Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I'm having trouble with my internet dropping out all the time, so while it's functioning I will quickly add this post.

We are trying to track down the names of the ranges that these fabrics belong to; I received them as part of a shop-made charm pack, but I can't recall where I got them.  If I have the names of the ranges I can have a shot at tracking them down.

The first one is most preferred for sashing a set of blocks that are made, just patiently waiting for the right setting fabric to materialise.

Both the swatches below are nice pinks that would fit into the stash, even if they won't work with the set of blocks.

Any ideas?
and by the way, I have removed that rediculous verification thingy on the comments, couldn't be doing with that.


Friday, March 16, 2012

For such a big box, there wasn't much actually in there!  More packing than product.
I like the new dies, with the two tone foam; you can see immediately what they are, and where to position the fabric.

I've been wanting this 1" die for ages, I have two quilt projects that require 1" HSTs, and I wasn't keen on having to cut the hundreds needed.

It's really hard on my eyes sometimes, and knowing how important accuracy is with these tiny pieces I kept putting it off.  There won't be an excuse now, this die will make short work of them.  I can even cut them from spare strips in the 2" scrap drawers, which will help whittle that fabric down to a manageable level.

I also bought a 3.25" square die; it works with 2.5" HSTs to form a square-in-square block that measures 4" finished.

Nice, but I actually wanted it so I could cross-cut the squares diagonally and make these little Hourglass units.  That worked perfectly as well, so I'm super happy about that. I managed to use a square in that Ohio Star block that wasn't square at all, I don't know whether to unpick it and replace it, or just chuck the thing in the orphan box the way it is.  Work of seconds to fix it, but do I really care?  I'll probably fix it, just not now.

I haven't had time to play with this die yet, but I have plans. 
This will work with the 2" finished HST die, and there are a lot of block patterns that can use this shape.I just don't have time to experiment right now.

I really like that fact that these dies work so well with each other, I can have a pile of pieces just waiting to be built into blocks any way I choose.

I like these Bird In Air blocks, they can be built into so many patterns, and now I can cut the pieces for them and stockpile them.  I have the 1, 1.5,  2, 3 & 4" HST dies, so I can make units that measure 2, 3 or 4" finished.  I can't wait to tackle my strip drawers and get busy on these blocks.  That won't be any time soon though, I have way too many other things on the go......


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It was a hot day yesterday, summer's last hurrah, I guess.  I know true autumn weather isn't far away, I just have to be patient a few more days.  It will be fun to start knitting again, and I finally managed to win an Ebay auction for a drum carder, so I can prepare my fleece for spinning more easily.  I need a lot more hours in the day.

This morning I picked up a huge package from Accuquilt, containing new dies, so I will be playing with those for the rest of the day.  I can't even remember what I ordered, so it will be interesting when I unpack it.

Yesterday was frantically busy, but I managed to get another of these little blocks sewn. 
I'm trying to get the darker grey triangles to stand out, I don't want that light star effect to be prominent, but it seems like that's all I see when I look at it. 
I will have to experiment with lower contrast fabrics in the four large triangles, and that will mean going through the stash and adding some more fabrics into the mix.  That's one of my favourite parts of making a quilt, and I've recently tidied up the stash, so I shouldn't have any problems finding what I want.  Unless I've tidied everything so ruthlessly that I can't find anything anymore, which has happened in the past.

These blocks finish 5.5" square, not very big at all, but I want to make a heap of them, and set them on point, with sashing, and multiple borders, but I don't want it to be a huge quilt.  So I have to start with a small block, to keep the final measurements under control.  Again, I've had trouble with that in the past, when I've been completely surprised  at the size of a finished quilt.  I'm trying to be aware, and EQ7 certainly helps in that regard.  The quilt as I originally drew it, with 8.5" blocks, ended up as 120" wide; good thing I hadn't already started cutting. 

Like Judy, I'm a great fan of Electric Quilt, it's wonderful for planning, and so easy to keep track of final measurements, and all those 'what-if' variations. 


Monday, March 12, 2012

I managed to get something done today. mainly cutting pieces for the leader-ender blocks.  I badly wanted to sew instead, but I made myself stick to the cutting.  It will make life much easier to have these blocks kitted up and ready to go.

I have 18 of the little cross blocks kitted, and lots of setting triangles for the simple album blocks.
 It will be fun to get started on these, even if it is only a seam here and there between other sewing.  The blocks mount up so quickly, it's like magic.

This evening I want to put a movie on the TV and iron all this fabric. 
 Last year I splashed out and bought a tower of Barbara Brackman's Battle Hymn, and it's gorgeous stuff, and there's so much of it!  The subdued colours are just what I want in my next quilt; I'll iron it all ready for cutting, and that will be the job for this week.  We'll have a big work day tomorrow, there will be piles of mail after the long weekend, but hopefully I'll be able to make a start in the afternoon.

This is the block I'll be making,
 I can't find out the proper name of it, closest I've found is a Variable Star variation; not very catchy.  I'll keep looking, or just invent something.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

It's the last day of a long weekend  here, and I mean to make the most of it.  I have a customer coming to pick a quilt up at 10, but the res of the day is mine and I want to spend it in the sewing room.

On Saturday we went to Clare, a larger town about an hour away, to visit the patchwork shop in search of the right setting fabric (no luck).  We had lunch in a pub, and wandered through a few shops, so it was a lovely outing anyway.

Yesterday I continued the tidying, and tried to sort out the blocks I made as leader-enders while I was sewing the crosspatch blocks.

I amassed quite a few of the smaller cross blocks, and when I ran out of pieces for those I started making ninepatches from 2.5" squares, and then turned them on point, an idea shamelessly pinch from Mereth.  Lots of seams in these, so they are excellent as leader-enders.

Both of these blocks threaten to take over as major projects, so I need to be strong and keep them under control. I also need to make sure that I have lots of pieces ready to use, so I tried to cut heaps of pieces and bagged them up.  I'm itching to get started on them, but I know if I do I'll be scratching around for something, anything to sew at the end of a seam, so I'm going to be good.

The tiny block at the top is a test for the next major quilt I want to make, just to make sure the measurements are correct, and they are, so I will start pulling fabric for them soon, how exciting.

My TV in the sewing room is proving very useful as a way of keeping me working; I'm addicted to the Adele at the Albert Hall DVD, which Elisa gave to Liz for Christmas.  We watched it at their palce, and I loved it so much that Seonaid bought me a copy too.  What a voice!  I don't know what my elderly neighbours think of her language, hopefully they can't hear it.....

After our trip to drop Macca at the vet on Wednesday, Matt and I stopped to pick apples from two trees by the side of the road. 
They were absolutley loaded, we had six shopping bags full, and a few other containers as  well.  He juiced the ones with spots and blemishes, and has 20 litres of cider brewing, and we are eating the good ones.  I wish supermarket apples tasted this good.  An apple tea cake is in my future sometime soon.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Work continues on Project Clean Up; once I'd sorted out the various sizes of strips, put all the precut squares and triangles in their respective containers, refolded the fabric and returned it to the shelf and gathered the odd scraps into a box there was actually a table to be seen.

 I need time to sit and plan a few things to sew next, but tomorrow will be busy from dawn to dusk; we'll be at work from 7 - 10am, then it's off to Jamestown to take Macca to the vet, home to get some urgent quilting done, back to pick Macca up, then home for a short while and then out to tea at the pub.  And some garden time in there as well, we still need to water every second day.

Today I tested my oven by baking two batches of scones.  In our family Mereth has always been the scone specialist, with good reason.  She makes superb scones, whereas the nicest thing anybody ever said about mine was that they were edible.  They wouldn't actually kill you, but you'd regret them for hours afterwards.  When the kids were little they suffered through years of dismal offerings, until DD Seonaid was forced to cry 'Not scones Mummy! Please not scones!' when I said I'd make something for afternoon tea.  So, in the interests of public safety, I gave up.

My DB Doug loves scones with something approaching fanatacism, and Mereth was getting tired of keeping up the supply, so I thought 'How hard can it be?'  It's not hard to make them, but they don't always turn out wonderful.

These weren't too bad, some of them have that perfect cracking around the middle, which marks a good scone, so they just break in half without needing a knife.  My oven seal needs to be replaced though,  the heat is uneven, resulting in some uneven rising and browning, but I'm just grateful they look like they should, and taste OK.  I've made far worse.  As Phyllis Diller said, they should make an oven that flushes.

A friend once told me the story of her mother's last days in hospital, how she had sat with her mum, caring for her, helping with what had to be done, making conversation, cherishing the moments.  When the end was near, her mum gestured to her to come closer, she needed to tell her something.  My friend leant over, took her mum's hand and waited.  Her mother hissed, "You shouldn't knead scones, that's why yours are so awful".

The recipe is
2 cups Self Raising flour
1/3 cup ( or less) icing sugar
1/2 cup of cream, with water or lemonade added to make 1 cup of liquid
1 teaspoon baking powder

Heat oven to 220 degrees C
Sift dry ingredients, add liquid, mix lightly with  a butter knife to form a soft but not sticky dough; form into a ball on a floured surface, pat out to 1" thick and cut with a floured 2" cutter.  Place on baking paper on an oven tray,  brush tops with milk.  Bake 12 minutes or until lightly browned and the scone sounds hollow when tapped on it's bottom.

Just make sure you don't knead the dough.....


Monday, March 05, 2012

The last week just vanished, there was so much happening.  DD Seonaid came to stay for two days, which was fun, and we spent lots of time with Mereth's No.1 son John and his partner Liz.  It's lovely to have so much family time, for ages we were all so far apart that we didn't see each other often.  Our get-togethers are lovely.

I will be able to get back in the sewing room very soon, being caught up on my work.  First chore is a big cleanup, as I created havoc during my last frenzied effort.

 I need to tot up what I've bought this year, I fear it's around the 30m mark at least.  I have plans for a ruthless thinning of the stash, mainly so I can fit all the new stuff in. 

I've been so busy this last week that I didn't have time to go through the latest parcel properly; I'm going to have a good old rummage this afternoon.

I caved and bought a small TV for the sewing room, so I can watch DVDs while I sew.  I was going to just cart the laptop around and watch the DVDs on that, but I really can't afford to drop it as all my work stuff is on it; better to have a cheap TV and leave the computer safely on the desk. (Safe!! I've spilt two cups of coffee on it recently, I'm becoming klutzoid.  Amazingly there seem to be no ill effects, even though the first mishap saw the keyboard totally inundated and coffee running out of the bottom.  It's a good thing I don't take milk or sugar, it's just black water really.)

 The TV needed a cabinet, so I bought one in a box and set about putting it together.  I've noticed something odd about Dolly; I call it Construction Anxiety. 
Whenever I put together flat-pack furniture, like IKEA stuff, she tries to sit in between me and what I'm working on, twines herself about my feet, climbs into my lap when I'm on the floor, sits on the pieces waiting to be assembled, whines and begs and pleads 'Don't Do This, Pleeese!  It's not safe, I don't like it...'
 Sorry sweetie, it will take more than this to stop me buying DIY furniture.

It's lovely, lovely autumn weather!  Cool and cloudy and kind, it makes me want to put on my walking shoes and go.  On Saturday we went to Port Broughton again, and walked the dogs on a deserted beach south of the town. 
We all had a wonderful time, and then had fish & chips for tea again.  The battered fish was excellent, beautifully done.  It's great to find a place that does simple food very well.

Afterwards we walked to the end of the jetty and watched the sunset, and the gulls, and the swallows flitting over the water.
 It was perfectly beautiful.

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