October 2005

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The Ami Simms Newsletter
October 2005
Copyright by Ami Simms

AOL Users, please see end of newsletter for hyper-links.

I'm not typing in the buff, but I am concerned that I can't seem to find the new jeans I recently purchased. I've looked everywhere and I'm just heartsick.

You see, I recently "upgraded" and bought four pair of jeans from a popular mail order catalog beginning with the initials L.L. They were on sale and they looked like they might fit, and I succumbed to their dastardly color catalog once again. I didn't buy the jeans all at the same time mind you, as that can get costly. No, I purchased them individually after waiting several weeks in between because it's much less expensive that way.

Don't do the math because I won't believe you anyway. Just let me explain: if I were to go out and buy four pair of jeans at the same time the cost would be enormous and I would be quite self-indulgent. We can't have that. I don't NEED four pair of new jeans when I have a whole shelf of perfectly good jeans already. BUT, if I purchase a pair here, and a pair there, each bill is much less. (SEE?!) Purchasing them one at a time allows me to prudently fill out my wardrobe.

This is the same way I purchase quilting fabric, although the time in between purchases can be much less. I'll go in and buy an armful of Fat Quarters and then on my way out the door notice a bolt I hadn't seen before. I turn right around and buy a yard. It's wonderful. I don't mind digging out my credit card again because, you see, I have two bills instead of one. (If it were ONE bill, it would be a LOT more money!)

Back to the jeans. They turned out wonderful. I mean it's hard enough buying jeans in a real store where you can try them on. I've tried on as many as six pair of the same brand, color, and size, only to have them all fit differently! So annoying! In fact, I've cut down my dressing room time significantly by only purchasing the same brand of jeans for the last 12 years. Imagine if I had to try on multiple selections of the same color and size in DIFFERENT brands. I wouldn't get any quilting done at all! So, the fact that these new Bean Jeans fit so nicely, is, well, miraculous!

The handful of men reading this newsletter have already tuned out, but if they were still with me, they won't get this next part either. I have "fat" jeans and "non-fat" jeans, depending on what my waistline decides to do on any particular day. It is totally out of my control. There is nothing worse then wearing non-fat on a fat day. You can barely button, and bending over is out of the question. Similarly, if you're having a "thin" day, the last thing you want is a "fat" pair of jeans. Such a waste! You know those little brass safety pins you can baste quilts with? Well, I slip one around the belt loop of my "non-fat" jeans so I can tell them from the others. Sorry, I'm digressing again…

So, the jeans are missing. I'm particularly concerned about three of them, the three which earned a safety pin on the belt loop. The fourth must have been the runt of the litter, assembled in Honduras or something. They're somewhat hard to zip and if I drop anything Madison will have to pick it up for me. Still, I was too embarrassed to return them and planned on saving them for "really thin" days. They should last forever.

Back to the pants. They're not in my closet, of course not much is. I dress in the basement where the washer and dryer are. I searched through the dirty clothes and the clean with no luck. It's like they have disappeared into thin air. We know this happens to socks, but I had no idea I'd loose four pair of pants, and all at once! Jennie had the cutest turquoise romper when she was an infant. It had a little hood and a yellow bill on the hood and there were embroidered duck feet on it and it was just adorable. She wore it three times and then the house ate it. Never saw it again.

I am not certain what exactly happens when stray socks or rompers go missing, but I suspect they trade houses. (This is why I am asking you now if you have seen my pants. Could you check your closets, please?) I have found items that did not belong to us in the wash: other people's towels, socks, etc. Once, a blue chambray work shirt with a number stenciled on the pocket appeared in my closet one day. On a hanger, no less. I am not making this up. I thought for sure I'd find a bare-chested inmate to go with it and was quite concerned. I have never found strange fabric in the wash but several clingy fat quarters once adhered themselves to Steve's dress pants and tried to escape the house. Luckily, we de-thread each other before venturing out in public so they didn't get far.

But back to the pants. I called Jennie to see if she had inadvertently taken a laundry basket of my clothes back up to school with her. (It could happen.) As a sign of her increased maturity (college senior) I got a measured explanation of how this would not be possible due to various timing situations and logistical issues, instead of an eye roll. Steve, whose idea of "picking up the living room" is to throw anything not nailed down into a laundry basket and chuck it in a closet or down in the basement, was fairly certain he hadn't seen them either. Madison claims not to know where they are either. He looked like he was smirking when I asked him, but it's so hard to tell with dogs.

I cleaned out my sewing room and went through several laundry baskets of crud scraped off the top of my cutting table. I'd like to stress that the use of laundry baskets for this purpose is in no way related to the way my husband "cleans up" the living room. It is simply the most efficient and orderly way to temporarily store the triage of projects covering my cutting mat. It was merely coincidental that I found six pair of knee highs, two dish towels, an opened bag of rice crackers, and a pair of hand dyed underwear at the bottom of the third basket. Still no pants.

So, I'm giving up. I've looked everywhere and now it's up to you. I'm going to go quilt something.

The Alzheimer's Memory Walk was a huge success. Thanks to readers of this newsletter we raised over $3000. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your generosity. Read the full story and see a picture of my shirt with your name on it right here.

If you meant to make a donation, you've got one more chance.

If you've got a dog, you've probably heard of Greenies. They're a toothbrush shaped treat and while I think they taste kind of bland, Madison loves them. Through special arrangements with the company that makes these tasty canine treats, there is a special link on my home page for everyone to get a FREE greenie for their pooch. It will be mailed right to your dog. Click the picture of the dog on the top of my web page.

Greenies are now being made for cats. Fill out the online form and get a free four-flavor sampler (Ocean Fish, Salmon, Chicken, and Liver). I haven't tasted those yet. Go to my web page and click on the CAT.

Kudos and commendations to all the quilters who sent donations of quilts, blankets, cash, and other aid for the victims of Katrina. According to Quilts, Inc. over 9,500 quilts and 7,000 pieces of bedding were donated last month. (They have enough, thank you, and please donate locally.) There are some beautiful photographs and the full story click here..

Thanks to my friend Becky Goldsmith for showing me one of the most fun little play things I've seen in a long time. It's a kiddy compass that is just way too cool. It makes circles, and more circles. And still MORE circles. No points, just bright orange plastic. I ordered some for the web page and sat down with it and 30 minutes later I was still entertaining myself drawing circles! I suppose I could even use it for QUILTING! Click here.

In September I was "Designer of the Month" on QNN, otherwise known as "Quilters News Network." I think I forgot to tell you that last month. At any rate, I'm still online with three new shows playing throughout the day and night. So far I've only seen the Quilter's Tea segment I taped with Jim Kaiser of Surgeon's Skin Secret. I also taped a show highlighting my Invisible Applique stitch (Quilter's Coffee), How to Improve Your Quilting Stitch (another Quilter's Coffee) and a Quilter's Chat segment. For the full schedule, plus my "Log Window" pattern to download for free, click here.

Two other patterns will be available for downloading some time very soon on QNN. Meanwhile, they are available on my website in paper form. The first is my Hearts, Gizzards and Kidney Stones quilt. See it here.

And the second pattern is for my Quilter's Portable Workstation. I first developed this contraption in 1995. Made from recycled jeans, the Quilter's Portable Workstation is a tool I've personally used for more than a decade and I'm still amazed I thought it up myself! I've just redone the entire pattern and I must say I'm still impressed.

You've heard that "necessity" is the mother of invention? In the case of the QPW, it was a pain in the neck. I mean I was always hunching over to get a better look at my lap where my appliqué was sitting. Using a pillow to elevate my work to a comfortable height was my solution. It straightened my back and gave me a place to park pins. The only down side was that my tools slid off and my thread rolled away. OK, Steve didn't appreciate finding the parked pins either. Guess I should have used my bed pillow…

The QPW solved all that! It's smaller than a bed pillow, but just as poofy. It's perfect to rest your arms on to comfortably elevate your work surface, and you can park pins in it. There are pockets for thread and tools, plus more pockets for patches and blocks in progress. Wire clips hold bits and pieces in place, plus it's totally portable. Flop the lid over your work mid-stitch, zip it shut, grab the handles and go! Next time you open it, everything will be right where you left it.

The pattern isn't difficult, but it's not for sissies either. There are 72 steps! BUT, almost every one has a color picture, and there's a cute little check box to mark your progress for each step. There are also five zippers, but don't let that discourage you. The instructions are so clear, one pattern tester said, that she got over her "zipper phobia!" Take a look here .

For a limited time I also have a Starter Kit of zippers, and the very sturdy wire clips that are used in the Quilter's Portable Workstation to keep patches and partial blocks secure.

I'm trying to locate Sue DeWitt and Terry Blitchok. If you're them, email me. If you KNOW them, please tell them to email me. If a lot of you know them, just elect ONE person to tell them to email me.

Anyone work HIGH UP in the main offices of a LARGE CORPORATION? Is there anybody out there who could put me in touch with the executive officer in charge of "Global Community Relations," "Corporate Giving," or any of the other euphemisms for "we support really good causes if you know the right way to beg?" I have a large charity project that needs corporate sponsorship in a big way.

I saw a most intriguing product in an in-flight magazine recently. (After I examine the barf bag I usually page through the "shopping for people with too much money" magazine.) Here it is: Cellular Jewelry. Yeah. It flashes when you have a call coming in. So, not only can you set your phone to vibrate in your pants pocket (for those of you who can find your pants) but you can wear a plastic bracelet (wristwatch, or pen) that will flash too. Too bad the bracelet is on the ugly side. Even worse is that the technology won't work with my phone. Rats! See cellular jewelry here.

I got an email from Shirley B. who mentioned that I taught her something in class that she still finds very useful. That is so gratifying. As a teacher it's the best compliment you can get. No, what she finds so helpful has nothing to do with quilting, but that's OK. Apparently my class instructions include much more than the advertised topic. Shirley writes: "You talked about Madison, the helper dog, and how his training involved learning to "park" on command. THAT has been a saving grace to me. We take Maggie with us (a black lab mix) and sometimes I have only a small area or short time that she can go out to do her business. It's magic! I say "park" and she does. People are amazed."

Inquiring minds want to know, don't they…

Here goes: When we raised a Leader Dog puppy there were certain skills we were required to teach the dog in addition to socializing it. They included basic obedience commands like sit, down, stay, come, heel, and PARK. Our puppy counselor (Aunt JoAnn) explained that PARK, the command to eliminate, is called that because it's nicer to say PARK in public than what PARK sounds like when spoken backwards. I don't know if that is the official Leader Dog explanation, but Aunt JoAnn is a really fun person to hang around with.

As Shirley has discovered, this is a very handy command to have in your bag of tricks for any dog owner. For assistance dogs (service dogs like Madison, and dog guides) it's imperative. With PARK, you decide when and where, not the dog. It's easy to teach. Go outside with your dog and watch. As soon as you get the desired behavior, say in a high-pitched enthusiastic voice: "GOOD PARK!" Prior to going out the very next time, say (one time, enthusiastically) "Let's go OUTSIDE to PARK." Watch again, and when the desired behavior is accomplished, reward (GOOD PARK!) You may want to wait until the dog is finished parking, especially if it's an older dog. It can be quite disconcerting to suddenly have a cheering section when you're not expecting it. Some dogs learn faster than others, but you should see the light bulb go on over his head and something come out the other end in a few weeks. Be consistent. Reward good behavior, ignore failure.

When we had Daisy our yard wasn't fenced in. We took her outside to PARK on a leash. If your dog has short hair and you're paying any attention at all, at this proximity there are clues when success is imminent. I would open a plastic bag, give the PARK command, and at the opportune moment position the opened bag where it would do the most good. Daisy would oblige and I never had to scoop. A veritable hole in one! I apologize if this is too much DOG in the newsletter for you. But if it isn't, you might enjoy this addition to the Newsletter Gems. I didn't write it; Madison did. Read what Madison had to say.

Anne-Marie made a Twisted Sisters quilt here.

Nelia Masiques has a great place to store her seam ripper and Robbie Krieger has a great way to dry fabric. Click here.

Marnie shares a picture of her stash.

Elaine Braun has invented a system for storing fabric that actually keeps your fabric organized, AND saves space! Her "Fabric Storage Sheets," made of acid-free plastic, are at the center of it all---LITERALLY! Fold any yardage (½ yard or larger) from selvage to selvage. Then fold again so it is in quarters, just the way you prep fabric for rotary cutting strips. Place a Fabric Storage Sheet on top about 7" from one end and tuck the end in the cut-out tabs on the sheet to secure it. Then wrap the yardage around the rigid plastic as if in were a mini-bolt of fabric. Stack them in totes, hang them on the wall, or file them on a shelf like a library of cloth. Very cool! Transform chaos into order 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.

Be good to each other and have a great quilting day! (Or several!) Ami Simms www.AmiSimms.com AmiSimms@aol.com

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