Friday, December 28, 2012

The discussion topic today is 'Obsession: is it a good thing?'

There has been lots of lovely chat and conversations with many different friends and family over the last week, about their Christmas experiences and the families the've interacted with.  Stories about lots of wildly different people and they way they live their lives.  One lady lives to drink, plans all her holiday excursions around what will be available and how cheap, and whether she will have to travel far to get it, or if she'll be have to do some work to feed her family or be able to make them just look after themselves while she gets down to the bottle in hand.  Maybe not a good obsession.....

Another woman is fanatical about housework, won't have a thing out of place, demanding utter perfection in her house and grooming.  To the point of taking two hours to get ready to leave the house, immaculate down to the last hair.  Lots of people would think this is a good thing, but it's not for me.  So this obsession gets a tick from some people and not others.

A quilting friend announced on Boxing Day that she was working on a quilt, and added that it would be the last one, she wasn't going to make another one.  She will turn 80 very soon, and has supplied all her family with quilts for many years.  It will be an honourable retirement, but knowing her, there will always be just one more. 

My obsession?  Whatever is on my design wall.  I didn't used to be like this, but just lately I can't rest until the project up there is done, or almost done.  (I'm still on track for the DJ to be in one piece before the New Year, but it's not up on the wall anymore.)  I know I said I wanted the strippy quilt to take a little longer, but that didn't last.  I just wanted it done.

I can sew for hours at a stretch if I have something good on the TV, and my something good lately has been DVDs of Transatlantic Sessions.  They feature a mix of Celtic and Bluegrass musicians, and I just adore them.  There are five series, and we own 2, 3 and 5.  Next on the list is 1 and 4, and we'll have the complete collection.  So I've spent hours and hours in the company of Ally Bain and Jerry Douglas, and now I have a finished top.

 It demanded to be big enough for a Queen bed, which is odd since I have a double;  it looks great on the QS bed at the hall, which we use to store our customer quilts awaiting collection.  On my bed it comes all the way to the floor on both sides, but it's not too big to use.  I'm sure this quilt is destined for a QS bed somewhere, maybe not for a while; at least I won't have that pang of regret 'I wish I'd made it bigger....' What is odd is that I kept thinking, 'This will look terrible in the photo, maybe I shouldn't have added the extra strip, and maybe I should have put borders all round...'  It looks good on the bed and that should be my main concern, I can't focus on how it looks on a wall or in a photo.

I just love the way the grey, pink and shirting prints look against the green and yellow. 

I think there will be a quilt in my future with those colours predominating.  Every quilt I make sparks ideas for a new one.  At this rate I'll never be able to say 'Well that's all the quilts made'.
A customer arriving to pick up a quilt looked at my huge collection of potted roses and flowers and remarked, 'But what are you going to do with them all?'  Well enjoy them mainly.  And also pick many bunches of flowers for my kitchen table.  The Princess lillies are loving the early summer heat, as are the gerberas. I think this counts as a good obsession.

As for Dolly, she has four main obsessions; food, balls, small animals who run away and pop-up sprinklers.
These are the big sprinklers on the football ground, which throw a jet of water 50 feet or more.  She will bite at the water till she's exhausted; I have to put her on a leash and lead her away.  She gets as bloated as a tick with all the water she swallows.  This is a bad obsession, but it's funny to watch.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Being a postie at Christmas is a bit of a nightmare, especially in this age of internet shopping and mail order.  The parcels were brutal, 20 huge bags full on Monday, hundreds and hundreds of things to be delivered.

It was a quiet Christmas Day for us, as only Mereth's son Matt was here.  Somehow it seemed busier than usual.  We had a nice Christmas lunch with Matt and the dogs at my place, and watched a DVD in the afternoon.  Then it was time to drop Matt home, and go round to the brother's place for Christmas dinner.   I came home from there around 9.30 ,and I was too tired to do anything more than sleep.
 This morning I had to catch up on email and work stuff, then it was time to go to friends for lunch, and we had a thoroughly lovely time.  The weather is beautiful, perfect for sitting in their back garden and chatting for hours on end.  It was very relaxing.  Now it's time to get ready for an evening meal with Liz and John, who are on their way home from Adelaide.  I have had only an hour or two to spend alone, the socialising has been great, but means there has been no sewing taking place.  And it's back to work tomorrow, delivering all the parcels that didn't make it in time for Christmas.

Only two more work days, and then we get a four day weekend.  I hope to get the green and yellow quilt in one piece, and most of the Dear Jane assembled.  I'm aiming to have both done by New Year's Eve, which is entirely possible.  I've started putting the strips together on the design wall, and it should be easy sewing.

 Next two strips are prepped and ready to go..... I really love that pink and green and grey combination, I would like to tackle a quilt in those colours.

And then there will be a collossal clean up of the sewing area.  The place is full of scraps, and I'm not in the mood to be dealing with them.  Mereth's going to get the whole lot I think.

And she won't complain a bit.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, and that there are relaxing times for all of us between now and the New Year.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

I'm steaming ahead on the pieced strips, and even though I've tried to slow down the end is in sight.  This was a lovely quick pattern to sew, and no agonising over colour placement.  I could have made the strips a lot scrappier, but I wasn't in the mood for that, I just wanted to use up the strips I'd cut. I love the colours in this quilt, and I don't think it suffers from not being too scrappy.  I have only half of one row to do and then it's time to put all the strips together, which will go fairly quickly too. 

For those who want to try this pattern, the strips are cut 3" wide, and I strip pieced them so that I could slice it into 3" sections.  The triangles at the end of each strip are made by cutting a 5.5" square and cutting it diagonally twice.  The triangles are oversize, but I just trimmed off the excess as I sewed them.

 When the strips are sewn togethere there is extra green fabric floating the squares, which helps if you need to even up the edges of the strips later. 
You won't be cutting off the points of any squares.  And as a green strip will be sewn to each edge, it will all just blend in anyway.

I took a photo of the end of the strip so you can see how easy it is.

 I'll put a green triangle on each of the corners later, but that will be the work of seconds.  I'm more interested in getting all the major construction done first and I'll attend to the details at the end.

It's 42 degrees C (107 degrees F) here today, just horrible.  On Friday everywhere we went people were talking about the weather forecast for today, about how hot and windy it was going to be and how we'd all have to take care to stay inside and stay cool.  Once upon a time we didn't have such accurate predictions, so it was always a nasty shock when the temperature climbed to these silly levels.  I much prefer knowing in advance, so I can be prepared, and can get the garden battened down.  And now, having finished the last customer quilt for the year, I'm going into my air-conditioned sewing room to really make some progress.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The pieced strips in this quilt grow quickly, I have one finished already, and the other five are more than half done. 

I think I procrastinated about making this quilt for so long because I knew it would go together very quickly, and it would be finished only be a matter of days after I decided to start it.  I'm stretching the sewing out a bit, I don't want it over too soon.  Some quilts go together so quickly I have no memory of making them, and I don't want that to happen with this one.

I love sewing these strip set together, it's fast and easy and I can watch the TV while I sew.  The 3" strips are fun to work with after the 3/4" ones in some of the DJ blocks.

I'm trying to formulate a few pre-New Year's Eve resolutions, things to be working at before the end of the year arrives.  I want the DJ in one piece, which is totally feasible.  I would like this strip quilt top finished, again, totally do-able.  I want my sewing room restored to order; that's a bit of a tall order, but a single night of determined sorting would make a huge difference to the mess.  I have DVDs, and red wine; it could be a lovely way to spend an evening.

And I would like the UFOs all in one spot, and catalogued so I know what is there.  It's all a big jumble now, and I have no idea what I could work on next, ot what is close to completion.  I need a list, and a rough outline of what to do next for each project.

I like the idea of working my way to the end of the year, trying to make every day count towards my goals, instead of coasting along with the attitude that I'll see out the year and then make a fresh start.  I could be in a much better place with my projects in two weeks time, if I just apply myself.  Mereth and I won't have anyone here for Christmas or Boxing Day, so we'll be able to do exactly as we please, which sort of compensates for the lack of family.  Sort of....... but not entirely.  Where's that red wine?


Saturday, December 15, 2012

I packed away the Dear Jane blocks,clearing the design wall and allowing something else to be put up there.  I was so excited to see the blank wall that I went a little mad, sewing haphazardly on three different projects without waiting to tidy away the debris scattered over every surface.  I sewed like a crazy woman for two hours, then sat down and ironed it all and debated about what to concentrate on first.

In the centre of that lot are 35 grey and shirting fourpatches for Bonnie's Easy Street mystery, which Mereth asked me to make about three weeks ago.  Done now.  

There's another 6 of these green and cream blocks to add to the pile.  I only have three kits left of them, so I will have to rustle some more up to use as leader-enders.  I have no idea what to do with these blocks, but I'll investigate setting possibilities in EQ7 soon.  They are still fun to make, but the controlled colour scheme is so boring (yawn).

I remembered my 16patches from last year, so I made another 6 of them, and sewed up the strips for a lot more.  They are so easy and cute, but.....   Maybe they'd be even cuter if they were smaller; strip set of 1" finished strips included for comparison.  Maybe too small; might just have to try 1.25" finished and see if that's the perfect size.  I'm very Goldilocks in my approach to designing.

The basket of fabric that I referred to as a Kit was in fact nothing more than a lot of fabric thrown in haphazardly, with a few strips cut and a lot of green triangles.  And a couple of pieced bits that I'd tried for size ( see Goldilocks comment above)  

The quilt I'm aiming to repoduce is this one, and copying it has been on my list for more than 10 years. I bought it on Ebay, from a very concientious seller.  I paid $37 for it, and then she emailed me that she was so ashamed of it's condition that she couldn't sell it to me.  I protested hotly that I wanted it anyway.  When it arrived, there was a cheque for $15 in with it, to assuage her guilt at me having paid so much for such a rubbish quilt.  It has some stains and a few worn spots, but it's still lovely, and totally worth what I paid for it.

I'm strip piecing the rows, so it will go very quickly, and the strips are cut 3" wide, which seems enormous after the Dear Jane blocks.  This is my progress so far;  

I might put an extra row in, and it might be black and pink, or it might be grey and pink.  My onboard computer will process that while I work on the other rows.

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