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Monday, February 24, 2014

Longarming and Ergonomics

Once again a topic has developed on one of the groups I participate in and it involves something I think should be shared here. In our case we use an Innova Longarm by ABM International, our choice. But based on seeing other machines being used and using other machines I think my thoughts are worth sharing. If it helps one longarmer get just a little more comfort while using their machine then I know it was worth sharing. Think about it. The machine comes with numerous features that are adjustable...adjust it to fit you.

My wife, in a former life, was a Health, Safety and Risk Manager for years. One of her recognized fields of expertise was Ergonomics. PantoVison and the machine design were a factor in her final decision as which machine to purchase. That and my temper tantrums because standing behind the power tool was just plain silly to me. Simply stated...if tension develops while using the machine in your wrists, forearms, elbow or shoulder joints and you get fatigued quickly while longarming it is improperly adjusted for your height and physical characteristics. I can quilt, and have, for eight hours without any fatigue in my neck, upper torso, arms, wrists or hands. My old knees take a beating. That's what Ibuprofen is for. I think my knees are 20 years older than I am. It may take some time to find the right adjustments that suit your particular needs. But being relaxed, longarming without the worry of stiffness or soreness while doing it is so much more enjoyable. Take the time to find your comfort level. The attached photo depicts some of the characteristics of the ergonomic positions that keep me relaxed when quilting.
Forearms relatively parallel to the floor
Arms are relaxed and hanging freely from the shoulders.
Wrists are relaxed, straight and without tension due to a light fingertip control of the handles.
The upright posture keeps pressure off my lower back and the screen height has been adjusted so as not to create tension in my neck. (I've never done a paper panto but I'm assuming the constant looking down could be a pain in the neck.)
Hopefully you can see the difference between the relaxed operating posture of the one photo (sleeveless) and the one (with sleeves) where I am stooped over, neck tensed up with at death grip on the handles. One is just looking for muscle and joint problems that will lead to being fatigued quickly, not to mention sore. The other is going to make my time at the machine effortless, enjoyable and wondering where the time went.
That's not to say I'm not going to have a tension headache. But that's what the Towa Gauge is for.
The wireless headset...ZZ Top, Led Zeppllin, Queen, Madison Rising, Who, Rush, Dead Can Dance, Cream, it's a long list, mostly dealing with Rock, be it classical, alternative, or 21st Century. Like someone once said...
"Hot funk, cool punk, even if it's old junk
It's still rock and roll to me"

Saturday, February 22, 2014

PantoVision and Innova

This morning as I was going through my email, Yahoo and Google Groups routine I came across several interesting comments on one of the Yahoo Groups I participate in. They were basically discussions about PantoVision, patterns, free motion quilting and artistic talent. In one comment it was mentioned the writer practiced her skills on charity quilts, 'several of her own and QOV's' I made the following observations.

I will admit to enjoying some of the rhetoric about what has become a passion for me. I am not quite what is considered the norm when associated with quilting, quilters and longarms. So from my perspective, a man, a Marine, a Vietnam combat veteran, a retired law enforcement officer, wood worker, a PantoVision Trainer and an Executive Staff Member of the Quilts of Valor Foundation, who has the free hand, free motion and artistic talents of an ostrich; I give you this.
My wife, when longarming is using a 22" Innova with the Standard Stitch Regulator and PantoVision on a 12' Table. I on the other hand am using a power tool connected to a pattern delivery device that is transmitted via a Samsung Computer Tablet operating Windows 7 sitting atop an aluminum erected structure and rail system for X and Y Axis maneuverability. It is because of the pattern delivery system, PantoVision, that I am now referred to as a longarmer. If ABM hadn't brought pantos into the 21st Century I'm listening to Elaine longarm from the Man Cave while I watch golf, rugby and football. And she would probably be doing it on a Gammill. I'm not certain but I think throwing five year old temper tantrums when she was leaning towards Gammill may have influenced her decision to buy the Innova. That and an ABM employee and a new and first dealer in Virginia helped.
As previously stated, I am not an artist. Not in a former life, not now, not ever. My artistic talents involve tracing, copy and paste and asking Elaine to draw it. So PantoVision is the tool I use to transfer the artwork of someone else, in my case two favorites being Jessica Schick and Dave Hudson, to cloth instead of wood. I also have an array of rulers and devices that I attach to the foot that allows me to maintain some resemblance of consistency when quilting circles, straight lines and diagonals if needed. For those I thank Teryl Loy in Utah. But PantoVision is the main system I will use until I can't longarm anymore. I think I have become quite proficient. So here is my take.
Using Panto has absolutely nothing to do with following the line. You follow the pattern. The problems, the frustrations and the dissatisfaction with the results you see on your quilt is directly related to following the line. There is no need to follow the line. Free motion quilters have the ability to relay what they see in their head to the needle and onto the sandwich; there is no line to follow. PantoVision gives me on the screen what I can't see in my head, a pattern to follow. Your trouble begins when you try to 'follow the line. Try it...load any pattern that has straight lines. It is a guarantee you'll get off the line and try to get back on it and the next thing you know you have waving lines or lines that look like lightning bolts. You don't have to stay on the line you just need to follow the pattern and what is relayed to the sandwich will be a nice smooth line of stitching of the pattern. Which is what you're trying to do, what the free motion quilter does. Put a pattern of stitching on the quilt. Trust me on this.
Regarding PanotVision that's all for now...If you've gotten this far I have taken a lot of your time and I apologize. Those that know me know I get a tad bit wordy. Oh but I do have one more thing.
A Quilt of Valor is not now, not ever, never has been nor will they ever be 'charity quilt'. The last thing the men and women that deserve the Award of a Quilt of Valor need is charity. The Quilts of Valor Foundation provides comfort and healing for the service members and veterans who have been touched by war. Please don't forget that.

Go ahead...ask me again. Why I QOV?

Quilt till you wilt...we do...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

All Right...Back Off...

Of course I know it is February. I am well aware the last entry was in January. No, I have absolutely no  idea where the time goes. I am as confused as anyone. I know the 67+ years I've been around I've never wanted Spring more than I do right now. I want Spring a lot more than I want the next electric bill that's for sure. How the folks that live in the Northern half of this country, that which is usually above the jet stream, take this year after year I'll never know.
Here is a little known fact. When we lived in Coffeyville, KS we were hit with a Tornado. My mother told my dad, "Pack it up we are moving." We moved to California. At one point we lived in the town of Banning, a desert area not far from Palm Springs. It snowed...they claimed it was a 100 year storm. My mother told my dad, "Pack it up we are moving." Now we were in Southern California where the earth literally moves. Apparently that didn't bother her. Or she realized there was no where left. Oh,we went to Kansas after leaving Florida...apparently they have hurricanes in the area. And for the record, I was born in D.C.. I can only assume the move to Florida resulted from a snow storm.
Earlier this month we attended the opening of the Quilts of Valor Exhibit, Wartime Quilting: Past to Present. The Opening Ceremony was at the Defense Health Headquarters (DHHQ) in Falls Church, VA. The Exhibit will remain there for three months before being transferred to it's next location. The coordinator for this was handled by one of the QOVF Volunteers out of Maryland. Marianne has set the bar so high that a fire department ladder truck is going to be required for the next person organizing a QOVF Event. I'm serious, the display, logistics, facility, personnel coordination from coast to coast, after ceremony activities, the name it. I mean we are at a military facility and she saw to it that the chocolate candy had a branch of service emblem on them. I'm eating a piece of chocolate, saying Ooh Rah, eating a piece of chocolate, saying Ooh Rah. I'm lucky someone didn't show up with one of those long sleeved white jackets with those accenting leather straps.


Elaine and I, as well as another Quilts of Valor Volunteer and the Executive Director and Director Awarded Quilts of Valor as part of the Opening Ceremony. The Retired Marine Colonel that Elaine Awarded to served during Vietnam and the Marine Staff Sgt. I awarded to had a list of accomplishments from two tours in Afghanistan. 

So we have had a pretty busy January and February. I also taught a class at this years Birds of a Feather held here in Virginia Beach. Another great experience. I think all in attendance had a good time and learned something about PantoVision. I certainly hope so, I would like to be invited back next year. When it will again be held Virginia Beach. I'd like to thank Valerie and the Virginia Longarm Network for their support and confidence. If you longarm and you don't get to Birds of a Feather...what can I say? Check in with for BoF details for 2015 in a couple of months. 

I know so what else have we been doing? Just a little quilting.

Well it's been rainy, cold, snowing. Can't ride the motor, can't golf, might as well longarm. 
And what about Elaine? Well as we all know I don't quilt...but she does. She finished up one of the tops from Quilts of Valor National Sew Day.

She has finished two totes for MQS 2014 Audacious Auction

And she is working on Moon Over Parador...yet to be determined...quilt or wall hanging, also for MQS. Not to mention she has taken over the duties as Virginia State (Commonwealth) Coordinator for QOVF as I have taken on a new roll with QOVF that will evolve around training. We think 2014 is off to a good start and really looking forward to what is ahead...especially Spring.  

Moon Over Parador

Quilt till you wilt...we do...