Thursday, June 25, 2020

Life has settled down to a routine of 3 days in Adelaide, and 4 days at home, unless there's a need for me to help out longer with the grandkids.  I'm loving the time spent with them, and because I'm there to babysit it means that Shonny doesn't have to take the kids with her when she does the shopping and runs errands.  Thomas is not a fan of grocery shopping, and Finn hates his baby capsule with a passion; he's big enough to graduate to a car seat now, so that will help his attitude.  It's much nicer not to have to deal with screaming kids on every outing though.

I've been sewing and planning and starting new things when I'm home, which is fun but has left my sewing room in a shocking mess.  Every time I leave for  Adelaide I just turn off the lights and vow to deal with the shambles next time I'm home. And then I just jump right back into sewing or cutting out more things.
But last Tuesday, when I arrived home, I realised that I'd neglected things so badly that I was unable to begin anything at all.  The only thing I could do was to clean up, put away the piles of fabric all over the tables, ironing boards and floor, scrape up the fabric trimmings that had missed the bin, empty the bins, organise the cut pieces for all the new projects I'd started, and deal with the mountain of scraps that completely covered every surface.  A couple of weeks ago I actually set up another cutting table because I couldn't get to the first one, so there were two tables covered in scraps and offcuts. What a disaster zone.

So my time home this week has been spent on boring old cleaning up, but it will be worth it.  There were so many layers of fabric, dating back to tops I finished in February, that I'd never put away, or dealt with the scraps.  I was a bit appalled really, that I'd been so lazy, but it's been hectic ever since Finn was born, and then the months I spent in lockdown in Adelaide. I will try to be better in future.

I'm planning a quilt with 2" x 4" bricks, so I cut those first. I ended up with a heap of squares as well, which I'm not thrilled about, but I'll find something to do with them. I also cut heaps of 2" strips, they're my favourite size strip to work with.

Of course there were the small scraps that I could only get a narrow strip out of, and I could have thrown them away, but I'll just store them till I get time to play.  I've made two quilts out of 1.25" strips already, and Mereth is making a Log Cabin from 1" strips that is adorable. I'm in a saving mood right now.

It took two days and nights to sort out the scraps, decide what shapes and sizes I should cut, cut and organise  all those shapes, and then put all the pieces away. I'm glad I perservered though, I now have the 
bulk of 2 new tops cut out, and I'm ready to get back to the sewing machine and start making progress again.

Because I'm a good sister (and I'm sick of scraps) there is a basket of bits to go to Mereth.  She loves getting my offcuts, and I love getting rid of them.


Sunday, June 07, 2020

I stayed up late one night and got the borders onto this quilt, and I didn't even have to bully myself into it.  It was nice to cross it off the list, once and for all.

It turned out much bigger than I expected, 82 x 92". I usually aim for 70 x 80" quilts, but then I add two borders and before you now it the quilt has grown 12".  I never learn. This is the 8th top finished this year, and I think my goal of 20 tops in 2020 is still achievable

I enjoyed making this top so much that I think I will cut out another one, but with the lights and darks reversed. It's a great scrap buster, and while I've tamed the strip drawers, there are still baskets of scraps waiting to be cut up.  I have plenty of material for another one.

I spent the last two weeks at home, winding up the shop; it was the last day of trading yesterday.  When the new shop is ready we'll be back in business, but for now I'm free to stay at home and work on quilting and putting the house to rights.  But it's back to the city on Friday for Thomas's 2nd birthday. He's growing up so quickly! At least we have Finn for our baby cuddles.


Thursday, June 04, 2020

I haven't been in a blogging mood lately.  I've been sewing, but I don't have anything finished yet.  I just want to move on and start something new, instead of finishing borders. Ordinarily I would bully myself into it, but even my inner bully is off her game.  So I'm being nice to myself, and just pootling around doing what I feel like.

We're in the middle of a big shake up at our shop.  We've been offered a smaller, better appointed place, so we'll be moving later in the year, and another business is moving into our space. With that in mind, and the fact that there aren't a lot of travellers and buyers around in this pandemic, we're shutting up shop until we can move into the new one.  We're having a big sale, everything has been discounted, and we're being quite ruthless because we don't want to have to shift all the stock home, and then bring it back to the new shop.  I'm quite looking forward to not having the responsibility of manning the shop when I'm home from  Adelaide; we were shut for 9 weeks, and  that felt like a holiday. Monday will be our last day, and then I can stay home with a clear conscience, and maybe get some quilting done.

I don't now why my scraps derail me the way they do.  The 2.5" ones were really annoying me, so I sat down and sorted them into colours, and tried several patterns to hopefully use all of them up entirely.

There were some strange repro squares and strips that I always reject when I'm choosing strips. They were sewn together into a doll quilt, which was a good way to get them out of the drawers.

The mid blue and mid brown ones became 25-Patch blocks.  I think I have 30 of those.

Rather than choose a sashing fabric I moved immediately on to the dark brown and neutral strips.  I came up with a pattern that had a place for dark brown squares, neutral bricks and squares, and pastel squares.  It's sort of like a Garlic Knot, but with an extra row.

I got completely carried away with cutting them out, and did 50 blocks instead of the 42 I needed.  It was a lovely block to work on, and I can see me making more of them in the future. There are many ways to set them together, so I can see myself having fun with that.
Plus there's these simple blocks that are all over the internet right now. Mine are going to be a low volume baby quilt, sewn as a leader-ender.
I have about 4 other quilts started, but I haven't organised photos of them just yet, too busy with other things. I'll do a stocktake of projects soon, write them into my spreadsheet and make EQ8 files for them. Then maybe I'll have a handle on what needs to be done.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Wow, 7 weeks have gone by in a flash, and I spent most of that time with the family in Adelaide.  I managed 2 five-day visits home though, so I have quilt progress to report.

The Japanese Cross quilt is finished and in the quilting queue.  I like how it turned out, and those seam allowances weren't too bad to deal with. Of course there were leftover pieces, and they became another donation quilt.
It needs a border, which will probably be the same grey green as the Japanese Cross, and then that can be added to the tally of finished tops for this year.

I've been jumping all over the place in the sewing room,emptying scrap drawers and cutting up  smaller lengths of fabric, trying to get everything put away where it should be.  It's going to take a lot more effort to get things sorted; I'm dealing with months of neglect, and I've added to the stash, so I'm not sure if the fabric will even have a home.  

Mereth found me another stack of the drawers we use for our fabric, so some of the overflow will be housed there. Of course this size drawer is no longer available, which made this op-shop find so much sweeter. They are just the right size for 2 rows of FQs, the newer drawers are smaller, or much deeper, which is just wasted space as far as FQs go.Here in Australia we don't have so many resources for storage products.
It was much easier when I just had a reproduction stash.  Now I have moderns, pretties, Kaffe, batiks and solids as well. Plus all my vintage fabric and flannel.  It's a challenge to get it organised so that I can find stuff when I need it.  But I think that challenge is keeping my mind occupied, and helping me deal with all the stresses of life in a pandemic.  Here in South Australia we have no active cases, our borders are closed, and restrictions are set to be lifted at the end of the week. So I feel pretty safe now, but we can't go on being cut off from the rest of Australia and the world.

These little darlings are definitely keeping me focused on the important things right now.
Everyone is happy and healthy,  Finn had tongue tie surgery last month, and is a much happier little boy.  He's sleeping through the night, at 3 months, which we think is pretty amazing, and has continued his spectacular weight gains. Isla went back to kindy, with no drama.  Thomas continues to be his rambunctious self, and is busy earning his nickname of "Biggest 1-year-old in the World".  He's grown out of most of his size 2 clothes, and will have to have a winter wardrobe of size 3s. Here's hoping Finn gets to wear some of the clothes that his big brother grew out of so quickly.

I will probably settle back into the same routine as last year, spending 2 or 3 days a week in Adelaide to help out, and the rest of the time at home. I need to spend time just sitting in my sewing room and remembering where I was when life went all topsy-turvy. And making a plan for what's going to happen next.  Lots more quilting, I hope.


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..... 

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