Friday, March 27, 2020

It's so hard to post.  When I'm with the family there is very little time in which I can gather my thoughts, write something uninterrupted and then find a photo to go with it. I've been home twice since Finn was born, and when I'm at home I play catch up with work and chores, and when I sit down to write something I find myself constantly saying 'I can't write that, or people won't be interested in that, or that just sounds like whinging'. But I'm going to write it all, and then hopefully I won't have to revisit it, and I can just talk about other things.

I've been staying at Shonny's to help with Finn.  He's not a happy baby.  He doesn't settle after a feed, he's constantly congested, which makes drinking hard for him, he's always getting his breathing and swallowing out of sync and chokes and has to be patted on the back until he can breathe again.  Then he's even more distressed, and he's even more out of sync so it happens again. Sometimes he vomits his whole feed up, and then he's starving and tries to drink too fast and.... It's a terrible cycle for him.  He's seen two doctors and a community nurse, and all they care about is his weight gain, so they think he's fine.  But he's in pain from colic and gas all the time, he doesn't sleep like a newborn should, and it's wearing the whole family down.  He needs so much attention; he does better if he's kept upright, so we hold him for much of the time, which is OK when there's an adult for him and one for the other kids; when I'm home and Hayden is at work it means Shonny has to cope with the whole household while trying to feed and comfort Finn.

Some of Finn's discomfort could be an allergy to cow's milk protein in Shonny's milk, so she's given up dairy to see if it makes a difference.  Thomas had a terrible reaction to cow's milk protein as well, he ended up on a goat milk formula at 12 months old, so it very well could be Finn's problem too.  In a way I hope it is, because we can fix that.  Unfortunately Shonny won't be able to have lattes or cheese or sour cream, but it would be worth it for a happy baby. If it improves his breathing so he's not always struggling to get air through his nose that would be a huge benefit. Shonny will try and feed him as long as she can, because he's stacking on the weight anyway, and antibodies from her are important at this time, but he may end up on an allergy formula if there's no improvement.  We just want a solution for him.

I don't think there is going to be a 'new normal' for quite some time.  If Finn wasn't so little, and so unsettled, I would hunker down here at home and wait it out.  Shonny and I would do video calls so the kids could talk to me, and we'd get by.  But Finn needs so much attention, and so does Thomas, and Isla is missing out, so I feel like I need to be there to help.  If/when Finn  is not in so much distress, and sleeps for longer periods, I will come home, but for now my presence makes a huge difference.  I wouldn't find any solace in unlimited sewing time knowing that my family was doing it tough without me.


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Strange New World

We live in interesting times.  It's hard to know what to expect from one day to the next.  Here in South Australia there are 50 confirmed COVID-19 cases, all of them related to travel, or contact with an overseas traveller.  And no cases in regional SA, which is good for those of us who live outside the city.

I feel like I've been in isolation anyway, looking after the baby, and Thomas, and helping Shonny's family any way I can.  I left the house 3 times in 3 weeks, so my contact with others has been minimal.  I've been home for a few days now, and have only gone out to have coffee with a friend and to collect the mail. In one way it's a very limiting lifestyle, but in other ways it's a bonus.  I can get very distracted from things I should be doing, and now those distractions can't happen.  So I can just stay at home and work on things that need to be done.

Alas, that means my taxes, but I've almost finished, and they'll be done before the last minute for a change.  Once the paperwork is finished, I want to move into the workroom and really start quilting.  There is a backlog of customer quilts, so I'll tackle that as soon as I can, and then get back to prepping the stack of donation tops so they can be done quickly. We could do with another roll of batting, so that might get ordered next week.  It would be terrible to have all this time at home and run out of quilting supplies!

I've had a chest and head cold for 2 weeks, brought home and shared by Hayden.  He's convinced it's The Corona Virus, but he's just being alarmist.  I'm in 2 high risk groups, I'm over 60 and I have chronic lung disease, so if I had COVID-19 I think I'd be pretty well incapacitated, and I'm not. It's a sobering thought though, that there is no safe time for me until they develop a vaccine, or a drug to mitigate the symptoms.  As much as I love solitude, I would find it difficult to self-isolate for 18 months!

I'm still sewing on the Japanese Cross blocks, I'm up to 24. I've added a lot more lighter greys to the mix ,and it's looking better. I have no idea how I'm going to put them together, the seams won't nest nicely, and I'm not looking forward to mashing all those seam allowances flat.  I really should have thought the pressing sequence through before I made so many.  There's always a tiny sashing as an option, so that will be in the back of my mind as I complete the rest of the blocks.

It's my favourite time of the year, waiting for the cool weather to become the norm, and autumn flowers to appear, and getting out my winter clothing that I absolutely love.  I'm never sorry to say goodbye to summer; I just hope that the cool weather doesn't mean more colds and flu for me. I need to stay healthy so I can keep visiting those grandkids.


Sunday, March 08, 2020

2 days isn't a lot of time, but I tried to spend it catching up on chores at home, as well as catching up with friends.  And I managed to fit in a little bit of sewing time late at night.

I'm up to 20 of these blocks now, and I'm going to have to add a lot of lighter fabrics so it doesn't get too dark and heavy looking.  The blocks are 10", and I was thinking of 30 blocks and then a simple border to make it about 60" x 70".  That means I have to lighten up the fabrics in all of those 10 next blocks; I'll have to go through the stash again and pull out all the light greys and greens I rejected in the first place. I really have to work hard on modern quilts, learning how to manage unfamiliar colours and prints.  I'm quite at home with my repro fabrics, but there's a learning curve with anything else.

It's a lot of fun tho, and I'm whittling down several areas of my stash that I've been hoarding for a while. The danger is that when I next go shopping I'll buy fabric to fill in the gaps and I'll replace everything I've used up. I think I need to put a freeze on the fabric buying till I can sort out whether I need a modern stash at all.
My 1800s repro fabrics are calling..... 


Saturday, March 07, 2020

A few hours after that last blog post I was in the car on my way to Adelaide; the baby was on the way, and I was needed for baby-sitting duty.   All went well, and our beautiful boy arrived at 10.30 at night.

His name is Finn, and we think he's adorable, of course. He came home from the hospital the next afternoon, and Thomas was enchanted with him.  He climbed onto the couch, stuck out his arms and said 'BABY!' He held Finn's hand and talked to him so gently, we were all really proud of him.

Alas, when the baby was 2 days old Thomas developed Hand, Foot & Mouth for the second time, and he was a very sick little boy.  Seonaid couldn't touch him in case she passed it on to Finn, so she had to stay in her bedroom listening to Thomas crying in pain, while Hayden and I tried to make things  better for him.  I think we held him for 4 days straight, taking turns to comfort him. It was traumatising for everyone. I've never seen anything like the blisters all over him, down his throat, all over the soles of his feet, and most of his body, even in his ears. We even had him tested for chicken pox, but that was negative thank goodness.  Just very severe H, F & M.
Yesterday he started to recover his spirits, the blisters had healed and he was allowed to go near the baby again.

Wow that was a hectic time, one I hope we never have to repeat. I've taken the opportunity to come home for two days, and then I'll go back for babysitting next week, until Finn is more settled into a routine. And I have to catch up on some Isla time, I feel like she missed out when I was so preoccupied with Thomas.

Finn is a long skinny drink of water, which he's doing his best to rectify.  
The visiting Community Nurse had to double check her figures because he's stacked on an incredible amount of weight at 9 days old. He's almost lost that newborn look, getting a little double chin, and a plumper face. I'm hoping that everyone stays healthy and they can move smoothly into being a 7-person family.....


Monday, February 24, 2020

Pastel baby quilt

This is the last finish from the sewing room for a while, I'm off to Adelaide on Wednesday, and I'm staying until the new baby arrives and the family is settled into a routine.  Thomas is going to have a big adjustment to make, seeing HIS mum with another baby.  I think he'll love the new baby, and I'm hoping that his dad and I can lesson the shock by being there for him whenever he needs cuddles, but he's only 20 months old.  He's still a baby himself in lots of ways, and he's always been a mummy's boy.  I've looked after him ever since he was born, sometimes for months on end, and yet he was nearly a year old before he would come to me for a cuddle when he was upset.  It was Mum or nothing.  I was so relieved when he finally accepted me as a substitute mum.

The Spinning Rectangles block is so quick and easy, it's our go-to block for donation quilts.  I started making these 4.5" x 2.5" ones, and thought the pieces were too large for the fabrics I wanted to use.  Now I'm making the other quilts with the smaller 3.5" x 2" rectangles, but I had to make enough of the bigger ones to complete a top.  I decided it would be too much white in the setting triangles, so I used a white fabric with a pink design.

The lilac border fabric is 30 years old, I'd already owned it for several years before I used it for Shonny's kindy clothes, and she's 33 now.  It's a nice pale border for this delicately coloured quilt.

I'm cutting more of these blocks, I think some site called them a Japanese Cross, so that's what I"ll call them.
I'm using up charm squares for the diagonal cross, but I may have to find some yardage to use soon.  I've really been using up the charm squares lately, which is a good thing.

And I cut all the scraps from the other quilts into 2.5" strips and I'm making a low volume baby quilt from 2.5" squares and 2.5" x 4.5" bricks.
I've started 7 new quilts this year, but already finished four. What a strange start to the year.


Saturday, February 22, 2020

Floral Stars

My fourth finish for the year! My Floral Stars were inspired by Mereth's quilt.

The fabrics in this are mostly very old, some dating back 15-18 years. Lots of pale green and yellows, pale pinks and lilacs.  Some of them are really pretty, and I love them, but they've spent at least a decade in my stash, and it's time to move them on.  The photo looks a bit hectic, but it's pretty in real life, and I imagine some little girl will enjoy it.
I still have a few of those black florals left, so I'm continuing to make the flying geese units.  I have a whole drawer of pretty blue fabric, and I'd like to make another one like this but with blue or green sashes.  It hardly took any time to make the 20 blocks, so they can be my leader-enders while I work on a boy quilt.

I'm really enjoying working on these donation quilts, but I need to go back to some of my own quilts that have deadlines. It's nice to be so enthusiastic, and to be having such fun with my stash.


Friday, February 21, 2020

Ohio Star progress

Before I covered my sewing room in pastel fabric I knew that I had to try and clean up the mess from the quilts I  was currently working on.  So I sewed like a maniac and got the Ohio Stars in one piece, just to get it out of the way.  While I was searching through my stash for material for the donation quilts I came across a piece of shirting that I thought would be perfect for the sashing.  It was, so I cut the whole lot up and sewed the blocks together in a few nights.

It wasn't without incident.  I often cut the sashing fabric into strips the width of the blocks, and then crosscut them into the sashing width.  This usually makes better use of the fabric, and I like it better than cutting 40 or so 1.5" strips.  I didn't have any to spare, so I couldn't use the GO Cutter.  Anyway, I was congratulating myself that I had cut the 6.5" strips I needed, and had just enough fabric leftover to make a spare 1.5" strip.

Alas, I'd cut one strip at 6" instead.  So that was 28 sashing pieces that were too short!!  That was a fun moment.  Don't cut things late at night, I told myself. I'd already googled the fabric and knew that it was from a Jo Morton range about 5 years ago, so no chance of getting any more.  I did  the only thing I could, which was sew those pieces into a big long strip, and recut at 6.5".  It didn't look too bad, and I spread the pieced sashes throughout the quilt to help disguise them.
It was hanging on the workroom wall and Mereth took over the border scraps from my Charm Square 9patch and said, "You have to use this as the border". And I agree.  I'm not trying to mitre that print though, it gave me fits last time, so I'll put a block in the corner. And there will be a mid blue spacer border all round.

I will definitely make more Ohio Stars, maybe in different colours, because I just love putting the blocks together.  There are so many antique examples for inspiration, I'm sure I'll have another one under way before too long.

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