Monday, November 24, 2014

5 weeks till Christmas!  Mereth and I don't do much at Christmas now, as our children are scattered around Australia and it's difficult to arrange a get-together with in-laws to take into account.  The Christmas rush now is the amount of extra work we have to deal with as Posties; the parcels are arriving thick and fast, and the weeks until Christmas are just a lot of hot and heavy work, culminating in a mountain of stuff to be delivered on Christmas Eve.  That makes our time off even more enjoyable though, and instead of moping because we don't have all the family around, we'll have the luxury of lying about and doing exactly what we please.  I see a couple of jigsaws in the near future, for a start.

My Leader-Ender project is coming along nicely; Mereth donated a pile of 9-patches that she made on spec, so I'm up to 120 of them now.

I'll have to do some calculations to see exactly how many I need, because I'm not making it as big as Bonnie's.  I may very well have enough already.  I had to buy a piece of yellow fabric to use as the setting blocks, I Hated everything in the stash.  I had a half-yard piece of the exact fabric Bonnie used in her quilt, which I loved, but there wasn't enough to do anything with it.  I'm going to make a mini quilt with that fabric, and the big quilt will be a softer buttery yellow.

I had some lovely Asiatic lilies in the garden this year, they put on a stunning display.  I love plants that are so easy to look after, yet have amazing flowers.  I'll be growing more of these next year.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

I love lazy Sundays; on Saturday I'm still tired from the work week, and mostly trying to achieve something significant in my free time.  On Sunday I tend to take it easy, which is the way it should be.  There's still stuff I need to be doing, but I enjoy pottering around and taking things at a slower pace.

There are 15 blocks to do on the Album and then it will be time to get them all put together.  I usually choose fabrics that are too dark, so I've consciously gone a bit lighter, but not light enough.

 I'm such a wimp sometimes, going for the safe fabrics with 'enough' contrast; it's the odd blocks that bring a quilt to life, the ones that don't follow the rules, that break up the ordered, predictable pattern.  In the quilt that inspired this project there were some very pale blocks with little contrast.  I've challenged myself to put something like that in my quilt.  Am I brave enough?  Time will tell.....
Oh dear, this photo from the net is about 14 years old, and it was terrible quality even then.  Still, I'm glad to have it, how else would I have remembered this lovely quilt.  We are so lucky to have the fantastic images we enjoy now. 

You know what this is, don't you.....
I'm making a test block of Jarred Takes A Wife, so that I can start cutting strips and kitting blocks when Bonnie's first mystery clue is released at the end of the week.  I really can't devote a lot of time to a mystery, when there are so many of my own projects I want to do, so I'm quilting along with one of my favourite Bonnie patterns.  I've had the fabrics for this in a box for nearly a year, so it's time I pulled them out and got going with it.  I'll enjoy reading all the mystery clues, but I'll be sewing a quilt of my choosing.


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Friday, November 21, 2014

In  between all the work and gardening stuff there has been sewing.  I'm still working in little sessions here and there, which I never like.  It doesn't feel like I'm achieving much, but there is real progress.  I'm more than halfway through the blocks, and I have a third of them joined together. 

 I thought I'd better find out if I actually had the patience and skill to do all these set-in seams on a grand scale, and surprisingly I like sewing them very much. 

 It's been such fun picking out the fabrics for each block, it only takes two 2"x 18" strips of the feature fabric, so I've been using some precious scraps. 
I think this is my favourite block so far, I just love this fabric.  I don't have very much left, which is sad.
As much as I adore my Singer 538, I have to find a replacement machine. 
I'm  going to work my Beloved into the ground, and she's an old girl to begin with.  I fixed her once, but if something else goes wrong there's no guarantee that it will be repairable.  I've always wanted to sew on my old Bernina 730, so I hunted down a quarter inch foot on Ebay.  I've been waiting impatiently for it to arrive,  and yesterday it showed up, just in time for the weekend.  I set the machine up and made a test block, and the seam allowances were perfect.  I do what Bonnie does, sew some block pieces together and see if they fit a longer piece in the block; if they are exactly the same length, then you know your seams are spot on.

How exciting to have another machine to rely on for piecing! Now I just have to find a way to set her up permanently in the sewing room; there's not much available space.
And I'll have to find a name for her, if I'm going to sew on her every day....

We went to our favourite garden shop for a bit of R&R, and I bought some more seedlings, probably the last of this season.  It's getting too hot to be starting new plants off;

petunias for a couple of display pots, jalapenos because it's too expensive to buy them at the supermarket, more cherry tomatoes.   I'm always quick to complain about the weather when it's bad, so I should also admit that this has been a lovely spring.  Each week there has been one or two horridly hot days, but the rest of the time it's been very pleasant.  The garden has flourished, but unfortunately those hot days have mostly ruined whatever flowers there were.  The roses are covered in buds and blooms, but the flowers are nearly all heat damaged;

the Pierre de Ronsard climber manages to look lovely, even with the damage to the outer petals.  The plants themselves are growing well, so I will just have to wait for the autumn flowers, which are always better.  Gardening is not about instant gratification, no matter what the shows on TV say. 
It's going to be hot today, so I will spend the day in the sewing room.  I always imagined that I would race to the end of 2014 in a flurry of finishes, but it's more likely that I will dawdle there, admiring the scenery and enjoying the details.  I've done a power of sewing this year already, so these last few weeks can just be about the fun, not the numbers on a chart.  While I'm beetling around my sewing room I will have to think of what I want the emphasis to be on next year; 2014 was the year of the UFO, what will 2015 be?  Applique, hexagons, embroidery, hand-piecing or quilting?  I'm going to have a jolly good think about that one.

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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Nothing is jumping out and demanding to be finished, so I pulled out a long-term UFO and I'm working on it here and there.  I blogged about this here and here in December 2012.  I think 2 years in the cupboard is enough incubation time.

It's such a sweet block to put together, there is nothing hard about it;
 it's the setting that is difficult, and I intend to keep adding blocks to the existing section, so that I don't have to do it all at the end.  I'm still committed to finishing it with the set-in alternate blocks, and that is what is piquing my interest.  I have to be very careful with every seam, and that's not my usual way of working.  The slower pace appeals to me just now, so I'm enjoying my slow progress.
I made a mockup in EQ7,so I have some idea of how many blocks I need, and how much of the setting fabric.
I need 50 blocks for this size, so I will be making these for quite a while.  The layout I've done is only 67" wide, which I don't think is enough. If I make it bigger it will need 71 blocks, ouch!   If I get sick of them I'll just put the project aside, because I don't want to ruin my enjoyment of this quilt by forcing myself to work on it.

I just might lose all self-control in a week or two and cut out something new, wouldn't that be Fun?  I'm not going to do Bonnie's mystery this year, but I just may have to make Jared Takes A Wife, I've had the materials set aside for that for months.  It will be a treat to finally cut into them.

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Saturday, November 01, 2014

Finally, the batik quilt is in one piece!

It only took a half hour this morning to get those final borders on, and I'm so relieved to have it done.  It will look beautiful on my green couch, so when this is quilted it will live on the back of the lounge where I can admire the glowing colours.
 What shall I work on next?  There are plenty of UFOs left, and I'm not keen to start something new, so I will probably pick another project box from the shelf and work at that.  Once upon a time that would have bored me rigid, but for some strange reason I'm still excited about the UFO list.  I'm going to have to do a sampler of all the finished tops for this year, there are more than 20.  What an excellent year it has been for clearing up the old projects.

If I can spare the time I'd like to take a photo of every UFO, print them out and make a collage board of them.  It would be very satisfying to have a visual record of how much I've done and what is left.  Plus it might give me some ideas on how to finishe the ancient ones that need borders. I need to stare at them for a while until an idea occurs to me; when they are languishing in the cupboard I'm not even thinking about them.

It was a hectic day yesterday, fitting the screen door.  It would be easy if the doorway was square, but the opening bowed out in the middle like a barrel, so there was a lot packing needed to turn it into a rectangular shape.   It's all done now, except fitting the strike plate, and I'll do that this afternoon.  If Dolly goes charging out and hits the steel mesh at top speed I'm going to be very cross; I'm not sure it's engineered to withstand 20 kilos of excited Staffy.  I may have to attach a bar across it at her eye height, so it will stop here in her tracks. 

It's a glorious morning, so I'm off do some outside work, including getting rid of anything that could harbour snakes; twice I saw a big brown snake in the Princess lillies, so I need to clear away the old stalks and make it less attractive to him.  I'm sensible enough to leave a poisonous snake alone, but Dolly surely isn't, so I'll just have to encourage him to go elsewhere.




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Thursday, October 30, 2014

I still haven't been able to do any sewing; the lack of it is bad for my mental health.  I might get grumpy if I don't get the borders on that quilt soon!

This is the piece of fabric I want to use as borders, damped down and wrapped in a bag ready to iron.  It's been waiting 36 hours for me to get to it, if I don't hurry up it will either be dry or mouldy.

Let's not mention the fabric waiting to be put away, and scraps needing to be sorted.  My room is in upheaval.
I just can't find the time to do it all.

I've been quilting in every available spare moment, a rush order for one of our favourite customers; she needs a quilt as a gift for a friend, and her trip to Sydney won't take place until the quilt is finished.  So I've been working on it, and two small quilts, for the last few days.  We bind her quilts as well, so it's not just a simple quilting job, and I had another binding job to do on a big quilt; I've been in the workroom under a mountain of quilt, and it's a good thing the AC is working well.  It will have a hissy fit when the temperature gets into the 40s, but for now it's doing it's job.

Dolly has been lying in a comfy chair the whole time, keeping an eye on me as I work, and asking to go for walks, but there was no time for that.  Last night I'd had enough, and we went to Port Broughton for some R&R.  It was a lovely evening, with the tide in, and both dogs got wet and had a wonderful time.

We were content to walk along the beach and enjoy the peace and tangy salt-sea air.  It was just what I needed to wind down after a work day.

Today I need to finish the bindings on the small quilts, pick up Pippi so I can have her while Mereth  goes to Adelaide for a grandson's 4th birthday (4 already!!), get everything assembled for DB so he can finish the screen door installation, then go round his place for tea.  He'll be here early to get to work, so I'd better get a good night's sleep.  That's my day mapped out.

Is anybody else sick of being told  "Sitting is the new smoking"?  What is that supposed to mean?  Am I supposed to feel guilty because I sit down to sew or work on the computer; and, if it cuts years off your life, how come the average life-span is increasing?  Scientists need to find something else to obsess about.  Also, I'm told I MUST sleep at least 7 hours a night, or my brain will react like a drunk teenager and I'll die sooner;  great, now I have to sleep a third of my life, and the other two thirds I have to stand up.  Excuse me if I'm not charmed by that thought.  (Oooooh, I am grumpy today....)

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

My Sunday was hijacked; first by my brother doing some work on my doorway, so a new screen door can be installed, and then by a monster garage sale.  The garage sale was more fun; when my DB comes round it's like stirring up an ant nest with a stick.  A peaceful morning degenerates into chaos, as bits are ripped off the door stiles, paint scraped off bricks and there are multiple requests from the worker like 'Have you got any steel wool?  What about mortar?  Is that all?  How old is it?  Where's the hose?  I need a clean bucket!' And I just scurry around trying to keep up with all the demands.  The plus side is that things get done quickly, and properly, and he accepts payment in scones.  It's just that I'm exhausted after an hour or two, and he bustles off home to really get stuck into some work. 
The garage sale was excellent, at a place we have always eyed off with longing.  He had sheds full of everything imaginable, the sheer amount was mind-boggling; this is the second time his family have sorted out the sheds and had a sale.  By the time we arrived, at midday, all the really good stuff was gone, but we managed to get 4 trailer loads of stuff anyway.  We grabbed huge piles of things that we knew we could use in the garden; trellis and gates and wood and old wheelbarrows, loads of miscellaneous metal and PVC pipe, metal planters and drums, great old tools that were really good quality, rolls of wire fencing, bedsteads and boxes.  I even got a crowbar, which I've wanted for ages, for $1!!  I'm so easily pleased.  It's not too big, but very sturdy; is there such a thing as a Lady's Crowbar?  If so, I've got one.

 Some people see junk, we see possibilities.
 At the end of the day the guys were loading all sorts into our trailer, and when we protested they said "It's all free now, you can have it anyway" so it was even more of a bargain.  Even though I was filthy dirty after digging through all that rubbish I much prefer that sort of a sale; it was so interesting to see what he had.  I bet that for years when his family wanted something repaired he could say "I've got just what you need in the shed".
When I finally got home and had all the chores done I did manage a bit more sewing, and the hexagons are in one piece, with the first border attached.  Pictures to come later, once the camera battery is charged.  I think I could have this top finished today, so long as nothing unexpected hijacks my day again...

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