Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm in transit right now, staying with my nephew in Adelaide and getting on the plane to Sydney tomorrow. I'm teaching a slew of workshops at the Craft Expo, and I've been finalising notes and class samples and arranging things to run smoothly while I'm gone. I just hope I've thought of everything, and if I haven't, well tough.Yesterday I finished quilting these little wholecloth samples, and that was a lot of fun. I love patchwork, but there's something very satisfying about quilting plain fabric where the designs show up so well. I just love making these patterns and working out easy ways to stitch them. Even on Millhouse they can't be quilted all in one pass, the quilt has to be rolled on and the next bit done, and it's an art to make it all match up perfectly. Or as near as you can get.

Who could ever get tired of feathers? I just love how classical they look, and they suit so many types of quilt. They are such fun to work with.
On Saturday it was a glorious day, so we went off to Bowman's Park for an afternoon walk. It was the end of autumn, so we thought we had better get in some quality outings while the weather was good. We walked up by the quarry, and along the top pf the ridge to the lookout. I love these trees and spinifex grass, and the clear blue autumn sky. So Australian.The view from the lookout was wonderful, and towards the eastern ranges it looked like a watercolour landscape, all soft and delicate. It's well worth the climb up.
I tried to get photos of Dolly, but I only have about 20 blurred images as she galloped here and there at great speed. With no other puppies she had the full brunt of Bonnie's and Macca's attention, and it was a bit overwhelming; she spent a lot of time racing around with them bowling her over and both trying to play with her. Parents can be a bit like that.

She's growing up so quickly, I just hope in two weeks time she'll still remember me. It's a long time in puppy time. I know she's Mereth puppy, but it's the closest I'll get to owning a dog for quite a while. She's has my highest praise; she's as good as a cat.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We had to run an errand yesterday, and made a small detour to Stone Hut for lunch. We took Macca and Dolly for the ride. Amazingly, both of the other puppies have gone to new homes, so now there's only Dolly left. I'm glad that other families will get to enjoy Macca's lovely offspring, and Dolly is enjoying having her Dad to herself.

Who would have thought that dogs like Rock Cakes so much? They begged for every last bit, and hoovered up the crumbs. It's no secret how to get a Staffie's attention; food will do it every time.

Back at home after our little outing, I finished quilting this little quilt of Mereth's. I designed all the motifs and border just for this, and I'm pleased with how it turned out. I seldom get to quilt things for us anymore, too busy with all the rest of the computer work, so it was a pleasure to get this done. I only have about 20 more waiting in the wings.And in isolated moments when I'm sick of doing all the dutiful work I sew a few of these donation blocks. The fabric was a stack of red and black and white samples donated by Elaine in Jamestown, and the blocks are going together very quickly. Soon there will be another quilt to add to the pile of tops.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Yesterday we went for a walk at Bowman's Park, with all the dogs. The puppies did very well, keeping up all the way. On previous occasions we have had to carry them when they got tired. Matt still has two, he intends keeping one, and Pansy just hasn't found a home yet.

They looked ridiculously small in the landscape, and in the creek bottom they weren't even visible above the grass; ripples in the surface marked their progress. They have a ball on our walks, so many things to see and do. Dolly took a while to pluck up her courage, but then became brave and dauntless, so long as we were close at hand.
There isn't much grass around this year, lots of soursobs and thistles as usual. We had lots of rain overnight, so that will help green up this area.
We climbed up quite high, with the dogs covering twice as much territory as us, with their constant back and forthing. Small wonder they get so tired.
I'm just glad none of the puppies lost their footing on the side of this hill, it was a long roll to the bottom.Quite a few trees have blown down this year, and this one had intruiging patterns left by borers all over it. They must have been busy little creatures. If I had any inclination to find out more I'd Google it, but I don't really want to know.
The trails look like Maori patterns, or circuitboards, or the 'dwirling' that Mary does on her quilts.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

I have been sewing bindings for the Bushfire quilts, and rather than cut up more fabric I made scrap bindings from my box of leftovers. Not that you can tell. It's still full to the brim; I think that I will sew it all into one huge length and send it off to JanMac, to help her with the quilts that she is making. Having a pile of binding already made will be one less job for her.Last year, in my favourite junk shop, I found this immensely tall trestle ladder. I've always wanted a quilt ladder, so I bought it. Matt took off the hinges at the top and separated the two sides, so I have two like this, and then sanded them down and smoothed out all the splinters and loose edges. It fits into the workroom very well, as the ceilings are so tall. I will need to stand on another ladder to put a few quilts on the higher rungs. It's a lovely way to display quilts.
I needed a break from the computer this weekend, I'm busy finalising the three workshops I'm teaching at Sydney, and I'm sick of looking at computer screeens. So I pulled out a bunch of red and cream blocks that I sewed at our patchwork group meetings, and put them together with a piece of leftover backing from a customer quilt. I absolutely hated these blocks while I was making them, but now I like the finished top. It appears I have no judgment at all when it comes to half-finished projects. The best thing to do is to tell myself to shut up and keep sewing.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Last week Mereth and I went off to Adelaide yet again, to collect another couple of machines that I won on Ebay. One was this Singer 185, in pristine condition. I have to wire another plug onto this, as the one it had was incompatible with Australian sockets. I haven't been able to sew with this yet, but it's absolutely spotless and beautifully cared for, so I imagine it will sew well. It's a backup in case Mereth's beloved 185 ever stops sewing. For $25 it was a bargain.I love the old paper tag attached to the cover...
I also bought this 1960s Singer for $23, a little the worse for wear, but still functional. I love this crackle finish on it, so 60s, and it was all the rage in my childhood. This would have been a top-of-the-range machine in it's day.

Most importantly, it had it's manual, and I really wanted that. Last year I bought a close cousin of this machine, a 631, and I use it as a backup for my 201. There was an intruiging part that came with it, which I later discovered was a chainstitch accessory. But I had no idea how it was used; that's where this machine and it's manual come in. It has the same accessory, and it fits into the bobbin area, with a special chainstitch plate. Eh voila! Now it sews a chainstitch instead of a lockstitch. It's like magic.
I had no idea that there were machines that could do both; it would be great for tacking clothing parts together, so easy to undo. Alas, I can't think of anything I can use it for right now, but I'm glad I know all about it. One less mystery in my life. I may even embroider something in chainstitch, that would look good I'm sure.

While I tinkered with my machines this morning, up at the hall, Dolly kept vigil behind Mereth's chair. She is never far away from either of us, she just loves company.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

3 rows of the Dear Jane blocks are complete, and I'm adding the sashing as I go along. I would hate to face that job at the end, so I will join them as I make them and it won't be so overwhelming. I like how it's looking, and Judie Rothermel was nice enough to send me two more FQ packs of her latest releases, so I have plenty of wonderfukl new reproductions to play with. But these blocks will be going away for a while, as I'm too busy to conentrate on them for a while.

In two weeks I'll be at the Craft Expo in Sydney, so I have to get organised and everything up to date before I leave. My head is spinning with all the extra work, and if I do any sewing it needs to be very easy and mindless.

At night I go round to Mereth's to work on my crocheted afghans, which I'm enjoying mightily. It's so easy, and the colours are such fun. Someone else is enjoying it too.
I think it's time that Mereth owns up to adopting Dolly. We're sort of sharing her, as during the day she is in her crate in my office, while Mereth quilts in the workroom. She's extraordinarily good, just sleeps and goes outside for walkies. I've never met such a placid, cuddly puppy. Even if she has a play and gets quite beside herself with excitement she calms down immediately if she's asked to. It's not natural.

Did you know that Staffies are lap dogs? I didn't either, but Dolly assures me that SHE is a lap dog alright.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Hope everyone had a good Mother's Day on Sunday, my day was full of flowers. On Friday I received a floral arrangement from my kids, which was very thoughtful of them. I'm sure it was my DD's idea, but I also got a text message from the boy, which proves he didn't forget.

I believe in the original spirit of Mother's Day, and the giving of white flowers. The Hospital Guild had a stall outside the supermarket, and I bought 4 bunches of white and purple crysanthemums from them. I had the satisfaction of knowing the money would help the hospital, and my house will be full of flowers for the next few weeks. They came from someone's garden locally, fancy having armfuls of flowers to pick. I may also have bought two pots of crysanthemums for my garden, in the hope that next year I'll have my own bounty to share.

I don't think elaborate presents are appropriate, and I hate the advertising catalogues that say 'Give Mum a plasma TV for Mother's Day!!!!' Giver her a hug and do the dishes, I say.

My DS contributed to my lovely day by linking up my computers with a wireless network while he was down here. Now I can sit in the kitchen and read blogs while I'm waiting for things to cook, or catch up on email in between bouts of dishes and cleaning up. It's fantastic, I just love being able to access my desktop computer as I sit in the kitchen with a cup of coffee. I can even print things while I'm eating dinner if I want. Cool.We're drowning in quilts here, I have to pack up two more boxes for the Bushfire appeal, and then it's back to customer quilts and our own projects for a while. I'll take some photos of my Dear Jane progress tonight, but it's about to be packed away for a while. I need to work with BIG pieces of fabric again, not these microscopic little flakes.


Friday, May 01, 2009

I've been busy with the Dear Jane blocks, and have 40 finished, which rather surprised me. I didn't think I'd finished nearly 1/4 of the blocks; I'm going to slow down a bit, I want this to be a long term project, not something I gallop through at great speed and hardly remember doing. I mean to enjoy the journey with this quilt.

That block in the middle of the top row nearly killed me; it's fairly straightforward, if tiny and complicated, and it took me about 3 hours to do. If I EVER do another Dear Jane I will substitute a 4 patch for this block, I never want to make it again.

Last week was busy, lots of things to do, including taking all seven pups and Bonnie to the vet in Pirie for immunisations. They all behaved impeccably, and a lady in the waiting room fell in love with this girl, Panda, and bought her. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth from Mereth, because Panda was her favourite, but she's gone to a great home. She will have an older lady dog to mother her, and a German Shepherd pup to play with, a 5 year old boy as her master and is going to sleep on his bed every night. I'd say she's fallen into a life of luxury.

But Mereth still misses her....

There was a trip to the Moonta patchwork shop with the Sonias, and we had a wonderful day out. Everything at the shop was 50% off, so we did our duty and bought quite a bit of it. This is my haul, and I'm just waiting for a spare moment so I can pet it and put it away in the stash baskets. It's gorgeous stuff.
And today I finished this top, at last. It's been a bu**er to make, it fought me every inch of the way, but at last it's in one piece. I caused half the trouble myself by ironing the seams in different directions for each row. That didn't work at all, because I kept changing my mind and putting bits in different rows, and then all the seams didn't nest properly. Finally I bit the bullet and ironed every seam to the dark side, and they fit into each other perfectly. I knew to do that, but I just forgot somehow. I had one awful seam where I just had to mash all the allowances flat, but after that it was easy.
I'm glad I put the red in there, it would have been dull without it. It's due to go on Millhouse later this week, and then off to the bushfire appeal.

I'm off to Mereth's house for a roast dinner, and to watch some Inspector Morse episodes. I love Morse, and I've never seen any of them until now, so it's a real treat to have 2 whole DVDs of them.

These are the only two puppies not spoken for;

Dollyand Pansy. Anyone want to give them a good home?

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