Thursday, August 06, 2020

Life keeps changing, and because I'm committed to helping out DD Seonaid and her family, my life changes with theirs.  2 weeks ago Hayden started another Fly In Fly Out job, this time at Olympic Dam, a mine in the north of South Australia.  At least he's in the same time zone this time, so he can easily stay in touch with the kids.  He's working away 2 weeks, and home for 1, which is a lot kinder than his last job where he was gone 4 weeks at a time. I'm still working out how long I will stay with Shonny each fortnight to help out. 

The first 2 weeks were a blur as we worked on getting the kid's routines established without Dad there to help.  Finn is the hard one to work around; when he's hungry or tired there's no reasoning with him, and there have been some epic screaming bouts from him.  Now that he's nearly 6 months old we've introduced some solid food to his diet, and he's certainly calmed down.  His hunger pangs are savage, so a bowl of rice porridge is helping overcome that. He gets so excited when he sees his bowl and spoon, it's hard to get around his clutching hands, he wants it so bad. Mealtimes are so easy when they like food and are willing to try anything.

It will be hard work for Shonny to do it all on her own, especially bath and bed time, but if I use my time down there to make freezer meals and make sure the washing is up to date then I'm sure she can cope without me when I come home for weekends. It will all evolve into a workable routine over time I'm sure, and I'm still enjoying spending such a lot of time with the grandkids.  Not everyone has that privilege.


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Thank you for all the well-wishers on my last post.  If I haven't replied to you privately its because the comment came up as no-reply when I tried to email you.  But I'm grateful for your concern.

My many projects are in a terrible mess, littering every surface and tipping my sewing room into utter chaos.  I'm cutting so many different size pieces, for so many projects, and I'm just making a bigger and bigger mess all the time. For some reason I focused on my Beloved blocks mentioned in a previous post, and resolved to find out exactly what I needed to kit up and how many blocks I already had.

There must have been 6 baskets of pieces and fabric that I'd set aside for this, so I tried to collect it all in one spot and then count it all up. Oh and then I thought I might as well cut up all that fabric so I could put it away, and sew up a few more blocks to check my pressing instructions and...

By the time I ran out of steam there were 84 blocks on the design wall, and another 70 kitted, and a pile of leftover strips, but at least I could also pack away the fabric that had been bugging me in the first place. I didn't come across the blocks that I thought I'd made, so maybe I just imagined them after all; who can tell what goes on in my mind.

I have all the kitted blocks in this one container, and another one for the blocks, so it seems to be under control at last. Which is more than can be said for the sewing room.

So I made myself clean off the original cutting table, full of scraps from January quilts.  It took sooooo long, and I had to force myself to keep going, but for the first time in six months I can see all of the table top.

I think I'm more pleased with that than with the kitted blocks.

In the comments Riley asked about leader-enders, so I'm linking to Bonnie Hunter's Leaders & Enders page. She explains it so much better than I could.  I simply cannot sew without a leader-ender to leave under the needle, I will hunt high and low for something to sew so that I don't have to pull the piece out to cut the threads.  The backs of my blocks are as neat as the fronts, all the threads clipped close.  I don't waste thread, and I don't have anything to tidy up before quilting. It doesn't take long for it to become a habit, and it saves a fortune in thread, so give it a go if you're not already a convert.


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

This post has nothing to do with quilting, but it's an important part of what's been happening in my life over the last 2 months, and it may inspire other people to take care of themselves.

Here in Australia we have a Breast Screening program that provides free mammograms every 2 years.  There are screening buses that travel all through rural South Australia, so there's no excuse not to attend. Mereth and I have always kept those appointments, because we lost our Mum to breast cancer in 2006. However, at the time of my last appointment I was in Adelaide, and then I didn't make a new appointment, and then Finn, and Covid and.....

At a doctor's appointment for something entirely different I mentioned that I hadn't had my last mammogram, and also that on occasion I'd noticed spots of blood in my bra.  Well that's not good, she said, and arranged an appointment for a mammogram at an Adelaide hospital.  I had the mammogram, and an ultrasound, and both showed nothing, but the doctor said We really need to investigate this blood discharge, because it's not normal.  I was scheduled for a biopsy a week later, under general anaesthetic, and that wasn't fun,but it wasn't too awful either. I did think that there was an awful lot of bruising for a biopsy and it was a large incision

When I went back two weeks later I was a bit astonished to be told that the pathology came back as cancerous; up until then I'd sort of felt I was wasting their time and there was nothing wrong. The doctor said I wasn't to worry because they had removed all the tissue they deemed to be abnormal, and it was good that they'd caught it so early. I was glad that they didn't go on with the biopsy, wait for the results, and then schedule another surgery; it was much better to just have the one operation. I will have an MRI in three months time to make sure that there is no recurrence, and regular checkups to make sure I'm OK.

I am most grateful for our Medicare system here; the four consultations, the mammogram and ultrasound, the surgery and a night in a care facility cost me nothing.  I paid $16 to leave my car in the hospital carpark overnight. While I'm still a bit shocked at the speed of it all, and the "You had cancer and now you don't" statement, at least I don't have medical bills to take care of.

If I had been wearing my black bra I would never have noticed the little spots of blood, which was the only symptom;  nothing showed up in the mammogram or the ultrasound.  When it was large enough to show up on a mammogram it would have meant more invasive surgery to remove it. From now on I'll wear a light coloured bra, I'll have a mammogram every year, and I won't ignore even the slightest thing out of the ordinary. Fingers crossed that the MRI in 3 months time is clear.


Thursday, July 09, 2020

I am currently obsessed with this block, made from 2" strips.  It's easy to put together, and it seems the perfect block for all those odd strips of repro fabrics littering the scrap drawers.  In fact, I like it so much I have used most of my precious scraps to kit up another 30 blocks, and I can't wait till I have time to sew them all.

I'm tossing around ideas on how to set the blocks together; I thought maybe pink sashing, but that didn't appeal, nor does shirting. I'll ponder that as I sew.
If a strip is too  small to get a whole block out of I cut whatever pieces I can, and then mix them up in these blocks. I have heaps of red strips to get rid of, and they make a nice focal point for the block.

I like this one set edge to edge and on point; I'm not going further with these until I work out a pressing method. I really hate having to mash seam allowances together when I'm assembling blocks.

I've been making 3" nine-patches as leader-enders, but I find them too boring. I'll go through my books and try and find an antique ninepatch to base a quilt on, and then I'll be happier about making dozens of them.
Now that I have so many 2" x 4" bricks cut out I've begun using them as leader-enders.  
They will get sewn together in pairs first, then I'll sew the pairs together to make longer rows, and then I'll join all the rows.  It will keep me busy for a while and that's good; it really puts me off when I run out of leader-ender pieces

And because I'm really fickle, I pulled out an old project, Beloved, from this book.

I've kitted about 50 blocks, and I have 55 finished blocks.  There are the pieces for another 10 blocks by my machine, so I'll have 65 blocks soon.  The problem is, I distinctly remember telling Mereth that I had 80 finished, some time back in February.  So I'm missing 25 blocks.  I have no clue at all where they are, and I really don't want to rip the sewing room apart looking for them.  My best plan is to keep making blocks (it needs 144!) and keep cleaning up the sewing room, and at some point I"ll open a container and find the missing blocks.  I hope....


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.

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