Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Hello 2019, you sprang up on us  out of nowhere.  I didn't even have time to think about the end of the old year, I was too busy with little people and family, travel and adventures, wild weather and storms.  I'm hoping for some quiet time to get my house in order, literally.

I spent Christmas Day with the family in Pirie, which was crowded and fun, with a traditional hot midday meal.  That's not what our side of the family does for Christmas, but Liz and her 2 sisters were hankering for their childhood traditions, so we had roast pork, roast turkey, roast ham, with all the trimmings, plus plum pudding.  It was very nice, but such a lot of work on a really hot day, catering for 8 adults and 5 children.  We all agreed that if we won Lotto we'd have a white Christmas in Canada with the biggest roast dinner ever! And kitchen staff to do all the work....

I drove down to Shonny's place on Boxing Day, which is actually a really nice day to travel, as everyone else is sitting at home with a food hangover instead of being on the roads. Shonny and Co, spent Christmas at Hayden's family home, and arrived home after I did, and then we had another round of presents and play and a meal of all our favourite things.  Hayden's Christmas Thing is a huge plate full of leg ham, with 2 or 3 sliced tomatoes.  Nothing else, no salad or bread or condiments.  He had to text a picture of his plate to his grandfather, who demanded that each Christmas and started the tradition for Hayden. Family history is all so different.

The next two days were very idle, just playing with the kids and making sure no-one in the house was hungry for even a moment.  And then we were off on an adventure, back to Pirie with the camper trailer for four days, ready to see in the New Year.

It amazes me that such spacious living quarters are contained within this trailer, and that it only takes two hours to transform it. 

The kitchen is at the front, two bedrooms behind that.

Shonny and Hayden worked as a team putting it up, and I played with Isla and Thomas and kept them safely out of the way. As soon as it was all done the kettle went on for coffee, it was all very civilised.
The kitchen area is amazing, the sink and stove swing out from the trailer, and it's ready to go. 

We stayed at a caravan park on the beach front, at a powered site; we had fans and lights, and a camping fridge, so we weren't roughing it entirely, but I think I'm too old to do without some comforts.  The fans were essential, as the temperature was in the high 30's every day and the tent got extremely hot without any airflow.

The first night a huge storm broke overhead, the loudest thunder I've ever heard, louder even than a tropical storm. The lightning was constant, the whole park lit up with pale purple and gold light and the sky an electrical firestorm.  Very beautiful, but frightening for the kids, and rain was pelting down.  The storm trundled off over the hills eventually, grumbling like a bad-tempered herd of cattle, and we finally got to sleep.

We spent the next two days relaxing, taking the kids to the pool and the beach. It's lovely to have no plans, no agenda, no place that you have to be by a certain time. The only plan was to watch the New Year's Eve fireworks on the beach with Mereth's family, and that's what we did.

It was sooo noisy, but Isla loved it.  Thomas slept through everything, didn't hear a thing.

It was a lovely holiday break, lots of family time and the kids enjoyed all the adventures.

New Year's Day saw us packing up the camper early, and they set off for home while I was off back to my home.  The temperature soared into the realms of the ridiculous, 44°C is too hot in anyone's language; 111°F is insane. It's finally cooled down, so I might be able to get into the sewing room and get something achieved, after a lengthy break. It's time to take stock of 2018, and have a think about where 2019 is likely to take us.  More quilts, more fabric, more family, more fun.  Onward!!


Thursday, December 20, 2018

On my last visit to see the family Thomas generously shared his cold with me.  I've been laid low for the last 10 days, surrounded by tissues and cough medicine, while the temperature outside reached silly heights of 100 degrees.  I object to having a cold when it's so hot, and summer colds often seem more severe.  I'm through the self-pitying stage, now I'm into the frustrated stage where I just want this to be over with so I can get stuff done at last.

I did tackle one UFO.  My Economy blocks were started in December 2016, and assembled a month later, and they've sat waiting for borders ever since then.  I knew I wanted Flying Geese borders, and I worked on them for a year or so in between other things.

And then it all just sat there waiting.

It took several days to try out various options, ponder which one I like the best, and then actually sew it all together.
I was stuck dithering between two choices of the width of the inner border, swapping things around on the design wall, taking photos and comparing them, agonizing over which one worked best.  Then I realized I was having such a hard time choosing because there was no 'best' option.  Both looked good, and I could choose either one.
Once I came to that conclusion I just picked the one that had appealed to me all along, and had the top finished the next day.  I make life so difficult for myself sometimes.
 It's such a wonderful feeling to finish a long term project, though it was a bit of a surprise to go back through the blog and realize how long it had been languishing. I thought the project was a year old, not TWO years.  But it's finally done, and I can move onto another one of those UFOs that have been waiting patiently.


Friday, November 30, 2018

Another catch-up post is in order. I'm just back from 2 weeks in Brisbane, visiting family. Three visits in one year! My MIL's twin sister died, just before their 89th birthday, and we thought seeing Thomas and Isla would cheer Mum up. It was a hectic time, organising get-togethers and navigating city traffic, but it was well worth it. 

Isla really enjoyed being with the Brisbane and New Zealand family members again, and Thomas was much admired.

We stayed with DS Rhys, in an inner city suburb; his apartment is very secure, with fobs and clickers to operate doors and lifts and the garage.  I managed to deal with all that without losing anything or locking myself out of anything, but it made me long for my uncomplicated life back here.

His apartment is all modern and sleek, which makes a quilt even important, something to soften the edges and provide a bit of home comfort and love. 
I quilted a top for him, and brought it with me, as I thought it was safer than posting it.  He has a quilt I made him when he was 15, and he's loved it to pieces.
The binding is fraying; only the top layer of the double-fold binding, but it still needs to be replaced.
The fabrics are very faded and worn, I'll have to go over it and repair any weak spots.
There are actual holes in the backing, I don't think I even want to know what caused these.....
But I'm so pleased that this quilt has kept my son warm and comforted through the last 15 years, and that whenever he wraps himself up in it, he's reminded that I love him.
I told him that the more he uses the new quilt, the softer and more familiar it will become, and in a little while he'll have his old friend back,  rejuvenated for another 15 or so years.
I call that a quilting success story.


Thursday, November 08, 2018

I think my favourite colour combination is blue and green.  I have made so many quilt tops from those colours that I've put a huge dent in my stash.

Picture is way too yellow, this is very blue in real life.
Batik quilt.
Scrappy Bargello 
Many Trips Around The World
My blues are looking pretty sad and inadequate these days.  However, there are several containers full of scraps from those other quilts, and I keep trying to use them up.  All that happens is that I have more quilt tops and  the scraps are still there. The recently finished Checkered Lattice gave me another pile of blue-green leftovers, and I decided to use them up in some easy patterns.  
So I cut heaps of 2.5 x 4.5" rectangles from the scrap baskets and set to work

First I made a small top of Spinning Rectangles. 
I tried to do it scrappy, but I didn't like that, so I planned it so that each pinwheel was the same fabric.  It was slower, but I was much happier with the result.
There were many rectangles left over, so I started sewing them together randomly, and made a cot sized top in stair steps..
This was much easier to put together, no worrying about what went where. .  Then I made the mistake of tipping the stair steps on point to make chevrons.

Bad idea.   I really like it like this.  A full size quilt would look wonderful, especially with lots of batiks.  I managed to resist the urge to abandon the cot quilt and jump straight into the chevron quilt.
But there are still so many pieces to use up.  These are the scraps that never end, but maybe that 's not a bad thing..  I could play with these colours forever.  In fact, I'll probably buy more on my next shopping trip. I rather think I'm going to have to admit defeat.  These colours are here to stay.


Monday, November 05, 2018

Yet again, my sewing space is in shambles.  I was totally distracted from my projects by the need to sew something for the shop, and a commission quilt. Of course I didn't clean up first, so now there is an extra layer of fabric and scraps and project parts on top of all the other stuff.  And I will get in and clean it up today, but very carefully, because there is a spider on the loose in there somewhere , and I am the world's biggest coward when it comes to spiders.  If I see the horrible thing again I'll be out of the room in seconds.

Last weekend we went down to Adelaide again, this time for the 21st birthday of our youngest niece.  Anna.

 She's grown into an amazing person, studying to be a ranger in National Parks.  She has an internship this summer, near Roxby Downs in The north of our state, where she'll be trapping native animals and recording numbers.  It's lovely to see her following her passions.
Whenever I see my brother Greg I remember 1977, when he had a motorbike accident on a  remote property and nearly died from a punctured lung.  He was in a coma on life support for 6 weeks, with doctors continually telling us that he wouldn't pull through.  But he did, and 20 years to the day after that accident, Anna was born. It could all have been so different, and instead we have Susie and the girls added to our family. I thank God every time we see them.

Isla was the life of the party yet again, chatting to everyone and eating whatever party food she could filch off the table.  At one point I caught her drinking a glass of Pepsi, which she's definitely not allowed to touch.  I don't want to see Isla on caffeine. She had a big conversation with Anna's Italian grandmother, Nonna.  Nonna's English is not good, and Isla was so excited she was babbling and we couldn't understand her either.  Nonna watched Isla tell a particularly intense story, with lots of hand waving for emphasis, and then said carefully 'You speaking Italian, and I speaking English!' They were so cute together.

It was also cute to see two 19 year old guys with Thomas, one holding him carefully, and the other armed with a paper napkin, dabbing off the drool with surgical precision.  Thomas was laughing and drooling in equal proportions, but the boys weren't fazed.  I just love watching all the layers and generations of family, enjoying each other and building up memories.

It was just a quick trip, we were back the next day, and now I have to tackle that sewing room. 
There are quilt finishes about to happen, if I can just get to the ironing board and the sewing machine.


Thursday, November 01, 2018

October is always a busy month in our family, so many birthdays, anniversaries and events added into the usual business.  Mereth and I decided that we were taking four days out of the calendar, and running away for our birthdays.  We went on a little road trip, just pootling our way down to Adelaide on the first day, spending two days doing fun things, then home on the fourth day. It was a fun way to spend our last days being 50 something.  From now on, we're sixty something!!

We went to Burra first, which is a tourist spot about an hour away, where we visited several antique shops, and had coffee in  a secondhand bookshop.  We were all set to leave until I spied a little room with art books, and then we stayed another hour.  Just love all the inspiration in these pages.

We had a little picnic lunch after that, then drove to Angaston, where we bought some fabric at the sewing centre there.
 That was a nice interlude, rummaging through bolts of fabric to find what we liked.  I'm glad I lost track of what I bought this year, because I wouldn't want to be adding the totals from this weekend.

Then it was on to Seonaid's place, where we were welcomed by these two.
Isla adores Mereth, I'm just background noise when she's around.  I guess she doesn't see Mereth as much, whereas I'm always showing up.  All our grandchildren call whoever isn't their real grandmother OtherNanna, which gets confusing when we're all together, so we're trying to educate them to call Mereth Nanna, and me Nan.  The difficulties of having twin grandmothers...

The next day we were off to Hahndorf, to visit the home of Hans Heyson.  He was a South Australian artist, and we've loved his work since we were teenagers, so it was a bit of a pilgrimage, and a nice way to reconnect with our younger selves.  When you're younger there's much more time to be passionate about things, and in later years that time gets taken over by everything else in life.
So it was good to stand in his studio, and remember.
He painted a picture of his wife sewing at a treadle machine, and Mereth and I bought postcards to put in our sewing rooms.  She was sewing baby clothes for their 5th child (there were 8 altogether).
It's such a tranquil image, a lovely intimate moment.
That took longer than expected, so we skipped lunch and went to the next important location; Tricia's Fabrics.  Oh we love that place, so much fabric, and the prices are pretty good too.  I was buying for projects, so I didn't go too overboard, but it was still a decent amount.
Mereth is such an enabler, I was buying half a metre of one piece, and she talked me into taking what was left on the bolt.  I'm glad now, but it made a hole in the Budget!

We grabbed a coffee from Macca's and then it was home for a birthday dinner at Seonaid's.
 She cooked 4 curries and all the accompaniments, and we had a right royal feast.
I don't know how she did it all while wrangling a toddler and a baby,  she has much better management skills than me.  None of us can plate up a meal attractively though....

The next day was local shopping, and a visit to Spotlight, where I resisted Mereth's urgings to buy a whole bolt of a lovely floral.  Absolutely not.  I added some black and whites to my stash and lots of FQs, but I was sensible.
The next day we went home, via Spotlight to buy the bolt I rejected the day before; once I looked at the docket and saw how cheap it was, I realized my mistake.
There will be a couple of backings in this piece, and it's always good to have backings on hand. Then onto Bunnings, for the obligatory Bunnings sausage for lunch, and I purchased some plug-in LED lights for my sewing room.  When I move from here, I hope my new sewing room has windows and good lighting, I"m sick of working in artificial light all the time.

And so to home, and while we enjoyed running away, it was lovely to be home again.  My sewing space is still my favourite place to be.

Turns out, being 60 isn't that different to being 59, who would have guessed?


Monday, October 22, 2018

My design wall is rarely empty; once a finished top has been photographed it's folded and packed away with the others (80 at the last count) and then a new project goes up.  Sometimes, in between projects, I'll use the empty wall to display some orphans or blocks that have me stumped, to see if any ideas occur to me.  If I won't be able to sew for a while those problem blocks will sit there as a background; I can see them as I work on the computer, and my subconscious will try to find a solution to my design problems.   All in all, that expanse of white wall just has me itching to fill it up again.
I wasn't ready to tackle the Economy borders, so I put the pretty tumblers back up.  It took about an hour to add the extra 2 rows of tumblers, and then I lived with it a while to see if I was happy.  I was, so the borders were cut and added. 

Another quilt that is too big for my design wall.

 Mereth looked at the inner border and said, "You have to change that, it doesn't go at all,"  but I like it.  And I pulled out every conceivable fabric trying to choose that border, and this is what I liked. I'm fond of saying "Done now" about choices that I've made.  Not unpicking, not choosing anything else, it's done now and I'm moving on.
The backing is going to be a king-sized Laura Ashley doona cover that I found in the op-shop for $2.  It's the most luxurious sateen, the perfect shade of duck egg blue, and I will have 8 metres of gold cord when I finish unpicking.  Got to love a $2 backing for a quilt this size.

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