Thursday, September 18, 2014

It's Friday again, and the week just flew by.  I've been really busy with computer work, quilting customer quilts and the of course the postie job.  There aren't enough hours in the day for everything that has to be done.  At least I never have to say "I'm bored, there's nothing to do...."

The customer quilts are really pretty, but they are for a local show so I won't show pictures of them yet.  The computer work is so close to being finished, which is good; the postie run is done and dusted till next Monday, so I plan to get some sewing done this weekend.

My little bits of sewing time before I went to work have paid off in a finished top at last.  My Workaday quilt is in one piece, and looking nicer than I thought it would. 

It's been on the design wall for weeks, and to begin with I shuddered at how ugly some of the fabrics are, and thought I could never get them to live together in harmony.  Then as I worked on it I started feeling affection for it's ugliness, and remembering the quilts the fabrics came from.  Later again I looked at the blocks and remembered all the stuff that has happened since I first started making them, and finally I realised that I loved how precisely I'd pieced together these random, ugly things that weren't of my own choosing.  I could have thrown it together and called it done, but what would the point of that be?  The real value of this quilt is the care I took with it, determined to do the best I could with what had been given to me; and that is a recipe for life as well.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

We had a bit of a scare with the dogs last weekend.  They both went off their food, and that was a worry. There's nothing sadder than a Staffy who doesn't want to eat.  Dolly is fussy, but she always shows up for dinner, or the crackle of a packet.  Pippi's motto is "Eat it quick, decide if it was nice afterwards".  Instead of barging about in the centre of everything they were hiding in corners and staying in bed; not the way they normally behave.

They went to the vet on Monday, and he said it was either a mild case of Parvo, or a really bad E.Coli infection.  They got cortisol and antibiotic injections, and tablets to take for the next 5 days; Dolly was much worse than Pippi, so she got a bottle of white stuff that would help settle her insides.  The first time I gave it to her, her eyes went completely round with shock, and she coughed it back all over me; it was such a strong peppermint flavour, she'd never tasted anything like it! 

I'm glad I completely trust her, especially when I'm putting antibiotic tablets down the back of her throat and all those teeth are around my hand.  She quickly realised that after the tablet she got a treat; when I picked up the bottle she came running to sit between my feet, then danced around in circles after it went down the hatch.  She's a funny little thing, and it's so good to see her back in high spirits.


Friday, September 12, 2014

It's been a busy week, and there hasn't been a lot of time in the sewing room.  In fact, nearly everything was accomplished in the hour before I go to work, between 6 and 7am.  I usually hate working in such short timespans, but just lately I'm grateful for any amount of sewing time.

I have three UFOs on the go, and there has been a little progress on each.  I have the Vintage Rosettes in three pieces, and they were all ironed ready to be joined together.

 Normally hexagons go together beautifully, all the seams fanning perfectly; even the little diamonds aren't a problem.  It's that pesky triangle that is the problem, there's no way to make those seam allowances fan nicely, so they had to be mashed flat.  Oh well, there are two more seams to sew with them, two more seams to iron, and then it will just be a case of adding a border to make the edges straight.  The end is in sight at last.

The baskets are just not enthralling me at the moment, so there's not much to show; I've added the spacer borders, so that the triangle border is easy to attach, but I'm just not very enthusiastic about finishing it.  Maybe this weekend will see me buckle down and get it done.  I have loads of computer work to finalise, maybe I can use the sewing as a bribe when I need a break.

The other UFO is an ugly one; I made a whole heap of Broken Dishes and Pinwheel blocks years ago, out of the triangles cut from binding strips. 
We have done heaps of bindings on customer quilts, it's just mind-boggling to think how many we've done over the years.  There are 36 blocks, each containing the triangles from 2 quilts, so that's 72 bindings represented in these blocks.  More actually, as sometimes there weren't enough triangles in one fabric, and I added bits from other quilts.  I got sick of making the blocks years ago, so Mereth now takes the triangles and they go into her scrap drawers.  There are two checkerboards made from backing scraps in the top row, but then I found  more blocks and didn't need them.  They'll go on the back with everything else that's left over.

I was so tempted to bin these blocks, pretty ugly colours, and definitely not my fabric choices; but they represent years of work and so many memories, and remind me of the customers and their quilts.  I decided that a quilt made of significant blocks was better than a pretty quilt, and now I'm really enjoying putting them together.  I'm using scraps of backing fabrics to sash and border them, and it's looking far better than it should.  This one is making me happy as I work on it.

It's been christened the Workaday Quilt, because all the pieces represent our working days, quilting, binding and sewing. 

And when it comes time to bind this quilt I've got that covered too.


Wednesday, September 03, 2014

I finished another UFO last week;  I really love this pattern, but I didn't like the materials that I used in these blocks.  I was cleaning out my scrap drawers and used any old thing that came to hand, and I don't like the result at all. 

I was on the point of pitching them into the Orphan Box, but then decided I could deal with them once and for all by making a large table runner.  It's about 28 x 34, and I'll quilt it simply and then it can go to work protecting my furniture from scratches.

I still want a full-size quilt in this pattern, so sometime soon I will kit up a whole heap of blocks, but they will be made of my best fabric, not the dregs of the scrap bin.  And I get to cross another UFO off the list; 19 finished to the Top stage this year, and I'm not sick of them yet.

I'm working on some old leftover Stack & Whack blocks now, just squares;

 I only had 4 repeats of the fabric, so I had to make do with that.  It's not my usual style, but in the'90s I was teaching workshops a lot of the time and this was the sort of thing I made.
 The colours are sweet, and I still like the big floral print; it makes a change from the reproduction palette I usually work from.

I've been leap-frogging between four UFO projects and I'm tired of it.  Tonight I need to get serious and actually finish one of them.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

These triangle borders are slowing me down, I just can't get motivated to tackle the measuring and attaching of them.  I cut and sewed them with no trouble, but I can't get enthused about the calculating and fudging the next step will involve.

 They measure 2" on the long side, which needed to be on the straight grain of the fabric.  I cut 3.25" squares, then cut them twice diagonally to give the right size triangles.  I added an extra step to make aligning them easy.

Before I moved the triangles I aligned the 2" line of the ruler to the diagonal cuts and trimmed off the dogears in situ.
I did that on all four sides, and that gave me really accurate results when I pieced the triangles together.  A rotating cutting mat would make this super easy, but I was too lazy to find mine so I just moved around to get in the best position to make those cuts.
Getting rid of the dog ears made it so easy to line up the triangles, so that there would be a nice straight edge when they were sewn together. 
Trimming them all at once was so much easier than working on each stack of traingles after they'd been moved.
 Next time I need to make this sort of border I will be able to refer back to this post, which is a good thing.  I just know that in a few months time I'll forget what I did.  I just hope I don't forget that I wrote this post :(


Friday, August 22, 2014

At least I have some progress to show, after two weeks of blog silence.  I've added all the blue diamonds to the rows of vintage hexagons, and now I'm joining the rows together.  The top two rows are together, and the bottom two rows; I'll make two large pieces, then add all the blue diamonds around the outer edges before I join them into one piece.

I'm starting to get very enthusiastic about this project; it's nowhere near completion, but at least it's closer to a finish than when it was just a pile of blocks.  Later today  I'll go through all my white fabric to find a match for more of the white hexagons, and then I need to design a border.  Of course the border will be a whole lot of work on it's own, but at least it will be the final step.  I don't think I'll ever do these fiddly diamonds again!

There's been lots of life going on, visits to family, working in the garden, the local show. The Farmer's Wife quilt that we quilted won First Prize in the quilting, and the Trophy award, so we were pleased for it's owner; she was thrilled with her win.

 I was going to say something about the frosty weather, and how we still have two weeks of winter left this year, and already I'm mourning its passing.  But Spring has arrived, the last two days have been uncomfortably warm, and I'm going to have to discard my woolen thermals. It's been lovely to have such crisp, clear, cold weather; I suppose if it was miserable and wet I might be a bit sick of it, like most of the people I talk to.  They all want summer to come back, and here I am clinging to the cold.  Oh well, everyone gets their favourite weather in turn through the year.

While I've been working on Work things, there has been no sewing time, so today I would love to sit at the machine for several hours.  I did manage to cut up a lot of red and shirting scraps, to make my nine-patches.  As usual, I'm fighting the urge to sew them all up at once, but I must remain firm about them staying as leader-enders. I did manage to make a few, but there's a little problem with two of them;

I'll unpick them and make them right, and next time I'd better pay attention to what I'm doing.

 I need to make a lot of triangles for the border of my baskets, and then I can get that finished.  I've made the two long borders, now I just need to do the top and bottom ones.  I'll have to do a lot of fudging with this, seeing I messed up the setting triangles.  None of the sides are the correct measurement, alas.  I seem to like making work for myself.

The possibilities of a new UFO are very exciting; I'm still loving the old projects. What an odd year this has been on the patchwork front; so many ancient things dealt with, such self-restraint about new projects, such dedication.  It will be funny if I snap and start four or five new things all of a sudden.

One thing I've been doing with my time is rearranging my kitchen, to make space for a gas stove that my DB and SIL gifted to me.  It's pretty big, and I had to shift everything to make room for it, so the kitchen is in chaos.  That's a good thing in a way, because I've had to consider every item, and where it should go; my goal of reducing everything by 30% has not been forgotten, and I've ditched a lot of stuff from the pantry that was out of date, and donated multiples of cooking items to the op-shop.  There's still a fair way to go, but the job is underway, and that's the main thing.

Ah well, there's Spring flowers to look forward to, and butterflies and singing birds, and two weeks of my favourite season left.  Time to switch the machine on, and get some fabric going through, while I watch the archive of the latest Quilt Cam with Bonnie.  Onward!


Thursday, August 07, 2014

I've sewn the basket blocks together, but discovered a major mistake when I started adding the setting triangles.  They were too small, or rather some of them were too small.  They should have been cut from a 11.5" square, cut twice diagonally; who knows what measurement I cut, but it wasn't enough.  I wasn't going to tear my hair out or weep bitter salty tears, so I just shrugged and sewed it all together.  My quilt,my rules.

 This was never going to be a competition quilt, and I'll like it just as much with the points of the blocks chopped off at the edge.  Mereth is having more of a problem with it than me, but there's not enough fabric to recut the triangles, and there's that I-don't-care-a-bit thing too.  My motto is Aim For Perfect, Accept What You Get.

Of course I made another mistake too, because I mislaid the photo of the antique quilt and put my blocks together the way I thought they should go.  When I found the photo (about an hour after I completed the top) I realised that there are half-baskets all around the edges, not plain fabric triangles.  Sigh.  I'm not pulling anything apart, so it will stay the way it is.  I just adore this block and it was so much fun to put together, I can see me making another quilt in this pattern some day soon.

I am going to put a tiny border of triangles around the edge, but I think I planned to do that anyway.

Why didn't I write out a plan of attack and store it with the kitted pieces?  I must try to do better next time.

I'm getting close to having 20 UFOs crossed off the list, so I want to get busy on another couple of them.  I have trouble using one for leader-enders, as I get rather confused, so I succumbed to another project.  A while back Bonnie posted pictures of a red and yellow nine-patch,  from her Leaders & Enders book.  I've always loved that quilt;  I had the book and the fabrics, nine-patches are the perfect leader-ender, it's a huge quilt so I wouldn't have to think about other leader-enders for ages.  I can talk myself into anything.

I'm glad to be working with such strong colours, glad to be using up all that yellow that I accumulated, and glad that I've weeded all the shirtings and reds out of my scrap drawers.  And it will be fun to piece a scrap backing for this once it's finished.

We are having bitterly cold nights and early mornings, I have to chip the ice off my car every morning;

it makes such pretty patterns, I would love fabric like this.
Then it heats up so that the afternoons are almost too warm.  It feels like spring already, so I have to get busy in the garden.  I dug up a nice crop of yacon last month, and have 2 buckets full of the crowns ready to plant again, so I need a whole bed just for them.  It's taken two years for them to produce a decent crop, so I want to make sure that I always have enough plants to have a steady supply. They are so sweet, like a super crunchy carrot, and they're supposed to have a lot of health benefits.  If I don't grow them myself I'll never have them, as they are not in shops anywhere here.

 I also need to plant out hibiscus and crysanthemum, gerberas and geraniums, daisies and gazanias.  There are climbing roses and jasmines that need trellises, and the existing wicking beds readied for spring plantings.  Part of me is cross that we're missing out on a proper winter, and part of me is glad that is perfect gardening weather already.  I can't change it, so I might as well celebrate it.

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