Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Weekly tip: The Most Important Tool

Of all the tools in your studio, be it a kitchen corner, dining room table or studio, the most important one is YOU. Without it, that full-featured machine, the most wonderful gadget, the most perfect fabric is nothing.

Today's tip is one that will keep your most important tool from becoming overworked.  Use a minute timer wherever you sew and set it to 1 hour.   At the end of the hour, stand up, walk to the other side of the room, and do a minimum of these five "stretches".  (I'll post some more exercises later, but these are the basics).
  1. Neck roll.  While standing, keeping your shoulders down, try to touch your right ear to your right shoulder, then look up, try to touch your left ear to your left shoulder, then drop your chin to your chest.  Repeat three times, then reverse directions.
  2. Shoulder shrug.  Now is the time to bring those shoulders up toward your ears, then let them drop.  Do this ten times.
  3. Wrist flex.  Put your right hand directly in front of you as if you are singing the Supremes' Stop! In the Name of LoveI know you know the song, and the movement, too!  Use your left hand to gently flex the fingers back, until you feel the stretch in your wrist, and hold it for a few (that's three, people!) seconds.  Switch hands, and repeat the stretch with your left hand out and your right hand flexing your fingers.  Repeat three times for each hand.
  4. Back flex.  This reminds me of the chant of young girls  (We must, we must, we must increase the bust!)  LOL!    With both arms extended in front of you, hands closed (as if you are rowing) keep hands at chest level and slowly pull your hands back (as if you are pulling the oars back).    When your hands are back, hold the stretch for a few seconds, then return to the extended position.  Repeat five times.
  5. Eye Stretch.  While sewing, your eye muscles have been locked in a very near-sighted position.  To relax them, you need to focus on something in the distance.  This one requires a little preparation.  Either print an eye chart, or an inspiring quote and tape it in a place where you can look at it from across the room.  You may need to close your eyes (several times for me) to refocus, but keep trying until you can see the text.  If you have a window, focus on something outside in the distance.
Take care of your most important tool.  Maintenance is always cheaper, and less painful than repair.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Trip to Oaks, PA, September 2009

Last month, I attended the Mancuso quilt show, PA National Quilt Extravaganza.  This show is in its third incarnation, having been at Ft. Washington, and Harrisburg before it.  I think the third time is the charm.  The show had a large number of quilts, and vendors to match with products to tempt quilters to shop.  Many of the quilts were mini-shows, for example, a group featuring quilts from SAQA, a show featuring the Hoffman Challenge fabric, a show featuring quilts made during WWII, and a show featuring international quilts.

Remember my weekly tip, ABC--always bring a camera?  Well the codicil to that is always make sure said camera is charged.  My camera died five shots into my adventure.  Luckily for me, I knew almost 40 other people present from my various guild activities, and found three who offered me their cameras.  Unfortunately, the uncharged battery demon also struck the second camera, but I managed to shoot the rest of the show with a third camera.  I finally have gathered all the photos.  You can see them by clicking here.  Many thanks to Sylvia, Wannetta and Josaine.

The best thing about quilting shows is meeting people.  I also belong to Yahoo Groups African American Quilters.  While we most often see each other online, from time to time we do get to meet in person.  In the photo is Jeanyne James,  whose booth featured extraordinary collectibles, ceramics, pins, and home decor.  I couldn't resist buying one of her beautiful pins.

I had hoped my next trip would be Houston, but without a Saturday stay, the cost has become prohibitive; I'll have to catch the quilts in Chicago!