Sunday, September 08, 2019

August was like a runaway train, the days just flew by so quickly until suddenly it was over, and here we are in September.  Winter is over for another year, and I'm not ready for spring, and I'm positively dreading summer. I should just live in the moment and enjoy the mild weather while we still have it.

So much has been happening, my head is still in a whirl.  The main events last month were Isla having surgery to remove tonsils, adenoids, lip and tongue ties, and ear drainage. She's always had trouble breathing through her nose, and was a terrible sleeper.  She never wanted to go to sleep, I think because she would often wake up struggling to breathe and that frightened her. I check on her every night before I go to bed, and I could stand in the doorway of her room and hear her laboured breathing.

 The recovery from surgery wasn't without it's own drama, she was a very sore and fragile little girl, but she seems to be over the worst of it now.  When I check on her at night I have to go in and put my hand on her to make sure she's breathing, and for the first time in her life she's sleeping with her mouth closed.  She's happier, more rested, her lips don't dry out from all the mouth breathing and she's much more relaxed about going to bed now.  So it's definitely been a success.

A week after that Hayden had knee surgery, and is laid up for at least 2 weeks while he recovers. Shonny is working extra hours while he's off work, so I'm staying more or less full time to help out.  I'm so glad I"m available to help, it's so much work looking after the house and 4 kids and the invalid.  Shonny attends college two days a week as well, so I've been getting lots of time alone with the kids, which I love, but it's tiring. I'm home for a flying visit, mainly to tidy up the garden a bit before the spring weeds take over, and then I'll be back to Adelaide to wrangle those kids.  We have 50% shared care of the two older girls now, so it can get a bit hectic at times.

I thought life might slow down a bit after Shonny finishes her studies next year, but something unexpected happened.

These two are going to be joined by a new brother or sister in February next year. The new baby might be unplanned, but it's definitely wanted.  We won't know for a while if it's a boy or a girl, but I'll be happy either way.   I would like another girl, but a brother for Thomas would be lovely too.


Sunday, August 04, 2019

This week is the last week of Shonny's break from college, it's back to school next Tuesday, and I'll be back to helping out three days a week.  It's been a lovely break, even though I've been down there every 10 days or so to help out and babysit for special occasions. I'm determined to actually achieve something in the next few days, I've started so many jobs and not finished anything, so I have to stop getting distracted.

I've moved cupboards that haven't been moved in 10 years.  I've opened so many boxes and sorted out the contents.  I've gone through my tax records and ditched anything older than 5 years.  I've been ruthless with clothing and linen and kitchen things, determined to pare down my possessions to a reasonable level.  It's interesting and a  trip down memory lane, and most of the time it feels good to get rid of things that no longer hold any appeal.  But now that I've sorted and thrown things out, I have to organise what's left.  That's where I'm coming unstuck, trying to categorise all this stuff. But I shall persevere.

My reward for all that has been some serious sewing sessions, and a lot of tidying up in the sewing room.  I'm finished with the Plaid top made from the leftover shirt scraps. 

The piano key border has used up nearly every skerrick of leftover strips, so it was worth it.

Of course I needed a leader-ender while I was putting this together, and I used up all the blocks I'd kitted in this Rail Fence variation.
 It's not very big, just a nice couch size, and I resisted the temptation to make it larger. I actually don't have any leftovers now, so last night I cleared away all the scraps of the shirts, packed away the two boxes of shirt pieces, and now I'm ready to go back to my reproduction fabrics.  The reclaimed shirt fabrics were a fun diversion, but it's time to get back to my other projects.


Friday, July 19, 2019

I'm still cutting up the shirts, and kitting up blocks to use as leader-enders.  I like having a stack of simple block kits in a box by the machine, ready to add to the end of my chain piecing.  But all too often I get obsessed with the leader-ender project, and my main project gets pushed to one side.  That's why I'm in such a mess at the moment, working on four things instead of one.  But instead of putting aside all but the main project, I just sew faster on all four.  It's a bit exhausting.

I'm kitting these simple blocks, I'm up to 25 sets of pieces ready to sew. I have 20 finished, and I need 80, so I'm halfway there already.

I'll still need to cut more strips, but that's satisfying because 3.5" strips really take a chunk out of the shirt pieces.  I can see the pile growing smaller now.

After I finished the border of little squares on the Churn Dash quilt I realised that I had an awful lot of leftover light and dark squares, already pieced in pairs.  I also had a big pile of 2.5" strips, so I came up with this simple block to use them up.
It's incredibly quick to sew, and it does a nice job of using up the leftovers, and it's an easy leader-ender.  It's a win all round.  Except that it finishes at 5", and to have a decent size quilt I'll need at least 144, and the leftovers won't stretch that far.  So now I'm cutting up more 1.5" strips, and more 2.5" strips; maybe this time I can calculate how many I'll need and cut only that amount.  If I don't do that, I'm going to have a new quilt rise up out of the leftovers of this quilt.  It's never-ending.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

I love my Electric Quilt software, but I have one complaint.  With a few clicks of the mouse I can add a cute border to my quilt, like this little border of red and white squares.

Then it takes me two whole nights to make the thing and add it to my quilt. But I went with dark blue instead of red.
I really love how it turned out, and it's worth the extra work, so I"m not really complaining. This was so much fun to work on, I really enjoyed making all these little blocks. The shirts were mostly fun to work with; some were a bit limp and it was a struggle to make them behave, but I just starched them into submission.  Some weren't what they seemed; they were labeled as cotton, but they shrank and puckered when ironed, so they had some synthetic content.  Those pieces got pitched, except for one lovely green.  I took extra care not to iron it at high heat, and once it's quilted it will never be ironed again.  But it's nerve-wracking working with blend fabrics, so I leave them behind at the op-shop.

This little top turned out to be cheerful and colourful; my first blocks were quite boring, but once I found the pink, purple and orange shirts, they came to life.  I started this after seeing the blocks on Jo's Country Junction, and she got the idea from Floating On A Quilted Cloud.  I wonder how many of these quilts are out there now, all inspired by Jo and Regan. These little blocks have spread all around the world.


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Back home again, and looking forward to some time in the sewing room. The little people wore me out this visit, Thomas in particular is very high energy, I spent most of my time keeping him out of trouble.We have epic battles over what he should and shouldn't touch, and whether he should stand on chairs or beat on the windows in the playroom.  I win, but he puts up such a fight!

Last week, before I left, I quickly added the borders to the sampler quilt. 

I'm pleased with how it turned out, I love that I got to use so many of my blue and red fabrics together.  There are still a lot of them in the stash, but at least I've begun to use them instead of passing over them all the time. 

I have another set of blue blocks in a project box;
the sashing is chosen, and pieces cut.  All I have to do is get it all sewn together and I will have another finish. 
But I'm more interested in making progress on my shirt quilts, so these blocks will have to quietly wait their turn.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

I've departed from my usual focused way of quilt-making, and adopted a more scattergun approach. I'll be sewing madly on one thing, and another project will pop into my mind.  I want to see that other project on the design wall, so I sew even faster, trying to get whatever I'm working on in one piece, so I can rip it off the wall.  Yet I'm not finishing anything.  I'm very busy in the sewing room, but there's no finished items.

I'm trying to decide, while I keep sewing, whether I need to amend this way of working and concentrate on completing something.  It's good that I'm getting things further along, but I cant seem to clear the decks of all the associated fabric and scraps.  No time! Got to keep sewing!

But I need to stop and take stock.  A little organisation would probably make me even more enthusiastic and determined.  So...

The sampler quilt just needs borders, so that should be the first priority.

The Churn Dash shirt quilt is close to being finished, just needs the rest of the blocks sewn together and a little border added.
The little Puss In The Corner blocks need to be sewn in to blocks of 4, and arranged on the design wall so I can make decisions about setting triangles and borders.

The Country Cousin blocks need to be finished, and the borders attached.

I need to cut 3.5" and 1.5" strips from all the shirts, so that I can kit up a heap of blocks to use as leader-enders. Then all the shirts can be packed away till the urge to use them strikes again.
I could go on, but that's more than enough for now.  I've been home a week, and today I'm off to Adelaide again, for a bout of baby-sitting while the parents do various things.  Shonny sent me a video of Thomas saying 'Nan-Nan-Nan', so I'm keen to hear it in person.  I don't miss my sewing room much at all, when I have such delightful little people to keep me company.


Monday, July 08, 2019

Whenever I go to opshops I keep an eye out for good quality shirts to add to the collection.  They need to be washed, then when I have a large pile I'll sit down one night and pull them apart.  I usually do this when I'm tired and don't feel like sewing, and I just watch TV and cut the shirts into usable pieces.  I finished Tumelo Trail last year, and had a pile of 5" Churn Dashes cut out, but then I seemed to stall.  Other projects appealed more and the shirt fabrics and scraps were packed away.

A couple of weeks ago I cut up the latest batch of shirts, and dug out the Churn Dash blocks to see if I wanted to go on and finish them.

They looked better than I remembered, so I started cutting strips from all the new shirts, and kitting up blocks. After  while I felt a bit lost, I had no idea what size quilt I was trying to make, and how many blocks I'd need.

EQ8 to the rescue again.
72 blocks would make a decent size quilt, so I went back to the cutting board and cut even more strips.  Then I cut those strips into 2.5" HSTs, and 1.5" squares, and kitted up the 40 or so blocks I'd need.  I had fun, but what a mess!  And it didn't even make a dent in the shirts.  That's when I decided to cut out enough 3.5" strips for another quilt.
And then I sewed a few blocks to make sure I liked the way it looked.

And now I have another whole quilt to kit and piece.  The pile of shirts hasn't gone down at all, I think I'll have to piece the backings for these quilts out of them too, but I'm really enjoying working with this reclaimed fabric.

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