Thursday, January 29, 2009

As soon as I admitted defeat with my 2.5" strips I tuned my attention to the drawer of 2" strips, which would neither open nor close without a struggle. I wrenched it out and started cutting everything into 5" rectangles and 2" squares. Then I sewed them into these two blocks, which was a very satisfying and speedy process. It's not going to be pretty, but the blocks are no trouble to sew, completely mindless, and like all my favourite scrap patterns there is a place for darks, and lights, and mediums. So all the strips should have a home, no matter what.

Except for the fact that I seem to have cut (Overcut of course) several fabrics that I used as sashings in other quilts, and I couldn't really put them all in these blocks because there would be no room for other fabric. And I had a huge amount of double pink and indigo strips, which didn't seem to fit with the other blocks.

Onto plan 2. I dug out my Orphans pile, which is almost confined to a 55 litre tub, except for the overflow which lives in another project box. And a box from the Post Office. And a drawer under the cutting table. Every time I think I can Conquer the Orphans I come face to face with how many I actually have; A Lot!

Undaunted I pulled out a pile of pink and indigo blocks, and set about using up those 2" strips as the setting. Which let me to ponder the question, 'Why must I always make a Pattern out of odd things?' I strive to just throw things together, I have tried for years to just bung things together and cut off the excess, and I just can't do it. I end up labouring to create order from chaos.

I don't know whether to regard it as a personality problem or a saving grace. Because while I love the work of Bonnie and Tonya in the random department, I also like to work my own way. I guess I like to put my own stamp on things. I need to see some form of pattern and predictability. But I did use up most of those pink and indigo strips, and now I'm going to add a TOTALLY random border of blocks, all in pink and blue tones. I can so do this...

Just for my own amusement yesterday, I put my Dad's old thermomenter on the back verandah. This is from the late '50s, so it doesn't have a Celcius scale on it, but I didn't need that to know that it was hot. In the shade of the back verandah, where all my precious plants are sheltering, it was 110 degrees. I don't know if my fuchsias will survive, they are dried to a crisp. I've filled my bathroom up with plants that I hope to nurse through this heatwave, but the bigger pots will have to take their chances. My zucchini and tomato bushes are laughing at the heat, so hopefully they will pull through, as will the roses. But it's absolutely brutal. Autumn will be such a welcome relief.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

This is a knotted rug that I've been working on for ages, probably 7 years or more. I always wanted to make a latch-hook rug, even as a child, but the kits were so expensive that I could never afford to do one. About 25 years ago I found a bag of pre-cut wool in an op-shop, dark brown and white, and so I grabbed it and squirelled it away in the dark recess of my craft cupboard. Many years later I bought some rug canvas cheaply; later again I found tapestry wool at a going-out-of-business sale. Then I bought a latch-hook, and finally I began to make this rug.

I'd like to say I loved it, but I didn't. It hurts my hands to do the knots, and it's slow and cumbersome and I don't like it as much as a hooked rug. But I had waited all those years to do it, and once I'd started I just had to keep going. Last winter I gritted my teeth and gave up hours and hours of valuable knitting and spinning time to get this finished. I even bullied Mereth into doing some when my hands complained too much. Then I ran out of the brown wool, and it's way too small, but that's all there is folks. Last Monday I put the final knots into the border, threw the thing on the floor and glared at it.

I couldn't believe how much time and effort had gone into it, how many years of storing all the bits and pieces, and the burden of knowing I had to finish it. I'm so relieved it's done, but it will be a while before I can look at it without a shudder. Some things just cost too much. I doubt I'll ever do another one!

So why did I buy this gadget at the gift shop next door? (Rotary cutter included for scale)It's a bakelite thingummy-jig, and obviously designed to be a labour-saving version of a latch-hook, with a cutter and all. I've had a play with it, and I can't work out a way that it would be quick and easy to use. I wish it came with instructions! Never mind, it can go in the collection of widgets that I have, all amazing contraptions for craft work.

It's a great tennis match tonight, Safin and Federer. I'm going round Mereth's to watch it on the big TV, and we're having a beef curry with lots of veggies. I bought a Tagine this year, and it's the best investment ever. It's a middle-eastern cooking pot, and the odd shaped lid keeps all the moisture in and cooks everything beautifully. I just cut up a heap of meat and veggies, throw them in the tagine with 3 tablespoons of whatever curry paste I prefer and 1/2 cup of coconut cream. It goes into a moderate oven for a few hours and that's all there is to it. And those are homegrown green and orange capsicums in there; I'll throw in some homegrown chard half an hour before we're ready to eat.

It's probably hard to get Patak's in the States, but luckily it's in all the supermarkets here. On my trips to the U.S. I only ever saw curry spice once, a tiny tin that cost $5. I would hate to live without curry, it's my favourite meal.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

These are the blocks on my design wall, Chain Of Arrows, and they are entertaining me no end. They are just a combination of Hourglass and Railfence units, so there's nothing tricky about putting them together. I don't make a lot of Hourglass units, so I'm enjoying getting the technique right. It will only be a small quilt, 30 9" blocks with sashing; I may have to use a daring red, or I may go for a quieter grey or lilac. I'll decide that later when all the blocks are done.

I'll have to tally up the yardage I'm using, but I've already used up two FQs of shirtings I bought the other day at Jamestown. I hate it when fabric doesn't even reach the stash drawers, just gets swallowed up in blocks straight away. It's like I never had it! The Judie Rothermels and Civil War fabrics are just perfect for this block, and I've definitely let my fabric club material sit on the shelf for long enough.

I've been binding my table runners today; as I complained to Mereth, it's not like I can even blog about that, as you all probably thought I finished them ages ago. I've been using them with raw edges ever since I quilted them, and every time I went past them I thought, I MUST put the binding on them. Well I have now, and I'm glad I can take that job off the list.

The weather is horrible hot now, after me boasting about how nice it was. But it's an excuse to sit in the air-conditioned offfice and get caught up on paperwork and bookwork. I'm fighting the urge to bring a Featherweight in here and sew; there's work to be done, and I need to apply myself.

The Australian Open is on at nights, which is wonderful. I intend to get a lot of hand sewing done as I watch my favourites. I honestly have no idea why I love watching it so much, when I would not ever willingly pick up a tennis racket again. Ever.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Yesterday we went on an outing with our patchwork friends, to celebrate the 60th birthday of one of our members. We went to the patchwork shop at Jamestown first, and found a few things that had to come home with us. I was very good, and only bought 2m of fabric and some needles. I even wrote the purchases into my spreadsheet when I got home, so I'm actually keeping records.

Afterwards we went to lunch in a new little cafe, and there was much laughter and talking and a lot of blueberry tart to be eaten. It looked wonderful, but Mereth and I had raspberry cheesecake instead. It was a very decadent meal in the middle of the day, and most enjoyable.

This is what Liz gave her husband for Christmas;I think it's a wonderful idea and my kids should have had one each when they were growing up!

I'm busy sewing on a new project, photos tomorrow when the light is better. I'm pleased to say that I am actually using my Judie Rothermels, and the blocks are looking fabulosa!

Today we had to vote in our local election; luckily the polling place was in the next building up from me, so I didn't have far to go. That's the nice thing about living in the main street.

I gardened today, and spent a lot of time fertilising and watering and making everything comfortable. Matt took away a bag of tomatoes to dry in his dehydrator, which he got for Christmas. He's made some wonderful beef jerky, much nicer and cheaper than the bought stuff.

We are having a lovely summer, cool in the mornings and at night, and just a nice sort of hot in the day time. I hope I haven't jinxed it by mentioning how nice it is.

Mind you, we had a blistery scorcher of a day last week, which was just awful! For some reason, we thought it would be a good day to go to the next town and do a bit of shopping; air-conditioned car, air-conditioned shops, who cares if it's hot. When we hopped into the car I noticed that the windscreen was dusty so I thought I should spritz it with the wipers. No water came out of the nozzles, but the wipers were dragging across the dry surface. Horrors! In trying to get them to stop I somehow managed to turn on the back wiper,which I didn't know I had, and now there were two lots screeching across the windows.

I raced into my laundry, grabbed a bucket of water and ran out to throw it over the windscreen. It must have been soapy water, because when it dried, almost instantly, the whole windscreen went white. AAGGHH! Back I ran for another bucket of clean water, while Mereth was stuck in the hot car busily reading the manual and trying to work out how to turn off that blessed back wiper. It took another two buckets of water before all the windows were clean and the wipers silenced.

It was funny afterwards, but we nearly melted into a puddle! I must start putting my poor car into the garage, instead of leaving him to fry in the sun.

The last photo is a beautiful red rose from a bush that Mereth gave me last year. It's fragrance is gorgeous, and it perfumes the whole kitchen. It's hard to decide on a favourite flower, but i think roses are mine.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

These quiltathons are a good idea, I can certainly get a lot of sewing accomplished, but it wrecks my sleep patterns. I was up till 4am last night (or this morning, depending on how you look at it). I've had 5 hours sleep, and don't feel all that bad, but I think I will have to have a nap this afternoon, thus wasting valuable sewing time. Drats.

My 2.5" strips situation was getting dire; I sewed 5 quilts from them and the drawer still wouldn't close. On Friday night I resolved that I would get rid of every existing strip. It was an admirable goal, but I don't think I'll be able to do it in one weekend.

This top used up all of the blue and brown strips, including most of a collection of hectic light blues that overwhelm any fabric they're teamed with. I was on the point of binning them, but they found a reprieve here. The navys and dark browns subdue their brightness to a point where I can live with them. This was super quick to make; I just sewed a light and dark strip together and cut equal numbers of 6.5" and 2.5" slices. Then I arranged them in rows to get the pattern, and played around till I liked the balance of colour. I sewed it in a day, but I have to admit it was a looooonng day. It was so simple that it was fun all the time, and there were no nasty seams to match up. Loved it.

Then I pulled out all the medium browns and the pinks, and cut them up into squares, for nine patches. I am well over my aversion to 9 patches, obviously! These will be leader-ender squares.But there were still a heap of reds, and greens, and lots of wishy washy strips left. So I decided all the reds and nuetrals would become these blocks, because they are super simple, and no nasty seam intersections either.And then whatever is left is going into a Roman Stripe. I am committed to using up every last bit. We'll see how that goes, once my rational, reasoning mind kicks in. I just know I'm going to try and make it look 'nice', and before you know it I'll have cut a pile of strips and I'll be back where I started.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

I was planning to do Bonnie's latest mystery, Double Delight. Once I saw those Square In Square units I was pretty sure that Mereth would sign up for it too. However, I didn't exactly volunteer to do the 9 patches for Mereth's mystery quilt. It's more like the job was delegated to me....
It took a mighty long time before I had all 130 done, and now I know that there's no hope I'm going to turn around and do my own version. So Mereth will have to give me lots of Brownie points for doing this little chore for her.

It's not as if I don't have anything on my design wall either; these are Log Cabins using 1.25" strips, that finish at 3/4". The centres are the leftover pinwheels from my Showgrounds quilt, and the logs are a mixture of scraps and precious Judy Rothermels. I am ashamed to say that I have hardly used any of the FQs that I get from her club, it's as if they are too good to ever use. So I started cutting a 1.25" strips from each of them, and that way I get to use them, but it's such a miniscule amount that I don't have any usage anxiety at all.

Honestly, quilters need a whole vocabulary to describe the range of emotions they go through; stash guilt, usage anxiety, fabric euphoria. We should make a list so other people know just what a difficult thing it is to be addicted to fabric.

I want to write a post about New Year goals, and dwell a little on what I will regard as important this year, but I really have to go to work. I need to update my accounting software and tackle all the figures (blech) and then there's a lot of computer housework that must be done (fragged up to here, it is!) and then there's a whole bunch of real life stuff to do as well.

One of my resolutions is to try and truly understand my accounting software, so my accountant won't send me stern emails about how I left the whole of July unreconciled, and it simply won't do! But alas, I don't think QuickBooks and I will ever be on the same page....

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Remember I said I wanted to do something old, something new, something finished and something fun?

This is the Sisters Choice top, finished and ready for quilting. I battled with myself all the time I was putting this together, convinced that the blocks were too boring for words, and the setting was overkill. It wasn't until I hung it up that I fell in love with it. I think it's so strange that something makes me keep going with an idea, even though my rational brain is railing at me that it's all a mistake, and then it turns out that I knew what I was doing after all. I have lost all sense of judgment it seems; I need to turn off that horrible voice of reason that is so sure everything is wrong.

For my something new, I played with EQ6. Judy uses it to great effect with her quilt designing, and I want to make it a more regular part of my design process. Maybe I'm worried that I will spend all my time making virtual quilts instead of real ones, but nothing really takes the place of the feel of fabric and the hum of the machine. I enjoy working with EQ6, and I know that I haven't explored even a fraction of what it can do.

The old? I dug these buttonhole applique blocks out of the cupboard and started previewing fabrics to set them with. These are 5" blocks, and I sell a pattern pack of the patterns; (American quilters can buy it here). I made a quilt of these patterns in red and green 15 years ago, but it was stolen on the way to a show in America, so it is no more, alas. I'm working with blue and brown this time, and enjoying the small scale and the embroidery aspect; I have 3 more blocks kitted and ready to go, simple stitching for the evenings.

And the fun thing? I sorted out all my embroidery threads and wound the new ones onto cards. It was mindless entertainment and brought order to my thread box. I'm obviously easily amused!

I hope all of you are enjoying the first days of 2009; I haven't looked at a calendar yet, so the full impact of being so close to the end of the first decade of the 2000s hasn't hit yet. Next week we'll be back to work on our various ventures, so it will wait till then.

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