Saturday, February 21, 2015

 My red and shirting nine-patches have built up at an alarming rate.  I started them in August last year, so I could make the Sisters Ninepatch from Bonnie's Adventures With Leaders & Enders book.

There are 120 in the pile, and more over by the sewing machine.  I still have a big container of squares ready to piece, so I will have enough to make the 169 blocks in Bonnie's quilt, and then some.  I cut a heap of blue squares so that I can be making blue and shirting blocks as well.  These are such a good leader-ender, I don't want to stop making them.
I'm still going through all my scrap containers, trying to sort out what needs to be kept and what can be re-purposed.  I have dozens of bins and baskets full of leftovers, and it's time to deal with them.
I'm making progress; these are all empty containers that can go in the cupboard till I need them again.  The problem is they take up nearly as much room empty as they did when they were full. 


Friday, February 20, 2015

Last week we ran away for the afternoon, with our farmer friend Helen.  She and hubby have a property about 20k away, in the Beetaloo Valley; she had to go and check the sheep troughs, and we went along to keep her company.  It was a hot day, but we were in the air-conditioned 4WD, and there was plenty of time to catch up on news and gossip and laughter.  Helen works such long hours that it's hard to spend time with her, so it was the perfect solution.

On the Beetaloo property there is a little settler's cottage, solidly built of stone and still in good condition.  The drive in is so rough, it must have been terrible in a horse and cart, because it was bad enough in the 4WD.
First things first; we went straight past the cottage, and up the hills behind to check on the Merino sheep agisted here over the summer.
 They have an amazing view up here, but they don't care about that; they are up here because there are a lot of tall shade trees over to the left, and they spend the hottest part of the day here.
There are several permanent springs here, and water troughs to supplement them, and we drove to them all, checking that the water was clean and the troughs filling correctly.  Dusty gave each one his seal of approval.
I've never been a fan of off-road driving; it's not so bad going up and down the hills, but I hate driving across the face of a slope with the car at crazy angle.  Not my cup of tea, but the scenery took my mind off that.
Part of the property was burnt during the bushfires last year, it must have been terrifying to watch the flames coming over the hills. That little spot of white to the right is the neighbour's house; not a good place to be when the fire came through.
The CFS stopped the fire here, so the damage could have been much worse.
There are many dead trees, but a few are shooting again.  It will be a long while till this hillside is covered with scrub and trees again.
 The grasstrees, or yuccas, love fire, some hillsides are just covered with them now; glad something came of the destruction.
Then it was back to the cottage, and the little almond orchard beside it.

 What must it have been like to be the woman of this house, and know that that this was the only haven for miles around.  People were tough back then, they had to be.
 I'm sure this was someone's pride and joy once, and they loved being able to walk beneath the shady trees and harvest a useful crop.  It's devastated now, but the ruined trees are still bearing.  We picked a small bag of almonds from one tree, but the others weren't quite ready, so we've planned a picnic in March to get the rest.  It's amazing that they've survived at all, but the nearby spring must have something to do with that.
 The cottage is an L-shape, and a lean-to was built to turn it into a square shape.  These doorways were outside doors once, that decorative brickwork was only used on exterior doorways.
The interior of the cottage is gloomy and dirty; the stonework is in great condition, but the floors are eaten out by termites, and the windows are filthy and birds have been nesting in some rooms.
The stove in the kitchen is complete, except for the flue; somebody cooked meals for their family here, and was proud of the cupboards either side, and the faux-marble paintwork on the mantle.
It would have been a hard place to live, but beautiful in winter when the hills are covered in green grass, and that spring nearby would have been literally a life-saver.  Our early settlers were amazing people.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

I finished a long term UFO a while ago, and forgot to blog about it.  I started this more than 10 years ago, and finished the blocks in 2006.  I was stumped when it came to the border, and it's been in the Too Hard pile ever since.

 I got out the top  last year and hung it over a corner of the design wall, and waited for inspiration to strike.  There were a couple of ideas that I tried, but nothing seemed right.  Finally I realised that I didn't want a fussy, clever border; it just needed something to frame the blocks. 
This pale floral was perfect, and it only took a couple of hours to cut the borders and attach them. 
These blocks were strip-pieced with some of my most precious, tiny scraps, even bits that only finished at 1/4" wide. 
I tried to get a colourwash effect in the pieced strips, going from light to dark.
I really had a lot of fun making these, and I'm so glad that now I can start planning the quilting.  I hope to have this quilt hanging on a wall so that I can admire it every day.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Lots of work has kept me away from the computer, hence the lack of posts.  After nearly 10 years of blogging I still haven't perfected the short, pop-in update.  Maybe in another 10 years I'll get the hang of it.

I've been trying to tidy up, as well as cut kits for the multiple projects I've started.  They all seem to involve cadet blue and light reds or wine-red fabrics.  It seems silly to cut what I need for one project, pack it all away, then pull it out again for the other projects, so I've been trying to kit all of them at once.  My head is in a whirl and there are bits of fabric everywhere, but  I think I'm making progress.

I designed this strip-pieced quilt and started cutting for in 2009; it's been sitting in a project drawer ever since, along with the pile of fabric I set aside for it. 

I made the decision to get busy and finish it, and finally it's done.  It took up every spare minute for two weeks, in between my other work.  It was a lot of sewing, but I enjoyed every minute.  I love the fact that I just had to make the strip-pieced sets, and subcut them to arrive at the pieces for the blocks.  It reminds me of a woven coverlet, so I'm calling it Coverlet; it's a lovely fresh colour scheme, nice and summery, I seem to be obsessed with red, white and blue lately.

Third top for 2015, and second UFO finish.

As for what's on my cutting table, there are still lots of red,white and blue fabrics.
I'm cutting 2"strips for the cheddar and blue blocks;
 2.5" strips for these 4-patch 9-patch blocks;
 1.5" and 3" strips for these Cracker blocks, also a longterm UFO.
I'm using up some fabrics entirely, which would make me panic if I didn't know that there is a wealth of red and blue fabrics out there to replace them.  I will have an excuse to buy some of this, and my stash will be rejuvenated, instead of depleted.  Oh Goody!!


Sunday, February 08, 2015

Our Summer showed up at last, it was horribly hot yesterday and I just didn't feel like doing anything.  I've been cutting and sewing like a maniac, on three separate projects, and it all ground to a halt. I was hot and cranky and I didn't want to sew at all.  That is so unusual for me, but maybe it had something to do with the two hours I spent outside, watering plants, shifting hoses, moving pots into the shade.  I was overheated, practically had steam coming out of my ears, and the sewing room just looked like a disaster area to me.  I did the only sensible thing and started a jigsaw.

At times during the afternoon I stopped and packed away some of the bits and pieces littering my tables, but I only worked at that until I started feeling cranky again.  By the end of the day I'd cleared all the projects away into boxes, returned the fabric to drawers or containers, and my jigsaw was nearly finished.  I'd say it was a successful day after all.

One project was a nine-patch made out of charm squares.  I pulled apart 5 charm packs and paired each dark fabric with a light. 
It was amazing how all those different collections just went together like they were made for each other; some of them were years apart, yet they still coordinated beautifully. I do have a bit of Cutter's Remorse; my charm collection is mostly gone, and they did bring me a lot of happiness sitting in their little drawer.  They promised so many possibilities, and now they are nine-patches, end of subject. 
However, I will allow myself to buy more in future, because I've proved to myself that I can use them, not just hoard them.

I packed away my cheddar and blue 4-patches, and I wrote a note to put in the box, detailing how many completed parts, and how many kitted blocks, and how many 4-patches I'd already made.  Future Self will find that very helpful, I know.  Even if I go back to them next week, at least I won't have to scratch around trying to remember where I'd got up to.

The other blue blocks got the same treatment; I'm waiting on some setting fabric to arrive before I go on with that one, so it makes sense to get it off the design wall until my parcel gets here. 

It's a cooler day today, quite pleasant, and I'm in a much better mood.  I spent three hours sorting out boxes of leftovers and scraps and oddball pieced bits. 
I have a mountain of plastic containers that I've emptied, and all the contents are neatly filed away in ziplock bags, with labels so that I don't have to guess what they are.  I think my day off was just the thing I needed.


Tuesday, February 03, 2015

I've been on a sewing jag for the last week, I can't seem to stop.  I've started cutting for at least 4 new projects, and there is fabric on every surface of my sewing room.  It's so much fun, but I'm going to have to stop and get my bearings soon, so I can see where the heck I'm going!
I've kitted around 30 of these cheddar and blue 4-patch blocks;

I'm trying to be daring and use the eye-popping yellows and golds and oranges in the stash, even though it's not easy. 
I keep wanting to tone it down, but if I can't use these colours then they shouldn't be in my stash.  At least I'm using them up, even if I may not be brave enough to use such a strongly coloured quilt.  'Be Bold!'  I keep telling myself, but it's a struggle.
Ah four-patches! It seems the whole quilt world is infatuated with them right now....
 And there are nine-patches as well, for an unspecified quilt.  I'm just using up scraps and strips with these, and I'll find a use for them later.  They are wonderful leader-enders.

Some madness overtook me and made me cut up a lot of my charm squares to make these 3" nine-patches.  They are so addictive, I can't stop making them, it's lucky that they are so easy to cut and put together. 
They are going to end up as these little 4.25" blocks, and hopefully all those triangles will whittle down the drawers full of scraps. 
I need to get my scraps in control, and that means picking a pattern and cutting them all up, without thinking.  I'm so tired of "Saving" every last little bit, and then never using those bits.  I've been ruthless in the past and got rid of all the little bits, so I know I can do it again.  I'd like to have a go at using most of them first, but when it's not fun anymore I'll pitch whatever is left.

I might need to stock up on charm squares; I can't believe I'm actually using my precious little bundles.  They have so much variety in them, it's a joy to pick through them.  It will be fun to add a few more to the next online shopping expedition.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

We had to take a trip to Jamestown yesterday, to pick up a quilt from the patchwork shop.  It's always dangerous when we go there, and this time I was determined to limit my buying to 4 FQs.  HAH! There were some remnants of batiks at $12 a metre, and Mereth & I fell in love with a big floral and each got 2m, plus some Jo Mortons.....  Well, it was only 5.5m in total, so if I get busy and make some backings I will remove that much from the stash easily.

We had a lovely time visiting with Elaine, the shop owner, and Sharon, a longtime customer of ours; it's so nice to spend time with people who 'get' what you do.  As I was leaving the shop (with my bag of goodies)  I told them about my 4 FQs intention, and they roared with laughter.  Seems like I was the only one who thought I would actually be able to stick to that.  And I was wrong.

After I'd finished a few chores at home I messed around with some trial blocks, because this year is going to be about more than just UFOs.  I've been wanting to do something with my cheddar/orange fabrics for a while, and the quilt Bonnie showed a couple of days ago might just be The One.
Super Simple, but fun too, and it would make an excellent Leader-Ender.  My red nine-patches are nearly all done, so I need something else.

I also have a preoccupation with tree quilts, and spied a pattern on Mereth's computer that appealed to me.  I made a trial block, and I'm still deciding if I want to go ahead with it straight away.  It's a lot of HSTs, made easier with the Accuquilt, but nevertheless, a lot of piecing per block.  It can sit on my design wall for a while, till I make my mind up.
Of course, the leftover madder stars are still on the design wall, but I'm not going to finish them right now.  I want to have a good rummage through the stash and make sure I pull out every large print that I could possibly use in these alternate blocks, and maybe make more stars.  This is going back in the project box for now; I love having a simple project like this up my sleeve, for those hectic times when I can't devote time to making decisions.

Then there are two batik quilts simmering in the background, as I try to choose which one to work on first for a quick finish.  Should I do a 16-patch, which is lightning quick, or a cross quilt like this? (Second part of tutorial here).  I may very well do both, but which one first?  I love this time of choosing what to do next, like hesitating with one hand over the chocolate box.  Whatever I choose, I'm going to enjoy it.

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