Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This photo is innocuous enough; my Singer with the light on. However, it actually represents 5 hours of work. When I bought this machine the light didn't work, and on Sunday I decided to put a new bulb in it. The old bulb had broken off in the holder, so it was a case of getting the pliers and trying to work the base out. About half an hour later I decided I'd better pull it to pieces so I could get at it more easily. An hour later, after ferreting around for the right size screw drivers and memorising each bit as it came apart, I managed to prise the old bulb out. Success!

I put it all back together, feeling quite chuffed, only to have the bakelite casing fall apart in my hands as the last screw went in. Damn! So I hunted through the other 20 machines, to find one with a similar casing. The worst machine, one affectionately nick-named Maggot, was the perfect donor; another half an hour had the casing stripped off, and installed on the newer machine. I plugged her in and flipped the switch; nothing! Grrrr. So I pulled it all to pieces again, and discovered that the switch wasn't making contact with the little copper pins, so I fixed that. And the light worked! Wonderful.

As I was cleaning it up I noticed a lot of yellow dust under the motor; on inspection I saw with horror that all the yellow plastic had crumbled off one lead, and there were bare wires sticking out! We always use Shocksafe cords on our old machines, but bare wires are Bad! I was a bit sick of being an electrician by this time; how can changing a light bulb lead to so many extra chores? I wrapped the wire with electrician's tape, after a trip to the shop to purchase some, and by that time I was so sick of it all that I didn't want to sew any more. Hmphh!

On Monday, after packaging up 6 finished quilts, we ran away for the afternoon. It was the most glorious day, it really felt like Spring, and far too nice to stay inside. We took the dogs and went to Wirrabara Forest for a walk. There are miles of radiata pine forests there, some planted 50 and 60 years ago, and it's a beautiful place to wander. The dogs adore it, Jessie took off like a tiny rocket and never stopped moving for the next two hours. She's such a little busybody.

Matt and I did the 5k walk on the Ipinitchie trail. Along the way we came across this enormous gum tree, absolutely massive. It was very mis-shapen, it must have had a rough and varied life to end up so twisted and convoluted. Mereth did the shorter Nursery walk, to the site where they once raised all the seedlings for the plantations. The photo shows some workers sowing seeds into thousands of bamboo tubes; once they germinated the bamboo tube could be planted out and the seedling just grew happily with no transplanting shock. Pretty clever for 1905.

The ground was carpeted with lots of these tiny gum blossoms, about 1/2" across. They could barely be seen on the trees, but they were pretty on the ground. On the way home we stopped to photograph some almond trees, already smothered in blossom; spring is on the way.Then it was corn on the cob for tea, and a sleep in front of the fire. It was a busy day for these two.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Watching the gymnastics during the Olympics has made me remember when I was 9 years old and learning the basics. It was a fun way to pass the time, and both Mereth and I were keen and enthusiastic. The photo above is our Saturday class on the balance beam; Mereth is the first girl in black leotard, and I am the second. That photo took a while to set up, with all those little girls giggling and overbalancing and not looking in the right direction.

I remember being praised by the instructors, and someone approaching Mum about us trying out for the state team and being picked for special presentations, but it all went over my head. I just wanted to muck around and turn cartwheels and somersaults and soar upwards on the trampoline. I didn't want to be serious about any of it.

It was just a small country town gym, with not much equipment, and after two years I started to lose interest when I realised the risks of landing on the floor with not enough safety mats. The uneven bars and the beam were the worst, with huge metal stands underneath, right where you landed after you fell off. Once we'd learnt all the easy things, and started attempting the difficult manouvres, it started to involve real committment. And after taking some heavy falls, and seeing a girl carted off screaming by the ambulence folks after a mishap on the tramoline, I sort of lost heart. I just didn't want it badly enough.

Those girls at the Olympics do want it badly, enough to take all the falls and the bruises and the disappoinments. I really am amazed at them, and it's one of my favourite things to watch. But when they're on the balance beam I remember exactly how much it hurt to smack your shoulder on it, tumbling down on the way to the floor. I admire their courage.

But the fear of injuring myself didn't stop me riding horses, oddly enough. I did want that badly enough, and even though I fell off, I always got back on again, once with a broken coccyx and once with concussion that put me in hospital. I guess when you're out in the paddock you have to get back on and ride home no matter what. But riding was always worth the risks involved.

I can't wait for the day when we get to choose our own Olympic coverage, and see our favourite sports and none of the others. I will be watching every minute of the gymnastics and the equestrian events, that's for sure. Team synchronised swimming? Don't think so. Distance swimming? As Mereth says, it's like watching mice drowning; not much of a spectator sport. Give me the horses any day.


Monday, August 18, 2008

There has been knitting activity during the Olympics; the scarf is just a $2 ball of acrylic, but it was fun to knit and a scarf is always handy. It's the One Row Scarf from the Yarn Harlot's blog, and was a great pattern to knit while I was travelling. No pattern needed, and easy as pie to do while concentrating on the current Olympic action. I completed the second sleeve of my Tilted Duster jacket, now there is just the collar to knit, but seeing I have to pick up an awful lot of stitches for that I will wait till I have the time and patience. I really hate picking up stitches, and these have to look really neat afterwards. It's tough when all the fun bits are finished and the hard bits have to be tackled.

We took a quick trip to one of our favourite patchwork stores, at a little town called Moonta. It was business, choosing fabrics for a commissioned quilt, but I bought a few FQs for my latest quilt, which is languishing untouched while I watch TV. Maybe a bit of fresh fabric will entice me back to it. The sewing basket is one I admired at an antique shop last summer, but rejected as too costly. It was half price, so I brought it home with me. The inside is ruined, but I plan to find some silk and reline it; it will be a useful learning project. If it turns out nicely I may refurbish some of my other antique baskets with dreary interiors.

I have been quilting each night, and I'm about quarter way through; I had to give it a rest tonight as my fingers are too sore. The cold makes them ache anyway, and I've stabbed them with pins on the longarm, and they need a few days to recover and toughen up. I'm loving the rythym of hand quilting again, and basting it on the longarm was a success. I have several more to do once this one is finished.
My parcel from Hancocks arrived, and it wasn't as big as expected as they had sold out of two of the backing lengths I ordered. But it was still substantial. The fabric fanned out on the left was one of their packs of ten 1 yard lengths, and there are some beautiful fabrics there. I'm so pleased with what they sent me, many of them I would love yardage of. But no more fabric buying just yet, I need to get this stashed away in the fabric drawers first.

There was one dud fabric......
I mean, if you were a clerk packing that order, and saw what my preferences were, you'd stick a piece of sock monkey fabric in too, wouldn't you? Luckily we know a couple of mothers with small children, and they can fight over who gets this. (If anyone wants it at all, that is.)


Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm home again, after a week in Melbourne teaching at Michelle's Sewing Basket. We had a lovely time in the workshops, and I found a few goodies in the shop that had to come home with me. I stayed at Michelle's home in an upstairs flat, with my own TV so I could watch the Olympics in bed each night. Luxury.

It was soooo cold, but I handled it quite well. I've always found that quilters tend to warm up a room fairly quickly, so once we started working in the morning we were fine. It must be our high levels of enthusiasm. Or the heat coming off our machines. Or the quilts we're working on. I am a bad blogger, because despite a new camera, and leaving it in full view each workshop, I didn't take a single photo. I am such a ditz.

I've spent the last two days catching up on work related things, and hopefully I can start off next week with a clean slate. I would like to spend the weekend rearranging my stash and getting it all sorted and organised. Mereth took advantage of my absence to shift 70% of the furniture in the workroom, sewing room and office. It all looks much better, I have to admit, but there's a bit of a muddle to deal with; lots of baskets and boxes and miscellaneous things to put away. She worked Matt so hard that I will have to bribe him to set foot in here again.

There's a customer quilt on the machine that I hope to have finished before Monday, but I can monitor our Olympic progress while keeping an eye on Millhouse, as there is now a TV in the workroom. It's wonderful to see the medal tally mounting up.


Friday, August 01, 2008

This is the BOM quilt that we are putting together for a customer. It's an Annie Downs pattern, and we're enjoying the lovely fabrics and cute stitcheries. The owner has done a lovely job of the embroidery, and it's up to us to complete her good work. It's like a jigsaw puzzle, sorting out which bit goes where, but there have only been minor hiccups so far. I have some final applique to do, and then we can have the top in one piece ready for quilting.

I put the binding on my three quilts today, so I'm caught up again. I should calculate how much material I've used in backings, bindings and the three flannel quilts, it would make me feel better about the Hancock's blowout.
I usually put my bindings on entirely by machine , but I hand-stitched the flannel quilts. It felt really good to be sewing on that luxuriously soft material, and it was a lovely way to spend the evening. I sat on the floor in front of the TV at Mereth's, and Jessie immediately snuggled up with me. Macca crawled underneath, and gave it his seal of approval by falling asleep. These dogs know how to make themselves comfortable.

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