching flying reptiles which emitted a similarly vile screech. I've seen the movies on TV, the one with the cowboys and the dinosaurs, which is how I know this. Mom says my species has just been inbred for so many generations I exhibit "certain genetic peculiarities." (Which is why I'm also so adorable.) Daddy says I have a brain the size of a walnut.

Either way, if I hide under the desk and shudder, the flying screeching reptiles will have a chance to eat Mom before they eat me. (Sorry, Mom.)

Dad got the ladder out to change the smoke detector battery. I wanted to go look at it, but it is very tall and metal, and even more frightening than the chirping noise from the smoke detector. I was very afraid that the ladder would move possibly. Or that it wouldn't. I could tell which prospect frightened me more, so I went under the desk again.

Mom and Dad were going to go out some place nice for dinner and leave me alone with the ladder. Dad didn't want to put the ladder away because it may have been something else chirping and he would have had to get the ladder out again. (And he says I have the brain of a walnut.) But, Daddy loves me, especially when I quiver and pant uncontrollably from fear, and he talked Mommy into taking me with them for dinner, which meant that they had to eat food wrapped in paper in their laps in the car while I slept in the back where the seat used to be. They do this so much they actually have a name for it. We call it a Dog Dinner because, well, it's all about me. In the winter about all you can do is eat in the car with a dog. In the other seasons we eat outside together. As humans they are pretty pathetic, but as dog parents they are pretty wonderful.

Back to Mom….

Sharron E. sent me an email telling me what she uses the rubber bobbin holder I told you about last month. She fills them with salt and uses them to prepare her Margarita glasses. It's just the perfect size. If this isn't motivation to make a rubber bobbin holder tutorial for YouTube.com, I don't know what is. I've already got the video camera battery charging. Hold that thought.

Does anyone have any great uses for other sewing tools and notions? I already share how one's iron can be used to make grilled cheese sandwiches in my lecture, "Living With Quilts: A Survival Guide." And, I show how you can cut a pizza with an Olfa cutter. I'm looking for other things along those lines. Put on your thinking caps.

"Photo Album Quilts" is a new book by Wendy Butler Berns. Wendy shows you how to turn photographs into machine appliqued quilts. Trace the photographs, enlarge your drawing, and then use freezer paper, glue stick, and invisible machine applique to create your masterpiece.

Each step is beautifully illustrated with lots of quilts and step-by-steps. There's a lot of good information here. Order a copy of Wendy's book.

Last night I went to brush my teeth before I crawled upstairs to bed and as I reached for my electric toothbrush, it turned on. All by itself. I have a cheapo (and yet mysteriously effective) Crest "spin brush." And, there it was spinning without me even pushing the button. It was possessed. Actually this happened once before, so technically it was re-possessed.

Lest you think this is amusing, try putting toothpaste on a spinning set of bristles going about 786 rmp. I got Sensodyne cool mint flavor all over the mirror, the medicine cabinet, and on part of the wall in the hallway! Thank goodness Madison isn't tall enough to clear the counter otherwise his fur would be minty fresh. (Maybe a good thing.)

The only way to get my toothbrush to shut off was to leave it in the sink overnight until it lost its charge. Leaving it on the counter was my first choice, but it vibrated off the slick surface onto the floor where the potential was far too great for it to become a new dog toy.

I just ordered a few copies of Nancy Kazlauckas' book, Thread Calligraphy, for you. She shows you how to drop your feed dogs and zigzag you're way to extremely cool letters and words done totally on the sewing machine.

The picture will be up on the web page Sunday, so stop by and take a peek at the cover of this very do-able technique book. You'll want Nancy's tricks for getting your thread calligraphy to actually look like it was planned and perfect instead of, well, what it would look like without having someone guide you through the process. This is a great book and a wonderful technique. Indulge yourself.

Do you live in Iowa? I don't, but I'll be visiting Ankeny, Iowa this month for a workshop and a lecture. Come on by and say hi! There may be one or two openings in the workshop, so reserve your space now.

Norma Strassler shares two very funny photos from Israel.

Velerie Hearder's new book, Points of View: Landscape Quilts to Stitch and Embellish (Martingale Publishing, 2007) offers nine super projects in which you'll learn how to use oil-paint sticks, colored pencils, crayons, "vanishing" muslin, and so much more. These landscape quilts are small, ready to mat and frame, or hang on a small wall. You can make them in a day! Valerie challenges you to look at fabric with fresh eyes. She creates a playground of fabric and tools and thread to get lost in, a place to throw away your fear of "not doing it right!" Order an autographed copy from Valerie.

To join Valerie's new online landscape group at Yahoo Groups, the same people who bring you this fine newsletter, sign up here.

Please do. Forward the ENTIRE thing to all your friends and even some of your enemies. Everybody enjoys a laugh or two. Please do NOT forward just part of it. Somehow my name gets dropped off when these things float through cyberspace and since I’m writing them for free, I should at least get credit for writing them. If you write a guild newsletter (real paper or online) and would like to “reprint” a particular part of the newsletter you must ask first. Here’s how.

Here's a rotary cutting tip. I just learned this from a student a couple of months ago and it just makes so much sense I can't believe I didn't know it intuitively all along. After you change your rotary cutter blade, drive it along the rotary mat. Does the blade spin? If it doesn't, loosen the tension on the nut on the back of the cutter until it does spin when you cut. Makes sense, doesn't it? Don't change the nut holding the rotary cutter. I like you just the way you are,

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