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The Fifteen-Year Quilt

Before I had a kid and before I devoted all my free time to creating physical manifestations of my colorful imagination on pulverized trees (i.e. books), I used to have this crazy thing called free time. Ya, it didn’t seem like it then, but I did. I tried my hand at many crafts during that time: wood-burning, cross-stitch, hot glue creations, latch-hook. One of my more daring projects was when I decided to make a quilt.

I had never made one before, didn’t know anyone who had, didn’t know how to do it. Like most everything, I researched the right way to do it…

…And then threw that out the window and made up my own way.

I started with some old clothes I cut up into squares. But I needed more material. So I went to JoAnn’s and bought all the cheap scraps of material I could find. I would probably pick different ones today. The overall theme of my quilt?

“Making a quilt.”

That’s it. There are tractors and stars and chefs and flowers, all sharing the same space. At some point, my future husband and I knew that we were going to buy a queen size bed. I decided to make it big enough to fit the bed.

What!?

I must have been crazy, you say?

Annnd you would be correct.

First time quilters out there–> do not make your first one queen-sized. (You will NEVER want to ever attempt another ever again.)

A close-up of the swirly quilting pattern I created myself.

A close-up of the swirly quilting pattern I created myself.

I don’t remember what kind of batting I bought, but I know it is fairly thick. Many of the top squares are flannel or sweatshirt material. I decided the back should be fleece. I know, not a traditional quilt backing. Just the other day I found the original receipt for it in the scraps. $72.23. $72.23! JUST FOR THE FLEECE ALONE! I could buy a quilt made by children in China cheaper. Oh, the date on the receipt? September 24,2002.

You see, I put all the layers together, basting and safety pinning them. Then I threw it in a garbage bag (to keep the dust off) and neglected it for 15 years. It had been so long since I worked on it that my husband said he didn’t even remember me starting it. That is, until I reminded him about when I had it spread out across our entire living room floor in my apartment and he walked on it, getting a needle in his foot in the process. That he does remember.

A close-up of the borders.

A close-up of the borders.

All those intervening years, I had anxiety over it. I kept adding it to To-Do lists, but it never got To-Done. We moved into our house. I designated a whole bedroom as a craft room with a vision of finishing that project. But we changed it into a railroad station bedroom for my son before the quilt was ever completed.

So, after finishing Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom, then getting through Christmas, New Year’s, and birthdays, I told myself I would not work on another book until I finished that quilt. It took about a month to quilt the layers together and sew the edge. Bear in mind, I own a sewing machine. but I have a mental block where I cannot for the life of me remember how to thread the blasted thing. So, a majority of the quilt was done by hand. Using the machine makes it a stressful experience, where as sewing it by hand is relaxing. A big bonus? You can binge Netflix while sewing, unlike when writing. Hello, Nikita & Birkhoff.

It is bigger than my couch!

It is bigger than my couch!

So, I did it. I finished it just this week. I’ve included pictures of the final product . I see why it took so long–>it is ginormous! I am afraid to wash it, because I am afraid it will fall apart. We slept under it. It may not have exactly the right dimensions, but it is totally warm.

I guess now I can add “quilter” to my resume of achievements. Not that I will be starting another one anytime soon.

Completed quilt on the bed.

Completed quilt on the bed.

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From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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Even Slot Machines Win Sometimes

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I don’t know all the rules and regulations, but I am pretty sure that even slot machines in a casino win sometimes. Or the casinos just set them that way to keep people pumping in their change. Either way, you get my point.

A typical crane “claw” machine


So then, what the fuck is up with toy crane (also known as claw) machines? They NEVER let you win. The crane is always adjusted so that it is super loose. The stuffed animals are always packed into the machine extra tightly. With these conditions, it isn’t a matter of skill or luck to get a toy out of it. It is just a rip-off. A guaranteed failure. If a machine implies that you could get a stuff animal (or candy, etc.) out of it for $1.00 by using a claw implement, shouldn’t you be able to say, once out of 10 times? 20 times? 100? Have any lawmakers ever actually looked into this? Proposed regulations? Probably not, as kids can’t vote. Although in my experience, youth in their 20’s sink a lot of money into these machines as well. And they are old enough to vote. But probably don’t.

In all my life, I found only one machine that would actually give up it’s goods. I have always figured that the man who set it up was probably new to his job. It was at the local movie theater. And for something like $10 or $11, my husband and I walked away with like eight animals that night. I did feel a little guilty. But, ya know, considering they make the plush animals in China for cheap and buy them in uber-bulk, they probably pay less than a $1 an animal for them anyway. And if a company advertises something at a price, someone should be able to collect on that. Not everyone, but someone at the casino should be able to say “I got $5,000 for a nickel.” Not everyone, but someone should be able to play the lottery and say “I got $25 million for my $1 ticket.” I am not sure that the crane machine operators can claim that anyone is getting a stuffed animal for a single dollar.

We should all stand up and be outraged by this heinous misuse of children’s amusement products! Crane machines are stealing our children’s happiness and innocence just as terminators from the future wish to steal our lives. Where will this travesty end? Food and beverage vending machines that take your money but give you no change? Or no product? OR BOTH! Carnival games that are rigged in favor of the house? Arcade video games that take your quarter and give you absolutely nothing to show for it?

Watch out world. Someday I will put this sort of passion into a real issue, like the right to gay marriage or getting President Obama re-elected. Then I will be unstoppable in my mission!

Or, what if I lobbied to get all the stuffed animals in the machines “Made in the USA”? I bet that would drive the price up at least five fold!

Maybe I should train my son to do this


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