Saturday, October 26, 2013

Today was a nice blend of work in the garden, a sewing session, and afternoon tea with a good friend who arrived bearing cupcakes. 

I was up early, and got my projects organised so I could watch the latest Quilt Cam with Bonnie while I sewed.  I love the archives of Quilt Cam; I don't panic if I miss seeing it live, because I can watch it whenever it suits me.

Dolly used to jump up and bark when she heard Bonnie's voice, but now she just opens a weary eye, snorts and goes back to sleep. 

I managed to sew several Road To Oklahoma blocks, and worked out some details on the other blocks I"m making.  I know I said something about working on the Wild Goose Chase blocks, but for some reason I felt compelled to make a trial block of another pattern that has been on my to-do list forever.  I really can't decide if it's better to stick with one thing only, or just racket around sewing a bit here and there.  I'm definitely happier if I work on multiple projects, so I will probably continue on my merry way, sewing on whatever takes my fancy.  I often feel guilty about that, but I try not to.  There aren't any rules here, it's about enjoying the whole process.

These are the colours I want to use in the new quilt,
built around this focus fabric.
 It's so much fun to start pulling fabrics at the start of a project,  it's one of my favourite parts of the whole process.  I always believe that this time I will be methodical and organised, and I believe that right up until my cutting table is covered in stacks of material, there are strips everywhere and I can't find the rotary cutter.  I live in hope that one day I'll get it right.

I was about to start cutting pieces for these blocks when I found a container full of them, along with 20 finished blocks. 
They will make good leader-enders while I work on the other blocks.  I do love this pattern, but I find myself  wondering what it would look like made with 2" strips instead; that would be awful cute.  Another idea to follow up.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ta Da!!!

 The centre is finished. 
What a huge endevour.
All the blocks are joined together, and now I have to start thinking about the next step; borders.  I want to use triangles of different prints in medium tones, and cream triangles with maybe some tiny applique motifs.  I don't intend to rush into it though, so I will just play with ideas for a while yet.  It does feel good to have got this far,  I never doubted that I would, but I didn't know it would take this long.

I can't decide which is my favourite block; maybe this one,

but I love this too.  I'd like to make a fullsize quilt with this block, it was a lot of fun to piece in this tiny size, so it will be just as enjoyable as a larger block.

Now I can clear up all the bits and pieces, organise the leftover paper and patterns, and find new uses for the plastic boxes that contained this project.
Looks like the project box won't be empty for long....
 It's Friday afternoon, the start of the weekend, and I want to start cutting lots of pieces for these Wild Goose Chase blocks, and kitting them up for a prolonged sewing session.  I feel like I've been away from the sewing machine for months, and I've got some catching up to do.

It's hard to beilieve these puppies were only three days old when I took these photos.  They are growing at an incredible rate.

This is Dozer, the first puppy,  who took three hours to arrive. 
What a head on him!  Small wonder Pips had trouble pushing that out.
No cute photos of the pup nested in a single hand; he fills two hands, and he's the heaviest of the litter by far. 

Awww! This little girl is called Sari, and she's such a sweetie. 
We spend hours just cuddling them and watching their every move.


Monday, October 21, 2013

I really should know better than to make confident statements about what I'll be doing on any particular day. Yesterday I had every intention of sewing the whole day away, until a call from Mereth sent me racing around there at midday.  A certain Pippi was in labour, and I didn't want to miss the excitement.

I can now add Puppy Midwife to my resume; I was a Piglet Midwife in the early '80s,  when I worked in several intensive piggeries.  Three years ago I watched Bonnie have the litter of pups that included Pippi, and she just popped them out one after the other.  Poor Pippi had to work so hard to produce her 5 puppies, it took three hours for the first one to arrive.  He was so pale and still I thought he was a goner, but a bit of massage and clearing his airways did the trick.  He lay on a heating pad on my lap till his colour came back.

Another pup came fairly quickly, back legs first but much more active and making a lot of noise.  The next three puppies arrived at hourly intervals and Pip dealt with them really well.  The last puppy was stuck for nearly five minutes with his nose almost out and the rest of him refusing to move forward; it was an anxious time.  He was huge, we should have weighed them all, but we were a bit preoccupied.  The whole labour took 6 hours, and I don't think Pips wants to go through anything like that again.  Luckily, we can arrange that with the vet......
Three boys and two girls, what a nice little family.

Dolly was acting like a crazy lady, wanting to get in with the puppies, rushing from one to another, trembling with excitement and determined to lick them dry.

She was so fixated on them, we had to lock her out during the last bit, we were too busy trying to help Pips and keep the puppies safe and warm and didn't need her getting in the way.  She was desolate, howled at the door and banged it.  Poor barren, childless Dolly; she's not built for motherhood, too small and fine-boned, so it was never going to happen.  She can be a good auntie though.

I came home at 8.30, got everything ready for work the next day, and went to bed.  So much for my day spent sewing and making progress.  Hijacked again, but in a good way.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

  I finally spent some significant time in my sewing room, sorting through containers, documenting projects, getting rid of scraps and leftovers.  There is still lots more to do, but I don't feel quite as overwhelmed as I did.  It's my overcutting problem that is causing all the trouble; once I'm through with a project I want to move onto the next thing straight away, but there's a mountain of leftovers to deal with.  I just shove them in yet another container and start the next quilt, but eventually the dozens of unlabelled boxes containing who-know-what drag me to a halt.  I'm not a tidy quilter, but there's a chaos level that even I can't work with.  Actually, I think my problem is that I don't take the time to label those containers, and collect all the bits from one project in a single box for sorting out later.  I just shove them out of sight.  From now on, I need to leave myself a note about what is actually in the box of bits.

There were 4 boxes of Dear Jane bits and pieces, so I decided to get the blocks sewn together this weekend.  I'm not excited to be working on it, but it's something that I will be glad about later.  I know as soon as it's in one piece I'll start obsessing about the border (I refuse to do those ugly triangles, so I'll have to come up with my own solution), but I'll deal with that later.

 I spent HOURS last night adding another 5 strips to the four that were already joined. 9 rows all in one piece!

 It took an episode of Foyle's War to get me through it; when it finished I just hit the play button again and kept on sewing.  Yes, I'm glad I'm working on it and it's getting closer to completion, but sometimes I feel quite hysterical about sewing something I'm not enthused about.  It takes a lot of willpower to just keep plugging away at it.  Especially when you sew the blocks in the wrong order, and have to rip them apart......

I'm not using cornerstones in the sashing, and to keep the blocks aligned properly I mark the long lengths of sashing, using my acrylic ruler.  The blocks are 4.5" and the sashes are .5", so I work my way along the sash drawing those marks in.
I make sure the edge of the sashing strip is lined up with the lines of the ruler, so I'm making marks exactly opposite each other.  S'cuse the lousy photo, but the light flared on the ruler so I had to place it above the strip; it's actually over the strip when I do the marking.
Then when I sew the blocks on I just have to line up the marks with the seams.  It works really well to keep all those seams aligned properly.

So, if it took a marathon effort last night to sew 5 strips of blocks to each other, how long will it take today to construct 4 rows of blocks, and then sew them into one piece?
Lots more DVDs will get me through it. And the thought of what I can sew next.
I'm thinking of revisiting these blocks, from many moons ago.  Tutorial here.  I have scraps to use up, and I need an ongoing project for that.

It's supposed to reach 36° here today, so I have to run out and water everything before I tackle the sewing chores.  When it's hot and nasty outside, I'll be inside at the machine, sewing my way closer to a finished Dear Jane.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

I'm gradually getting better, which I'm grateful for; it will be so nice when I'm back to my normal energy levels and can go for a walk without losing my breath.  Being sick is not any fun at all.

It was a rainy day yesterday, so I wasn't needed in the garden.  I tackled two projects that have been annoying me for the last two weeks.  First up was the Log Cabin, so close to completion and only needing borders. 

 I had them cut and sewn before lunch time, and I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  It was such a fun quilt to make, and the blocks were all exactly the right size.  It was like magic, I was so pleased with their accuracy. 
 I just love this big blue floral, it's the perfect border for this quilt.

After that I pulled out all the leftover plaid bits and made a backing for the plaid quilt.  This wasn't half as much fun, but it needed to be done so I can pack away the  fabric for good.  I'm sick of finding boxes of scraps everywhere, so it's all going into one container, and then into deep storage.
It's satisfying using up the little bits that would otherwise go in the bin, but I kept thinking about the time it was taking, and how I could be using that time on a new project.  I ended up using some large lengths just so I could get it done quicker, but that's all good too.  All those seams top and bottom can lead to a thick bumpy quilt,  so I've just made it a bit easier to quilt by not piecing the back heavily.

Mereth's roses are magnificent this year, and in my garden the pelargoniums are the star attraction.   I have some really beautiful ones now, and although they only flower once a year they are worth waiting for.
Every year I add one or two to the collection, but I think I've got all of them now; haven't seen a new one this season.  I'm sure there are plant breeders out there working furiously on something to tempt me next year.


Saturday, October 05, 2013

I seem to have lost a week of my life; I got really sick last Sunday, and I'm still not able to lift anything heavier than a coffee cup.  Which doesn't do much good anyway, because everything tastes like metal.  Apparently they put those warnings on potting mix bags for a reason; the stuff can make you ill.  I have antibiotics that are pulling the lung infection into line, but it's going to be a while before I feel normal again.

It's extremely annoying to be so incapacitated, because it's a long weekend and there is a ton of work to do in the garden, but I can't do more than shuffle around watering things and  making sure nothing dies.  There's no energy for digging or planting or weeding, and I won't be touching the potting mix until I have a mask to wear.

I spent time yesterday stitching on small blocks; I finally put the last stitches in the last Dear Jane block; now I need to clear the design wall and put it up there ready to assemble.

 It's taken me all year to get round to finishing this block; I wish I could say I felt a great sense of achievement, but I don't.  I don't even feel relief, just a vague sense that no-one in their right mind would ever want to make a quilt like this.  I know that feeling is temporary, and next week I'll be in love with the whole thing again.  Right now, meh....

I'm a bit tired if all the UFOs, so I dug out some tiny embroidery blocks from many years ago and worked on those.
I have no idea where this is going, but I do love buttonhole applique, and it's been fun to get more of these finished.
The pattern is one of my own, from 1996,and this is the third set of blocks I've made. The cover quilt was stolen in America, so I made another one and later sold it to a friend.  I also used the designs to embellish clothing and bags, as well as a block book to organise projects.
I can't believe I designed this 17 years ago. The designs are fairly well timeless.   I've made the pattern into a pdf, and it's up on Craftsy for sale; there's a button on the left sidebar.  $9 for 30 little patterns, is pretty good value, and cheaper than when I made it all those years ago.

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