Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Long Haul

It is the last week of February and I had hoped to have another quilt done-done. Did not happen. But at least I have two flimsies ready - Red Cross and Royal Flush - and the backings are stitched and sized.  I have all the blocks for 1860s Revival ready to be trimmed and assembled. I made three blocks for Block Lotto.  And.....

I spent almost the entire Presidents Day cutting and sewing pieces for expanding Celtic Solstice to king-size.

I decided to resist the urge to start a new project and keep slogging away at this one and Blueberry Hill.  As for the two flimsies ready to go, I found spray basting works best for my rudimentary quilting apparatus (basic Singer sewing machine). Eventually the ground outside will be clear and dry enough to lay out the two flimsies for spraying. Then I can get some quilting done and FINALLY finish two more UFOs [and maybe start a new project!!!].

Life isn't all about sewing, thankfully. I spent yesterday with my daughter and her friend shopping for prom dresses. Yee gads.  Three hours and three stores later, they finally found their dream dresses. They posted their selfies online to 'reserve' the color and design --- no other girls at their school are supposed to buy the same one. Yeah, I hope that works!

On a higher note, the snow and ice are STILL blocking my hangar door.  We have dug out what we can but the snow keeps sliding down the roof, and drips inside the door keep freezing up at night. It was gorgeous flying weather yesterday, but not possible for me to get up yet. I am reading "Hawk and Me" by David Helms to pass the time. David shares his experiences of flying his beloved single-engine Hawk XP on a 10,000 mile journey across the US.  It's pretty good, a bit different than a couple similar journey books I have read. If you want a great one, though, I recommend Stephen Coonts "The Cannibal Queen". Coonts is an awesome writer; I felt like I took the trip with him in the 1942 Stearman.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Two Steps Forward

 You know the saying "Two steps forward, one step back"?  This year's theme is Focus (on Finishing). I have a goal of finishing three quilt projects before starting a new one. Three steps forward, one step back.  Autumn Leaves is done, Red Cross is ready to quilt, and both Royal Beads and 1860s revival are being assembled into a top. That's exciting! 

But my mind is already dreaming of which project will be the next NEW one.

Which project should I begin?  Please add a comment and let me know which one you'd choose.

1.  Bonnie Hunter's Double Delight (I like this border option)
2. Bonnie Hunter's Carolina Crossroads in blue & orange

3. Batik Jewelbox

4. Bonnie Hunter's Smith Mountain Morning

5. Or should I keep working on unfinished projects such as the expansion of Celtic Solstice into king size? I already cut the fabric pieces for the first step (neutral and orange triangles with tri-rec wings).

Friday, February 7, 2014

My New Baby (Airplane)

Below is an article I wrote about purchasing an airplane in 2012. Even if you don't fly (yet), you may be interested in reading about my experience.

I blame it all on fellow EAA chapter member Bill ____. Bill took me flying in his 1948 Cessna 170 and I instantly fell in love with his taildragger. “I’ve got to get me one of these,” I exclaimed. It handled so easily, just like a Cessna [duh!] and flying a taildragger was such a fun challenge. I was determined to own one. First step was to get that tailwheel endorsement which I quickly earned in a Citabria with instructor Greg _____.

When you are ready to buy an airplane, you have to think long and hard about what you want and how much you can afford. I wanted a four-seater to carry my family on trips, and enough power to get us there in a reasonable time. Various members in EAA Chapter 240 generously let me fly with them in their airplanes. But nothing clicked until I flew with Bill. The Cessna 170 was just right. After some research, I targeted the 1955 version, which is right before Cessna started putting that little wheel on the wrong end.

Next step was to find a 170 for sale. Bill is a member of the International Cessna 170 Association, and he called me after attending their annual convention which was held this year in Longmont, Colorado. He had met a guy who was ready to sell his 1955 170B due to his declining health. I contacted the nice Texas gentlemen and he sent me a bunch of pictures. The airplane was in fantastic shape inside and out, although the instruments had not been upgraded. I spent some time talking with the owner, but finally decided this airplane was priced outside my budget.

Bill and the Ghetto Hangar Gang pointed me to Barnstormers website which is so much easier to search than Trade-A-Plane. I caught an ad for N4491B but was too late. Some guy in Pittsburgh nabbed her. Then I found a fresh ad for an airplane in Palm Beach, Florida. It was tail number N4490B. And, yes, I had called the owner just in time. He sent more pictures and I showed them to Bill and Roger _____. They warned me that Florida is the worst place for an antique airplane because all that salt air invites corrosion. But I was determined to check it out. I definitely needed a thorough pre-buy inspection.

Roger _____ and the Ghetto Hangar Gang provided lots of advice on how to prepare for the purchase. This is nothing like buying a car! There are SO many steps!  Here’s what I did before I even touched the airplane.

1.    Contacted AOPA and EAA to get insurance quotes, then called an insurance broker directly who found an even better deal. I had less than 150 hours total and a fresh taildragger endorsement, so nearly all insurance companies wanted me to get 10 hours dual instruction then 10 hours solo time before carrying passengers. That sounds reasonable.
2.    Contacted Philadelphia FSDO to get the required forms 8050-1 Aircraft Registration and 8050-2 Bill of Sale. You have to use the original forms; they cannot be downloaded.
3.    Ordered a title search using a link from AOPA’s website.
4.    Used AOPA’s VRef tool to estimate the airplane’s value. I found it to be a bit low compared to what I had seen in various ads. Maybe they undervalue the classic beauty of 170s. Who knows?.
5.    Ordered a CD from the FAA on tail 4490B which contains ownership history and all the Form 337s (major changes) on the aircraft. Costs only $10 – what a deal!
6.    Figured out financing. I opted to use a home equity line of credit rather than an aircraft loan.
7.    Downloaded and printed all the Airworthiness Directives on Cessna 170s. The Gang was impressed by the book I put together.
8.    Prepared a simple Purchase Agreement. I wanted something to document the transaction for Pennsylvania sales tax purposes. They no longer accept those $1 sales. PA House passed a bill to eliminate sales tax on aircraft, but bill SB 1552 is still sitting with the Senate and I’m not willing to wait it out.

Mike _____, a fellow EAA chapter member who is both A&P and CFI, graciously agreed to perform the pre-buy inspection. I wanted a mechanic I knew and trusted. I wanted to be there, too, because this was going to be MY airplane and I wanted to look it over. We took a quick one-way flight to Palm Beach and the owner drove us to the most Beautiful Hangar-Home Community where the airplane was tied down. [OMG – if you ever win the lottery, buy a home in Wellington Aeropark!]

We spent several hot and humid hours opening up everything and testing the engine. The owner had a complete set of logs – good!  We spent time reading the entries and comparing them to known ADs and FAA history. The logbooks were in order other than a minor update that  we asked the owner to make in the last log. Then all three of us went for a flight. Ahhh, that smooth Cessna feeling hit me again. My stomach was jumpy because I really wanted this airplane.

By this time it was getting late and we needed to eat and sleep. The next morning, Mike and I met with the owner and began negotiations. Boy, I was glad I had done my homework. We agreed on a price, and I whipped out the cashier’s check, purchase agreement and the FAA forms. Yippee!  I just bought a plane!

After a few pictures, I climbed in the pilot seat and remembered to open the door for Mike. I don’t even remember the takeoff. I was already flying high. In reality we had to stay low to avoid a few rainclouds. Three hours later we made it to Jacksonville-Craig Airport. Yep, still in Florida. Darn headwinds. But 4490B met another admirer, the FBO mechanic who liked her shape. I was proud to show her off.

Another three hours and we made it to Florence, South Carolina. Yep, more headwinds but the clouds were gone and we could go higher. We climbed and watched the terminator rise up and create nighttime. ATC granted us flight following the entire route, handing us off to each center. After more than TEN hours flight we finally arrived at New Garden. My baby was home.

A huge, heartfelt Thank You goes out to everyone who encouraged me and guided me in this journey. I couldn’t have done this without you.

That determination paid off. I am now the owner/caretaker of Nine Zero Bravo. Watch for me as I work on my next few hours of insurance time. Then let’s go flying!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Nearing the Finish Line

It is exciting when you are almost finished making blocks for a new quilt. This quilt is a layout of my own design, using the Goose & Goslings block shown in a quilt in Moda Bakeshop called "Clover Cake Quilt" from sweetwater cotton shoppe.  I wanted to highlight the block and use a more traditional setting. The Goose & Goslings block first made its appearance around 1860 which is around the time my great-grandmother Berta Wendler was born (1868). She later emigrated to the US from Germany at the age of 15.

The working title of this quilt is "1860s Revival" or maybe "Mother Goose". Which name do you think would fit this design the best? Maybe I should call it "Silly Goose".  

Each block features a different fabric offset with muslin. The setting triangles fabric is Winter Wheat in Denim from Connecting Threads. I plan to use a wool batting and back it in a cream/blue toile, also from Connecting Threads. 

Anyway, I made another half block tonight so I need one more full block and two half blocks. Then I can pull everything together. Should I extend the setting fabric into a three inch border all around or just finish the edge without a border like most antique quilts?

Then it's time to Quilt as Desired. Okay. I'm thinking of echoing the zig zag on the sashing and doing a simple free motion design on the blocks. Or maybe I should sew groups of triple lines in the sashing?  Aargh, this is why I have so many flimsies waiting to be quilted! I have a hard time deciding how to quilt the darn things. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

And Many More!

Remember that Dr. Seuss book "Hand Hand Fingers Thumb"?  All those monkeys drumming on drums? As the monkeys multiply, one verse goes "Many more fingers, many more thumbs, many more monkeys drumming on drums".

Okay, why am I quoting Dr. Seuss?  Well, I have many more pieces, many more blocks, many more hours of sewing and watching the clock.  (Dum ditty dum ditty dumb dumb dumb.)  

My Celtic Solstice quilt is a faithful adaptation to Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery quilt.  I kept up with the clues and had all my blocks and borders ready to go.  Just when I was ready to assemble blocks and add the borders, my hubby begged me to make a larger version so it could be used as a bedspread.  OMG that is more than double the amount of sewing! But I'm glad he liked the design as much as I do!

So....I have enough of the colors and neutrals, and I even have plenty of green stripe for the outer border. Maybe a couple months later I will be able to report finally that I'm done. Just not now.

In the meantime, I am busy working on my UFO list and using up adhesive bandages. No, my sewing isn't hazardous. Just don't give me a knife.  Somehow I cut my finger while making peanut butter cookies. Dull knives do not cut plastic bags of brown sugar but they do cut fingers. (Ask me how I know.)  

Congratulations to my daughter for swimming in the final meet on Friday. Next up are the SATs. Oh boy.

I am a die-hard Broncos fan, after living in Denver for 10 years and marveling at the brilliance of John Elway and rejoicing with millions of fans in previous Super Bowls.  But Peyton Manning and the team sure did disappoint me tonight. <big sigh>  At least most of the commercials were worth watching. The Radio Shack commercial with all those 80s icons made me laugh.