Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Colonial Squares project took on a life of it's own during the week, and I started working on it exclusively. That seems to happen to all my leader-ender projects, and so I just shrugged and gave in gracefully. I definitely needed mindless sewing; my laptop died, and I've been busy buying a new one, loading all the software, retrieving backed up files and trying to track down all those serial numbers for the software. Most of what I had on the old computer is set up and working, but it's just like the whole week was in aid of getting back to where I was originally. Oh well, it could have been much much worse, if my files weren't backed up. Thank heavens for squares to sew together, it was a great stress reliever.

Mereth gave me a great tip about sewing it together; she said to make the centre square first, then make the corners, thus avoiding all those long, long rows of blocks on the diagonal. It's been a breeze so far, just three corners to go and it will be a finished top. Then I will just have to deal with the leftovers, of which there will be a pile. I was a little enthusiastic when I was cutting for this quilt, but that's nothing out of the ordinary for me. I'd better think of a block pattern that uses lots of 3.5"squares....

And because it felt wrong not to have a leader-ender, I substituted these cross blocks. For some reason I have a whole drawer full of these pieces, and if I ever had a plan for these blocks it's long forgotten. I thought I'd better get the blocks made, and then I can start thinking about what to do with them. Maybe they would make a nice border, with a set of simpler blocks in the centre. It will be a while before I have to decide, I must have 50 of these to make. I wish I would write myself little notes, to remind Future Me what on earth I was up to.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

I spent the weekend working outside, and made a start on my summer vegetable garden; lots of capsicum, tomatoes, chilli and lettuce seedlings planted, and seeds sown for baby spinach, salad greens, beans and zucchini. My hands look dreadful now, with broken fingernails and scratches, and stinging nettle rashes. It will all wear off or grow out, but right now I have hobbit hands. I had planned to bind three quilts, but that hurts my fingers anyway, so I have to let my hands heal a bit before I tackle that job. Binding is tough on the hands.

I did manage to do a bit of sewing in between the outside work. I put these Framed Crosses into a top, which has loads of white space to show up the quilting that I plan for it. As soon as I had the blocks in one piece I decided I needed to remake the quilt with a smaller block, so I drew it up in EQ6 and resized it to 9.5". I will end up with two nearly identical quilts, but there's no way I've had enough of this block after just one quilt. I need to make another 40 or so...

I've been using my 3.5" squares as leader-enders, and the Colonial Squares has grown to this size. I'm probably about 1/3 of the way there, and I'm liking it so far. I'm not in any hurry to finish it, so it's a good project to have as a leader-ender; no temptation to race ahead and work on it exclusively.

I succumbed to another temptation, and added this litte Singer 538 to my collection. I usually sew on my Mum's 201P, and I decided to give it a holiday. It's very precious, full of memories, and I don't want to overwork it, so it will be my paper-piecing machine; I can leave it set up with a small stitch length, and sew regular seams on the 538. Which incidentally does the most awesome 1/4" seam out of any of my machines; my Framed Cross blocks are so perfect it's eerie! I normally don't achieve that degree of perfection without a struggle. I haven't named this machine yet.

Good thing I worked in the garden over the weekend; there's thunder and lightning outside, and rain threatening. It's a day to stay inside and tackle more UFOs. That's no hardship at all.


Monday, September 14, 2009

In my quest to cut down on UFOs I pulled out a pile of blocks and put them together over the weekend. Choosing the fabric took more time than actually sewing it, and it was a pretty painless project overall. The top turned out much prettier than I expected, and when I took it to Patchwork yesterday quite a few people offered to adopt it and take it off my hands. As a favour of course. It came home with me despite the offers.

I made these as a Colour Sampler, which is a workshop I teach. All the blocks have the same construction, it's just that the fabrics are in different places in each block. It's an exercise in learning about colour and tone, and I always enjoy making one of these quilts, or watching students build the blocks. There are always surprises, and something to learn about how colour and pattern interact.

I think this is my favourite block in the quilt, and it's not my usual choice of fabrics, but I love how soft and sweet it looks. Everyone agreed that it wasn't Me at all, but I must have loved all the fabrics or they wouldn't have been in my stash. I think there are a lot of Pretty quilts waiting to be made from my stash, not just 1800s reproduction lovelies. I do love most fabrics, except for that piece of sock monkey stuff that Hancocks threw into one of my orders. That found a home elsewhere quick smart.

I vowed that if today was a nice day I would be out in the garden, and that's where I'm heading. I have loads of cuttings to repot before our hot weather, and things need to be tidied after the winter of neglect. I'm becoming more and more interested in succulents, not only for their drought tolerance but for their amazing geometry and superb symmetry. I bought this one from Ikea (honestly, you can buy anything there!) and I love the patterns of the spines. I have to keep turning it round in the light, or it will grow lopsided, and we can't have that. You can't see it very well, but each of those bumps has a long sharp spine, about 1/4" long. I'm very wary whenever I put my hand near this plant; it bites!


Friday, September 11, 2009

I felt like the blue and yellow top wasn't quite finished, so I added a border of 2" half-square triangles. Now it looks complete, and I'm really happy with the result, even if it drove me insane for two days. It seemed to take forever, and I came so close to sewing one strip of triangles on the wrong way round, discovered my mistake just in time and repinned. If I'd had to unpick it I would have wadded the whole thing up in a cupboard, I'm sure.

I needed some frivolous sewing after that, and these Messenger Birdies by Melly & Me were perfect. Sonia and I bought the pattern for them, along with the reindeer, at Moonta on one of our excursions, and were determined to sew whole flocks and herds of them. Mereth and our other friend Sonia were most unimpressed, and thought we were nuts. Hah! Who's silly now? We made 3 complete birdies in one sitting, and they are so cute. We all love antique buttons, and chose to attach the wings by sewing through buttons on either side. This has the added benefit of making the wings movable, which is seriously cute. They need eyes, but we're waiting on black seed beads.

Next up are the reindeer, but there's no way I'm doing those antlers in fabric, I think they'll be thick felt or something. I have a limited patience for fiddly bits.

My son sent me this picture of his cat, Squeak.

'I haz died in sympathy'

That's one tiny mouse; he said she was well pleased with herself!


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Here on the ironing table are four tops that I'd like to get quilted soon, along with their backings. Backings are great for stash-busting, there's 19 metres there, about the most painless way to get rid of yardage apart from giving it away. My friend Kaye uses plain fabric on the back of her quilts, to show off her gorgeous quilting, and I have thought of copying her. But I just can't resist the chance to use these large print fabrics in great chunks, so the beauty of the design isn't lost in little pieces.

I now have 6 tops on hangers, waiting for quilting, and I'll have to step in quicksmart and grab the machine in between customer quilts. The zippered leaders work great for us, so I don't have to finish the quilting in one session, I can put my quilt on the spare bed when Mereth starts work in the mornings.

We've had a few diversions lately, quilty trips away. There was a dash to Jamestown, to pick up a backing. Dolly loves car rides, and after a few complaints, has resigned herself to the harness. She manages to make herself quite comfortable on the back seat, and gets some quality nap-time.

"Are we there yet?"

That's the window and door of the quilt shop in Jamestown, so yes, we are there!

On Tuesday we went on a reconnaisance trip to Adelaide with our mate Sonia, to suss out our group's Christmas excursion. We went to a discount fabric store first, with predictable results, then on to the lovely Hettie's Patch, with a similar outcome. Honestly, what's the use of going to these places if you don't buy something? And anyway, I just used up 19 metres in those backings, so I'm allowed to restock, surely. We had a lovely day, and came up with a plan for the group outing, so it was time well spent.

The lemon tree is loaded with beatiful fat lemons, and I will have to find some recipes to use them up. There are still a few oranges, and I have bowls full of fruit everywhere. Matthew picked me a bunch of wattle on one of his walks, and my kitchen table is glowing with green and gold.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Is it really September already? I can't believe that most of the year has flown by already, and I wasn't paying attention. I know I was busy doing things, but if I didn't have the blog I don't think I'd remember any of it. I've been reading a few blogs lately that agonise over why they blog, and whether they should go on doing it. My attitude is that it's a great way to keep a record of what I'm up to, and so long as I enjoy it I'll keep posting. Simple.

We've been having Spring weather for weeks, so the official start of the new season isn't a huge thing. I even have a tomato on a volunteer plant that came up over the winter months. There's something not quite right about a winter-flowering tomato; where's the cold winds and the frost? We had one frost this year, and while I'm grateful for the mild weather I also miss true winter. Maybe next year it will revert to normal, and I'll be complaining bitterly.

I've been in my sewing room whenever I can, attacking ancient projects. I kitted up these blue blocks before I left Rockhampton, so it was at least 3 years ago. As I unpacked the pieces I remembered where my conversationals had gone, cut into pieces for these blocks, and then forgotten. Life is a constant surprise for me these days!

I sewed these 30 blocks in two sessions, and put them together into a top in a third session. I am so glad I have a nice DVD collection to watch as I work; I watched Law & Order and Morse, and it does help the time pass pleasantly.

Once I had the ancient pieces together I started on a more recent project, red and white blocks from 18 months ago. I haven't worked on these blocks for the strangest reason. I love making them sooooo much that I don't want to finish them, because then I won't be able to make them any more. Is that odd? Obviously I just need to get on and finish this lot, then make a blue and white set, or scrap, or brown or.... I've wanted a red and white quilt for so long, you'd think I should be happy to be getting closer to a finished item, but it's not working that way.

I'm really trying to work through my UFOs, which are a whole year older than when I catalogued them. So I've pulled out these vintage hexagons, from 2000, and I'm sewing them together at night, by hand. The hexagons are 3" along each side, which is huge, so it grows very quickly. It won't be pretty, the fabrics are too disparate for any sort of harmony, but I'm sure I'll be very fond of it, uglies and all. I remember fabric shops from my childhood when I see some of these prints, and how I desperately wanted material of my own to play with. What is that saying; Careful what you wish for, for you will surely get it. I surely did!

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