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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Thursday, June 07, 2018

New project

A while ago I bought The Big Book of Civil War Quilts.

There are some beautiful quilts in it, and I have plans to definitely make 4 of them.
This one caught my eye, firstly for the blue and brown colours, second for the tiny pieces,; then when I read the directions I realised that I already had a box of 1.25"  and 2.5" strips ready and waiting.  It was so easy to grab those boxes and bring them down to Adelaide with me.
I arranged all the 1.25"strips in stacks of four, and then cut out my rectangles and squares.  It helped me to visualise what I had left to cut, rather than be overwhelmed by a whole box of strips. 

I spent two days sorting, cutting and arranging in whatever spare time I had, and finally managed to sew 9 blocks.

It took forever, arranging each block, then sewing each in turn.  I felt like I was getting nowhere; 520 blocks at this pace?  Really? 

So my next sewing session I concentrated on just pairing the rectangles with the large squares, then chain sewing them to two sides. 

In no time at all I had 20 sets of pieces sewn together.  It was so much quicker to just choose two fabrics to use together, rather than planning the whole block.

My next window of time I used to match a stack of small squares to each set; I pressed what I'd sewn, and added the small squares to the remaining rectangles.  Then just two more seams and I had a pile of blocks.

I know that it's probably the same time per block, but it was much more satisfying to see progress on a large number of blocks all at once.

Amazingly, I've cut up nearly all my 1.25" strips, so it's back to the charm square stash to cut more pieces.  I'm trying to tell myself to ignore the pinked edges and use the whole 5" square. 
I can cut one 2.5" square, four 1.25" rectangles and four 1.25" squares from each one.

1 charm square equals one block, which is pretty neat.  But I HATE the pinked edges, I hate having to guesstimate where to line fabric up, and what edge to use for the seam allowance.  And the pieces are just too tiny to lose that much in the seam allowances.  Sigh.  I just may have to cut the shapes accurately and deal with the waste, because then the sewing is a breeze and I get perfectly accurate blocks.  I think accuracy is going to win the day.

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Sunday, June 03, 2018

No progress on any front

I'm down at Shonny's, waiting for our baby to arrive, but he's in no hurry. It's so hard to be patient, especially when Hayden has a limited amount of time home. But I'm making the most of just having Isla, it will all be different once the new baby arrives.

I did get some more sewing done, and put all the blue-green blocks together. I'm really pleased with how it turned out, and pleased that I didn't go and buy more of that colour to have more variety. It worked out just fine with what I had. I will have to get a metre of darker print for the borders, but that's OK. I won't have to add that to the stash.
The picture above is very washed out, the colour in this photo is more true to life.

The pattern was Checkered Lattice, from Missouri Quilt Company.  However, that method created bias edges on the outside of the blocks, and I can't be doing with that.  I cut 7" squares, cut them on both diagonals, and used those triangles to build the blocks.  All the finished blocks were trimmed to 7.5" and because the edges were on the straight grain it went together really easily.  I could use even small pieces of fabric instead of the 10" squares in the video.  It wasn't as quick, but I enjoyed the process of choosing fabrics for each block.

I have several things to work on next, I'll spend today sorting out some blocks to sew. I want to have things ready so that I can quickly sew a few things together in any spare moment. 





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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

I have had nearly two weeks at home, which has been pretty wonderful.  I haven't achieved much of the big clean up I wanted to tackle.  I've spent a lot of time in the shop, so that the other people who run it could take a break.  I've sorted out stuff that mice had got into in my absence (poxy little creatures). I've spent time catching up with family here.  So overall, not a lot on my list was ticked off, but it has been relaxing.

I did take a couple of days to sew like a mad thing, and as a result my Tumelo Trails is done.


I'm really happy with how it turned out, it was a lot of fun collecting those shirts and then choosing combinations for the blocks.

I couldn't face that piano key border, so I used leftover 3.5" triangles to make the border.  I like how airy it makes the finished quilt. 

I left it on the design wall for a day, then folded it up and out these blocks back up.
It's been forever since I worked on them, and I had fun last night moving it further along. I love he blue-greens in this, and the back and white is so crisp. They are a fun block to make.

 But alas, I'm back to Adelaide again today.  Shonny is nearly 38 weeks pregnant, and Isla is sick, so I'm going down to help wherever I can.  Shonny needs a few nights uninterrupted sleep.  Hayden is home in a week, and I'm hoping that baby stays put until he gets here, otherwise it will be me in the birthing suite with Shonny.  I'm useless, I had two C-sections, so all I could do is hold her hand and be encouraging.  I guess that will be enough.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The last three months have been hectic, looking after Isla, then the trip to Queensland. We were home for three weeks, then went back for the funeral; it was delayed so that a family member could attend after the last of radiation treatments. Way too much cancer in this family.

Shonny decided to stay an extra week to catch up with friends, and I flew to New South  Wales to visit my friends Kaye and Bruce.  They gave up their Gammil dealership last October, but there are still 3 machines to play on.  I did a customer quilt for Kaye, using the latest software, which was a bit nerve-wracking but it went without a hitch.  Might have to see about updating my system soon, even though I'm never home to use it.

I had a lovely time catching up with Kaye, and sleeping in late every morning in my beautiful 4 poster bed.


The quilt on the bed is made with nine patch blocks made in 2009 by myself and two friends.
We made hundreds of nine-patches over the course of three days, 1 person cutting and 2 sewing. We all had a set of them, and mine are a top, but still not quilted.  I should make that a priority, but there are so many other tops that need quilting.  Some day.....

Kaye was helping plan a Biggest Morning Tea fundraiser for cancer, and we spent the week stitching out mug rugs for the 70 people attending, and making 70 microwave bowls.  They work really well, so I need to make some for myself, now that I know how easy they are.  I also quilted a 60" white sateen wholecloth for a raffle quilt, but luckily someone else offered to bind it so I didn't have to tackle that myself.

Kaye always moves at a million miles an hour, which is how she gets so much done.  She can pin on a quilt in minutes, while I'm still debating whether to get out of my chair.  I was complaining that my feet hurt after the 11,000 steps that day, and Kaye looked at her Fitbit and said '20,000 so far, and I still have stuff to do...'  I'm just not in her league, and she's older than me!

I flew straight home to Adelaide when the week was up, and was met by Mereth.  Surprise, she'd brought Lily along, so after parking the car we bundled Lily up against the cold and the rain, and went back to wait for Shonny and Isla to arrive.  Isla was delighted to see us all, and she and Lily held hands in their car seats on the way home, so sweet.

We didn't have to go back to Crystal Brook in a hurry, so we stayed 2 days and just relaxed.  There was a trip to Costco, which Lily absolutely loved.  So much to see, so many people to say hello to, and a pizza crust for lunch.   It was very exciting.

Finally we drove home, and I walked into my sewing room and thought, What on earth was I doing before I left?  There was stuff everywhere, things have just been dumped and piled all over the place.  I've been sorting out a bit each day, and I'm finally able to see the floor! I have to tackle the cutting table next.

Shonny and Isla came up on the weekend to stay with John and Liz, to celebrate Mother's Day and the twins first birthday.  What a year it's been!  It was Sunday evening before I finally sat down and sewed, but family comes first.  The only redeeming thing about the last few weeks has been so much time spent with family and friends.
So this is my design wall.  Time to get busy making more nine patches.

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