Saturday, June 25, 2011

My girl is settled in at her new job, and my house seems very empty without her.  She has started a blog, which is a great way for her to record her time up there, and to keep her friends updated as well. If I can get her blogging, I'm sure that I can get her quilting soon...

I'm busy with taxes right now, but hopefully the end is in sight, and then I'll be able to spend a lot more time sewing. 

I'm up to 21 of the Jacob's Ladder blocks, with another 10 just waiting to be sewn together.  I figured I'd need 63, so I'll only be halfway once all the kitted blocks are sewn up.  I'll try and cut out a heap more tonight, because its such a help to have all the pieces cut and waiting.

I need to decide on borders for the plaid quilt, so I can get that quilted and into use.  I think I have to start another one straight away; I opened a drawer and found 8 blocks that I'd put away for safe-keeping.  The drawer was even labelled, so there is no excuse for forgetting they were there.  I think I'll just kit up another set of blocks, they were brilliant leader-enders and used up so many of my scrap strips.

I really miss keeping track of my yardage in and out, so I'm going to start that again.  I really have no idea what I've used this year, so I feel like I'm getting nowhere.  I've bought a fair bit, but probably not as much as I think.  Instead of discounting what I've used, and blowing my acquisitions out of all proportion, I'd like to  know the actual  figures.

It's time to choose another UFO to finish, and I think it will be my blue and green tumbler quilt. 
Seonaid admired it and said she'd like it, so I have a reason to get it finished now.  I love it when I can make a quilt specifically for someone, it's lovely to know that it's going to someone who wants it.  It only needs another two rows and a border, so it shouldn't take long.

I know someone else who misses Seonaid;

Dolly searched for her when I came home, but there was only me.  I'm better than nothing I guess, but Seonaid was the light of Dolly's world there for a while.  There will be much excitement when she comes to visit..


Thursday, June 16, 2011

This is the hotel at Parachilna, a typical old Aussie pub. 

We arrived at dusk on Saturday, and had a drink in the bar to unwind.  It was a good drive, but right at the end there were a few kangaroos with no road sense.  The wildlife is always a hazard on out back roads, luckily we managed to avoid them.  If I lived out here I would probably drive a great big 4WD like the one in the photo.

The decorations in the bar were decidedly rural, including this magnificent skull. 
Once it was dark they lit a fire out the front, and everyone stood round with their drinks, toasting themselves in the heat and admiring the night sky full of stars. Two of the guests were setting off the next morning on a 6 day bushwalk, which sounded wonderful.  The scenery is magnificent, and when you cover it on foot you have  time to admire it properly.  There are two pilots based here who offer scenic flights, and they were interesting to talk to as well.

One of the features of this pub is the food, which features 'feral' meat; goat, camel, emu, kangaroo and rabbit.  Seonaid has always been a cautious eater, so the menu was a bit daunting for her.  We settled for antipasto, which was unadventurous, but delicious anyway.

In the morning I wandered around by myself while Seonaid was touring the whole place and learning more about the job. 
I watched the pilots fussing over the planes before the first flight of the day; if I was brave enough I would go up in one of these tiny planes, but I'm a chicken.  About 10 years ago I had a very scary flight in a little 16 seater, and once it was over I vowed I would never again fly in a plane where I could touch both sides at once.
I was reading this information poster when I noticed something interesting.
 At first I only noticed the men, railway workers from 1905,
then I saw there was a child in the photo as well, and when I looked closer there is a dog curled up at one man's feet.  It really brings those times to life, to think of the family life behind this image.  In those days it would have been a rare privilege to have your photo taken, and some mother was probably tickled pink to have her child in the photograph.
We were on the road again by lunchtime, and had a good trip home. It's great to get away from everyday life and visit some place new. 
Seonaid was impressed by the hotel and the people who run it, and decided she'd like to give it a go, so this weekend we'll be going back to get her settled in the staff quarters.  I'll miss my girl dreadfully, but I'm sure she will have an amazing time working in this incredible spot.  And I'll  visit as often as I can.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It pays to be flexible when planning long weekends.  You just never know what opportunities are going to come along.  Seonaid has a few job applications in the works, and was invited to visit one place to see what it was like.  So that found us on the road Saturday afternoon, intead of in front of the TV or sewing machine.  As much as I would have loved to spend the weekend at home, I wasn't going to pass up the chance to visit a true outback pub.

We were headed for the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna, a mere 300 kilometres away, which isn't really all that far.
What makes the trip memorable is the isolation.  After Port Augusta there are only two small towns, Quorn and Hawker, and then just miles of empty landscape with the occasional sideroad leading to a homestead.
Luckily the scenery is spectacular,
and we were constantly exclaiming over the hills of the Flinders Ranges, and the ruins left behind from the 1870s.

One spot I really wanted to visit was the ruined Kanyacka homestead.
We made many trips up here when we were in high school, some with school camps but mostly with our older brother, who loves this area and has explored most of it on foot.  I wanted to see how the ruins were holding up, it's been nearly 40 years since our last visit.

They have been tidied up, and for safety's sake some have been fenced off, but overall they were the same, a monument to a time when this area was a thriving sheep station and home to 70 families.

We went down to see the sheepshed, which in the 1860's was shearing 40,000 sheep; it's hard to imagine the activity this place has seen, and the number of men who must have worked here.

We had a laugh over this sign; the poor little pictogram guy was having a bad day.
Seonaid demonstrates how to fall over in style...

Have to go to work, will be back with the rest of the photos soon.


Friday, June 10, 2011

It's yet another long weekend, this time for the Queen's birthday.  It's not actually her birthday on Monday, but we'll have the holiday anyway.  It's so nice to have that extra day off, it makes the weekend so much more enjoyable.

I finished all the Plaid blocks that I had cut out, and now I have to sew them together and decide on borders.

 I don't know where this quilt will end up, it could be a donation quilt or I might just use it myself as a utility quilt.  With two dogs that have free reign of the place I need to change out the quilts often, and they need vigorous washing.  I'm just glad our dogs are so short-haired, I'd hate to have clumps of long fur everywhere.

I'm leaning towards a couple of simple borders just to frame these blocks, and then I move on to another project all the quicker. 
I'll probably work on the Jacob's Ladder blocks that I kitted up, as I don't have a lot of space for cutting in my sewing area.  My office work has taken over all available space recently, I need to sort it all out; after I play with my kitted blocks.

Seonaid is busy cleaning up the kitchen, which is so nice to listen to.  The work is getting done, and I'm not doing it.  That's luxurious in my opinion.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

On the weekend we went for a drive in the country.  It was a lovely day, not like winter at all, and I decided it would be better spent out in the fresh air rather than locked inside working. 

\We visited a little seaside town not far away, which has an antique place I've wanted to see for a while.  It's one of those shops so full of things that it's difficult to move around in, which is just the sort of place I like.  It was every bit as interesting as I thought it would be, but there was an added bonus in the quilts that were on display.
  Unfortunately, there was so little room that I couldn't unfold these beauties to hav e a proper look at them. 
It's so nice to see antique quilts up close, something that we don't often get to do in Australia. 

I loved the fabrics in this kaleidoscope quilt,
some of them have been reprinted as reproductions and are already in my stash.  I could spend all day examining this one.
This quilt was made entirely of ties, and in a strange co-incidence another quilt like this showed up on a blog I read the very next day.  It's an interesting way to use the whole tie, and the quilt was very heavy and textured,  it felt quite luxurious.  The owner of the shop made this quilt. and she said it was very quick to do, just weaving the ties together and some straightline quilting to hold it all together.  People come up with good ideas all the time.

Another strange thing in this shop was the baby grand piano, painted green with raised Oriental motifs. 
The odd thing is that I have photos of it on my computer, so I recognised it straight away. 

Four years ago a friend took Mereth to an old Post Office in a little ghost town not far away, to see the incredible piano that was in pieces in one of the rooms. 

She sent the photos to me, and wondered how on earth such an exotic musical instrument ended up in a ruined building in an abandoned town.  I was able to go home on Sunday and tell her the next chapter of that piano's story, and how it's being renovated to it's former glory.


Sunday, June 05, 2011

When I'm really busy it's amazing how much I can achieve by using every last scrap of time.  I sewed most of these plaid blocks in my coffee breaks, or waiting on hold on the phone, or before I went to work in the mornings.

It helps that it's a simple pattern, 8 seams per block and it's done.  I've really cleared out the 3.5" strips, which was my aim.  The next step is to go through the stash drawers and weed out bits less than an eighth of a metre and cut them into more of these blocks.  It's always therapeutic to thin out the stash drawers and make room for homeless fabric.

And I have a bit of that, after succumbing to the latest free shipping offers from Hancock's.  I need to get this lot put away, but first I have to make room for it.  I'm thinking of making a plaid quilt like JulieK's, and that should clear out the drawer where  I keep my small stash of plaids and stripes.  Well that's the plan, but I could probably make 4 or 5 quilts from that drawer before they are all used up.  Anyway, it will be progress if I can fit them into a smaller drawer.

Here's a picture of Seonaid and Dolly, at the start of our walk. 
The dogs have to start out on the lead, just  to have a bit of discipline before they are let go; once the leads come off then they're off like the wind, racing each other over the expanses of grass.  It's a pleasure to watch.


Friday, June 03, 2011

My DD arrived 2 weeks ago, and there hasn't been time for any sewing or blog-related activites ever since.  It's wonderful to see her, after 4 years apart, I'm so enjoying her company.  Her neat freak tendencies are a blessing, she's organised my kitchen and bedroom, and is eyeing off my ofice area now.  So long as she shows me where everything is I don't care what she does; I'll just go along with the new system.

My sewing area is overwhelming though, so she's not tempted to touch that; with any luck I can spend a few hours in there this weekend and sort out the stacks of fabric and things that have no home.  I've been working non-stop just lately, and I need a good rummage through my things to restore my sanity.

We wondered how Dolly would react to DD Seonaid (we pronounce it Shonnad, which isn't the Gaelic pronunciation, but she's named after a friend of mine and that's how her name was pronounced).  From the moment Seonaid got out of the car Dolly was in love.  I'm just background noise now, it's all about sitting with Seonaid on the couch, or at her feet, or trying to get on her lap.  When we go for walks Dolly trots next to Seonaid, gazing up adoringly. What makes this astonishing is that Dolly is not friendly to anyone normally; after a long acquaintance she might wag her tail for other people, but she won't let anyone touch her.  She just doesn't trust other people; but Seonaid is instant family.  Tha's so cute!

I was going to add a picture or two, but it will have to wait.  I'd forgotten what it was like to have kids around; my internet usage tripled and used up all the monthly quota in a week, which means my service is slowed down, so it's taking forever to load an image; I give up.  I've gone to a higher plan, but it will only take effect from midnight tonight.  Oh well, I will spend today in the sewing room and taking photos, and tomorrow I may actually be able to load them.

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