Sunday, September 16, 2018

The days don't seem to go quickly, but the weeks are flying by.  There's so much around here that I want to do, and I work at several projects a day which is satisfying, but all of a sudden a week has gone by and nothing is finished.   I know that I'm primarily a Process quilter, I quilt just for the pleasure of it, but it's nice to have a finished Product every now and then.  And this year has been pretty woeful on the  finishes.

Yesterday we had a family lunch at our brother Doug's place.  Our other brother Greg and his wife drove down from Port Augusta, and we had a leisurely lunch that stretched out till 5.30.  We had such a good time sitting around the table with glasses of red wine, and then tea and coffee, swapping stories from our childhood.. Doug is 13 years older than Mereth and I, and Greg is 3 years older.  Doug's memories are so different from ours, he was a young adult while we were little children, plus he was a wild boy, and a wilder young man, so he has a lot of tales to tell.  He drove our parents to distraction at times, some of his exploits are family legend.  We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon of reminiscing.

I came home and started sewing, determined to finish the quilt on the design wall.  I've been working on it consistently this week, and I had the centre in one piece, so I just had to work out the corner blocks and attach the borders.  I was so relieved when I took the last stitch and hung the finished top on the design wall.


 This is the corner block I came up with, I just love those little strips.
I started this in June, it's been a fun project to work on while I lived in Adelaide and it helped use up a pile of scraps.  It generated a lot too, so I still have a box of 1.25" strips, but at least they're different fabric from the old ones.

I changed my mind about the size of it.  I have a double bed, and I decided I would actually like to use this myself so it was no use making it as large as the pattern.  That meant less blocks, and because I used a border I needed even less blocks. I only used 320, instead of the 520 I was planning on. 
I have about 30 leftover, and they are going to be the start of another quilt like this, but set on point.  I will do these as leader-enders I think, while I move on to a new project.  Or......

Maybe I'll tackle one of these boxes and sort out another WIP.  I would like to whittle down that stack of boxes, and add another finished top to the list.  It's fun choosing what to work on next.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

I've been easing back into life at home, pottering about and fiddling with projects here and there.   Mereth and I have had fun going out to dinner with friends, catching up with family, having coffee in a new coffee shop.  Both of us spend so much time helping with our grandkids, it's nice to just have time on our own, without the babies.  We miss them,  but we're never away from them for long anyway.

I've been spinning in my spare time, which I find really relaxing and absorbing.  Once I've decided what sort of yarn I want to make I just have to concentrate on keeping the thread the right thickness, until I've filled up the bobbin. Patchwork involves decisions all the time, which is what makes it interesting and exciting, but it takes a lot of mental work as well.

These two are going to be plied together to make a jacket for Isla for next winter.  Plying handspun with a commercial yarn  makes the handspun thread go much further.  It feels a bit like cheating, but I'll be knitting much sooner than if I had to spin another bobbin.

 I made a few more of the little blocks over several days, just fiddling with pieces, until yesterday I decided I needed to make some significant progress.  It involved a bit of tidying up first, because the sewing room is still a mess, and there's a lot of new fabric to organize.
 I'm entirely OK with that, I've been buying for projects, not just for stash, so I will use a lot of these straight away.

Once I had a clear cutting table I went full steam ahead on cutting pieces for the border. I cut and sewed, until I had enough pieces on the design wall to see that my border idea was going to work. 
It's like a piano key, but the widths of the strips correspond to the blocks, which will make it easy to attach.  I'll invent some sort of corner block when I get to the stage of assembling it all.  I have about one third of the quilt in one piece, and all but 25 of the blocks finished, so the end is in sight.  I'm getting excited about seeing this come together.

I was really making progress, until I spilled my coffee all over the cutting mat and a pile of freshly cut strips. As a child I was always known  for being the clumsy one in the family, and it hasn't changed apparently.  I don't know if the strips will be usable after being washed and ironed, they may shrink.  Oh well, they can go in the scrap bag for some crumb piecing.  I think I'm going to ban myself from drinking coffee at the cutting table in future, I can't be trusted.

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Sunday, September 02, 2018

I've been lazy since I came home, just pottering around and not doing anything much.  It's been so luxurious, to wake up and decide what I'll do, even if that means not doing anything.  I spent one day out with friends, we had a road trip to a Jamestown and lunch in the pub.  Another day I spent at Helen's farm, chatting for 6 hours over coffee and cake.  And I've spent many days in the shop, so that the other people who run it can have a break.

I'm just sewing in small bursts, whenever I feel like it, and the count for the tiny blocks is 340.  I have 212 sewn into larger blocks, and the rest are single blocks.

 They are so easy to make, it takes no effort to send another 10 or so through the machine.  I've been finishing off all the partly completed ones I brought home from Adelaide, and soon I'll have to start from scratch, building the units up again.  Nice mindless work.  I think I want a border on it, so I won't be making the 520 that the pattern calls for; more like 460, so I'm nearly finished.

There were several fabric expeditions during my time away, trying to find a suitable border fabric for this quilt.  I hate buying fabric for a specific purpose, and then it turns out to be not quite right.  I bought two lengths that looked OK in the shop but not at home;
I finally found the One in Jamestown after our pub lunch.  Now I just need to cut the strips and get them sewn on.
My sewing room is a mess, too many projects and pieces everywhere.  I collected some big boxes from the supermarket, and corralled all the bits for each quilt in one place.  These boxes stack nicely, so they don't take up much room. I will work my way through each project and actually see some finishes soon.

Spring has arrived, the weather is warming up and all the plants stating their new growth.  I feel like I missed out on winter this year, we stayed inside with the baby and the heating was on, which I absolutely hate.  I'd rather rug up in a jacket and adjust to the cold.  But  I won't complain, because it's just so nice to be home again.

(Except that I wrote that a long time ago and I"m now back at Shonny's for a short visit over Father's Day.  But I'll be home again soon; life is a lot of travelling at the moment.)

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Friday, August 17, 2018

I'm home, after 6 weeks at Seonaid's house, helping with Thomas.  I had hoped he would be an easy baby like my son, who loved to sleep and be cuddled and was no trouble at all.  Alas, Thomas had some problems with feeding, and some gut issues, but I think we've solved those now.  He's 9 weeks old, weighs 6 kilos (13 lbs) and is growing at a great rate.  He's just started to chat and play with toys, and is a very handsome lad indeed. 

Emergency bath in the kitchen sink after a spectacular nappy failure.....

In other news, his dad has finished his contract at the gas field where he's been working for the last 15 months, and is home for good.  That means that I'm not needed for a while, so I'll be home for a while.  It will be nice to pick up the threads of life from where I dropped them so many months ago.  Unless Hayden accepts another remote job, and then I'll be back helping out.

I've been home two days now, and I haven't sewn a stitch, too tired to throw myself into the sewing room just yet.  I've been knitting and watching DVDs; actually watching them instead of listening as I work.  It's like a whole new experience, LOL.  I have a stack of new fabric to fold and put away, and things to unpack, so it will probably be a while before I do start sewing.  It's so nice to be home, but I'm going to miss these two.

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

The family visit was fun, we booked an entire dining room at the pub and there were 18 of us there, most of them meeting Thomas for the first time.  It's lovely to see a baby welcomed into the family, being admired and cuddled by Great-Aunts and Uncles all the way down to little cousins.  My Mum would have been tickled pink to see all those babies. 

Shonny came up to have photos taken by Kim, a very talented local photographer, and I went along to wrangle Isla.  She was so suspicious of the lights and various props, and the huge lens of the camera.  When Kim put her on a shaggy rug with Thomas, Isla's panicked expression was like someone about to be operated on without anaesthetic.  But Kim is a baby whisperer, and soon had the shots she wanted, and I then took Isla away while the rest of the photoshoot went on.

We went to a play cafe with niece Liz and her twins, and spent a relaxed two hours with coffee and cake, watching the kids on the play equipment.  It was like the coffee shop in Friends, but with an enormous playground, and for most of the time we were the only people there.  Just our kids, and all that stuff to play on.  I would have adored that as a child.

The photos are stunning, Kim captured the family beautifully.  I love this one of Thomas, he's a little elfling. 

He was so good, for hours, but at the end he was grumpy and just wanted to be left alone to sleep.  What a darling.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Sewing at last


Since I arrived home on Sunday I've barely set foot outside the door.  Normally I run around and visit friends and family to catch up, and then I've no time left for quilting and playing with my stash.  So this time I've become a hermit,sewing late into each night and waking up later in the morning.  It might be anti-social, but I feel like I've had a real holiday.

I thought perhaps I might try and get a few UFOs finished, maybe these Northwind blocks,

but that didn't really appeal.  What I really wanted to do was cut up some stash fabrics to go in my Farmhouse quilt.  I was tired of the fabrics from the box of strips, and desperate for some variety.  Another thing that annoyed me was the frayed edges of some of those strips;
a lot of them felt tattered and worn, and I was sick of threads hanging off and getting stuck in the seams. It seems like the more disordered my life is, the more I need my quilting organised and in control.
Time to add some purple to the mix.

And those charm squares?  It turned out it WAS possible to cut the pieces for a whole block, with no wastage at all.  But then I had to exercise so much care as I used those pieces, allowing for pinked edges and the odd piece that was just too small.  Some 5" squares just aren't 5" after all, which is frustrating.  I tried to trim off the pinked edges where I could, but that created fabric dust that got into my eyes, all over my clothes and the black carpet. (Really?  Black?)  It wasn't the sort of piecing time that I'm used to.  The first little block that I made at home, from my freshly cut, accurately cut strips, was like a little burst of happiness. 

THIS is how I like to work.
I'm up to 100 blocks assembled,

 and many more pieces cut out and bagged up.
It took me so long to work out how I wanted to press it, so that it all nested together the way I wanted, with the seam intersections spinning.  I know it was because I was tired and a bit stressed, but I just couldn't work it out at Shonnys, and it it took me several tries at home too.  But it finally clicked, and now I know how I have to press and arrange them.  Full speed ahead with the next 420 blocks.....

This afternoon Shonny and family are coming up for a quick visit, and then we'll all go back to Adelaide tomorrow, so I need to get some blocks prepped ready to take back with me.  I feel like I'm getting somewhere at last.






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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Our beautiful baby boy arrived, 1 day after his due date, and we are beyond delighted to have him here.

 Thomas Charles, weighing a respectable 3.9k, (8lb 11oz). 

I'm so glad Hayden was there to support Shonny through the labour, I'm sure I would have been useless.  Mum told the story of when she was in labour with her first baby Gran was supposed to bring her things to the hospital.  Gran got halfway up the stairs, heard Mum yelling, and turned and ran away.  She was such a softie, couldn't bear to think of Mum in pain, so she scarpered.  After having 10 children herself you'd think she would have been just the person to have around at a birth, but no.  She never even warned Mum that it was going to hurt, so Mum thought something was horribly wrong and that she was going to die. 
Isla is delighted with her baby brother, and is very loving with him.  All the girls are thrilled, he spends a lot of time being cuddled by each in turn. He's been very good, waking only to have a feed and then obligingly going back to sleep. 

Isla was 5 weeks old before she reached his birthweight; a bigger baby is so much easier to care for than a tiny wee one. 4 hours between night feeds instead of two, settling to sleep straight away, no problems feeding.  In fact, Shonny is managing so well, and Hayden is so attentive, that I'm having a little holiday at home.

It's lovely to be in my sewing room, with my projects on the design wall and my fabric at hand.  I was getting mighty sick of having no choice about what I was putting in my teeny little blocks.  Now I can raid the stash drawers and get some variety in there.  Bliss.

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