November 2005

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The Ami Simms Newsletter
November 2005
Copyright by Ami Simms

Hope everyone had a great Halloween. I went as a middle-aged quilter covered in stray threads and dog hair. No wait, that's how I usually dress.

Apparently many of you could relate to my loss. Mary wrote: "I've lost my car keys. If you find your jeans would you check the pockets for my keys."

Judy K. finds more things in the laundry than she loses. Although she suggests the following scenario, I'm not sure she is totally above suspicion: "I am forever finding pairs of jeans that I don't remember purchasing in the closet. I think the single socks just band together, form a humanoid shape and go shopping while I'm gone to work…sort of like those cartoons where the forest animals stand on each other's shoulders, dress up in a trench coat, fedora, and dark glasses and pass themselves off as a human.

I was also gratified to learn that many of you totally understand the concept of "division of receipts" and how that makes everything actually cost less. Debi C. reminded me that this is akin to baking when one already has already purchased the necessary ingredients: "I used to amuse my husband by saying contributions to the boys' school or church bake sale were pretty much "free" since I already had the cake mix and oil in the pantry and the eggs in the fridge. I MEANT I didn't have to run out to buy anything extra. If it was already here there was no additional cash layout, so therefore, it was FREE!!" (Let me just add that if you make a quilt from fabric already in your stash, it's free too.)

The real update is that I found my pants. All three pairs. My quilted clothes chute (see page 47 in How Not To Make A Prize-Winning Quilt) had a severe obstruction. As the chute funnels dirty laundry from our second floor linen closet, through a closet on the first floor, and then finally to the rafters in the basement where it can be unzipped over an industrial laundry cart this often happens. Especially if I elect not to do laundry until the chute is full. I do have access zippers on the first floor where the chute typically develops a hernia, but I hadn't checked there thinking a quick look north and south would be enough. Well, the errant jeans were the source of the clog. Looked like my patchwork snake had swallowed, and was now digesting, a very large rodent. A quick unzip and out they popped. I am so relieved.

Angie who lives in the middle of the Irish Sea on the Isle of Man writes: "We live in a fairly remote area and used to keep Toffee, our Golden Retriever, on a lead when she needed to go outside. (Trailing over the fields and hills in dressing gown and fluffy slippers in the pouring rain ain’t fun – ask me how I know!) Toffee has now perfected the art of the “Bonio Wee.” At the ripe old age of 15, Toffee has learned that when she is shown and allowed to lick a Bonio dog biscuit before she goes out if she comes back in again swiftly she will get the Bonio. Now to work on her pal, Adie, a poor old black spaniel. He’s not as bright as her sadly and so far it has not worked. Tip: Don’t allow a black dog to go out into the black night if he doesn’t know his way back.

Sandy K shares a hysterical video clip. Make sure you've visited the Little Quilter's Room BEFORE you watch this one folks. Click here.

I can't remember how I came across this sight, but if you want to learn how to dance with your dog, you'll want to watch the videos.

In October I had two chance encounters with readers of this newsletter when I least expected it. It's not too unusual to have someone come up to me at a quilting conference and introduce themselves, having recognized me from a previous workshop, a lecture, or even from my deer-in-the-headlights impersonation on the handful of television segments I proudly list on my resume. However, in real life this never happens.

Yet, there I was sitting in seat 5-B on a flight from Detroit to West Palm Beach with Mom on my left and Madison at our feet when Hannah and her mother came down the aisle. Hannah's mom asked if I was me and I was! I just about fell out of my chair! The very next day my cousin Niki and I were shopping at the Jupiter, Florida Costco (a big thrill for me) and a former student stopped me between the bales of avocados and the lox hermetically sealed in plastic and asked if I was Ami Simms. Indeed I was. Again! Having my odd-ball first name pronounced correctly by anyone other than a family member is a shock at any time, but for the second time in as many days, it was just unbelievable. I was so excited I immediately forgot the woman's name (I'm so sorry) but it was such a wonderful feeling I celebrated by tasting every free sample in the place.

Aside from the lox, the best purchase at Costco was a set of 100 gel pens in a sturdy plastic container with a very cool zipper for only $17-and-something. My lightning quick mathematical computations revealed that the price per pen was "really cheap" so I bought TWO sets! You can pay slightly more on the Costco website, but the price includes shipping. What a deal! To buy gel pens at Costco click here.

In addition to these two fortuitous encounters I received an email shortly after the October newsletter went out from Amanda who has honored me by naming two of her cows after me. No, she doesn't have two cows named Ami. That would be confusing. One is named Ami and the other is named Simms. For pictures and the full story click here.

I'll be back to Florida again later this month (November 17, 18, and 19) visiting with the Naples Quilt Guild for a lecture and two workshops. I shall then hold court in the Jupiter Costco on the 20th. If you happen to be driving from Naples to Jupiter after class on the 19th and would like an additional passenger, let me know. I own an extra set of gel pens that could be yours. For lecture and workshop information, click here.

I'm not sure if I want to encourage this sort of thing, but a renegade quilter confessed that she has used her Quilters' Portable Workstation in an unauthorized fashion. At least she did not cross state lines to do it, so there is no fine. Nanette writes: "When we went to Charlotte I brought my QPW with me. I used it for my knitting project. It worked great. I have a sweater I'm trying to make that is a fisherman's knit with all these cables and specialty stitches. I find it hard to work in the car because I'm constantly looking at the directions and looking for my cable needle. The clips on the work area of the QPW held my pattern in place and the pockets held my cable needle. Awesome! Also having the pillow on my lap, allowed me to sit more comfortably when I was knitting. Thanks!!! I couldn't work on this sweater in the car without the QPW, believe me I've tried." For more details, click here.

If you had a chance to watch me on Quilters News Network with my hand quilting show, you may have been among the many who inquired about the hoop I was using. Check out my lap quilting hoop see Grace Frames.

The extremely popular "Dog-Yeared" block of the month patterns starring Puppus Doggus are now available on CD! Pop it into the cup holder on your computer and you'll have full-color instructions for all twelve months plus the fire hydrant pattern for the quilt back. Read the instructions on your computer or print them out. Full-sized appliqué patterns are ready to print. Use my Steam-A-Seam2 instructions or any hand or machine appliqué technique. Save 20% if you order now with the Prepublication Special. CDs should ship in about 3 weeks. Madison even has a "guest appearance." Order yours now.

In the September newsletter I shared a comment from some wise-acre that I should make a Rag Fur Jacket out of camouflage material for hunting. Well I dismissed this out of hand as I prefer to kill my deer with the front end of my car. Special clothing is not required. But, Lynn writes that should I ever need to blend into foliage, I need only look as far as the Cabella's catalog for an entire line of pseudo rag clothing, including an attractive face mask/hood. Visit Cabella's.

See MY Rag Fur Jacket pattern here.

Teaching a Rag Fur Jacket workshop? Get a free Teacher's Guide.

Paula Brown and her buddies made Rag Jackets

Charlotte Prouty made a Rag Fur Jacket and posed in front of a huge tipped-over tree.

Betty, Linda, and Jane show off their Rag Fur Jackets

Rose in NJ let's us see her stash. You'll have top open the door. I'm too frightened!

Sarah Doty made a Twisted Sisters quilt.

Dee Bradford made a great Hugs & Kisses quilt:

I haven't ever run out of gas, but I've gotten pretty close. Steve knows I drive around on the fumes and usually takes pity on me. Not only will he fill up my tank, he'll get a car wash for me too. This would be an awfully sexist division of labor if he did all the yard work and car stuff, and I did the grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning. It's not sexist at all. I don't do the grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning either.

But, I digress. Two weeks ago I decided it was time to fill my own tank or risk walking home. I negotiated the self-serve at the Mobil without incident and even purchased a car wash. Having ridden along for the "Getting of the Gas" I am at least familiar with the process. I drove around back to the car wash, punched in my code and was asked electronically if I wanted to upgrade to a deluxe wash. Certainly not. Strangely, there was not a button to push for "NO" so I poked the Cheapskate Wash button again.

That seemed to satisfy the machine, or so I thought, until it flashed ENTER CAR WASH at me. Well I had already selected the car wash I wanted, thank you. So I pushed the No Frills button a second time! Stupid machine. It flashed at me again: ENTER CAR WASH! Well I was totally flummoxed. How was I to tell it so it would understand? There was no ENTER button anywhere on the face of the machine. I looked over, under, and on both sides and finally shouted at it, "I just want the CHEAPO wash!" Again it flashed ENTER CAR WASH. Blast! I pulled out my cell phone and yanked the phone book out of my glove box so I could phone the gas station and tell them their machine was nothing less than infuriating when I happened to look up and saw the big, neon, green flashing sign on the brick wall to the left of the opening to the car wash. It said "ENTER CAR WASH." Oh. You mean DRIVE INTO CAR WASH. I see. Well. Why didn't you SAY so! (I must be spending WAY too much time on the computer.)

Quilter's Access is up and running with chances to win prizes and read articles and tips shared by quilters who can't figure out how to enter a car wash, but who do know one end of their needle from the other.

Amy and Jack Simms have finally arrived at their official Peace Corps assignment. Their most recent email is called Life At School. Life at School.

The More Than Warmth Quilt Project is an educational project begun by Judith Biondo Meeker, a school teacher in TN, for students of all ages to learn about world cultures. It fosters understanding, knowledge, and compassion between cultures through nonviolent, nonpolitical, and nonreligious means. Over 7,000 American children have made quilt blocks and their resulting quilts, more than 700, have gone to children in war torn countries all over the world. More than Warmth applies a simple of concept drawing a quilt square and opening your heart. It sends a gift of happiness and hope to others.

May 2006 is just around the corner. I've been practicing my Spanish (Arrrrrriba!), my French (Oooh-la-LA!) and my Italian (Mamma Mia!) I've already ordered cloudless skies, calm seas, and warm temperatures. All we need is YOU! How 'bout it?

November's free quilting pattern is "Whirlybirds" designed by Susan Fuquay. Thirty pinwheel blocks swirl overhead. It is super simple, super fun, and FREE with every order from Mallery Press this month.

Not sure what you need? I'm still having fun with my pointless Classroom Compass.

My hands are baby-bottom soft because I'm giving them a One Step Manicure. (They smell great too!)

Soften your other parts with Surgeon's Skin Secret.

Darlene Christopherson has developed a new tool making the planning and preparation for dogtooth borders a snap. Whether you are an avid hand or machine worker, the DCC DOGTOOTH TOOL will make the process effortless. No math, no worries, this tool works with any size quilt whether square or rectangular. The corners are perfect every time, conquering the main issue with this type of border treatment.

Darlene’s website guides you through the process in vivid color following a small lesson that relates to any quilt project. If you can mark dots, cut from dot to dot and fold from dot to dot, you can do this! The height, width, and spacing of the points are uniform and consistent. Inside and outside border treatments are both easily executed using this convenient method. See her Dog Tooth Tool.

Here's a freebie that seems to have so much potential, if only I had a need for it. If you need a free, disposable, pocket organizer that you make yourself, this could be just the ticket for you. Watch the video instructions.

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.

Be good to each other and have a great quilting day! (Or several!)
Ami Simms