Thursday, January 16, 2020

Ohio Star progress

This has been my main project for months.

I love it, but I'm stuck. I just can't decide on the right sashing fabric, and I don't want to work on it until I have that figured out.  I need to cut out more pieces soon, and I feel like I need to know the fabric I'll use for the sashing before I do that.  There's a few pieces of a likely candidate on the design wall already, but it seems too yellow, and the print on it makes me think of men's pajamas, and it's just not right.

I'm annoyed with myself because I can't overlook that and move on, keep making blocks, choose  a fabric from the stash or buy something.  Surely I'd be able to solve the problem later on, even if it means rejecting a few blocks.  But I'm not going to ignore the voices on this, so it's off the design wall.  We're on a break.
There's 40 completed blocks, and 18 kitted ready to assemble.  I'll use them as leader-enders while I work on something else.

I'm not jumping into a new project just yet.  There are UFOs that need to be dealt with, not out of duty but because I'm eager to see them in one piece.  So I'm spending a bit of time reviewing the projects in my stack of boxes, and I'll choose one soon to work on. It's actually really enjoyable, to go through things I haven't seen in months (or years) and decide what will become of them.  Some of them will be finished in a much smaller version, because I don't need them as a full size quilt; others will be reworked into something quite different, and some will even be abandoned.  I was quite surprised to discover that several were just a single block and a collection of FQs.  I'm not sure that even qualifies as a UFO.

I only have 26 things on my list, and I'm determined to keep that number dwindling.  Several only need to be assembled, the blocks are done and just waiting.  My plan is to put together an easy UFO, and then work on something more challenging, and then go back to an easy finish UFO.  That should keep me interested and the list will keep shrinking.

How long till I start something new? That's the big question, but my aim is for there to be a whole lot of different things on the UFO list at the end of the year, not the same old ones that have been there for 5 years. Not as many stalled quilts, and a lot more Works In Progress.


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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The year is picking up speed already, we're half way through January and it's happened in the blink of an eye. I've really enjoyed my time at home, working in the sewing room and the workroom, but I don't have much to show for it.  It's been a lot of leisurely sorting and rediscovery and thinking about how I could rearrange things a bit better.  Once the year gathers momentum I rarely have time to potter about like that, so I'm enjoying it.

I've just returned from 5 days in Adelaide.  Shonny and Hayden went off with the adults from his family on a no-kids weekend, and I baby-sat Isla and Thomas.  It was fun, no dramas, and we did a few things that Mum and Dad would have frowned on, like getting out ALL the colours of Playdough instead of just 2 at a time.  Thomas had to kick things up a notch by eating the pink playdough with a fork, despite me telling him not to. It was obvious from his face that it tasted dreadful, but he kept doing it, until he was banished to observer status.  The next day he ate a handful of sand from the sandpit, and that was mayhem when it reappeared in his nappy.  Kids!

Perhaps you recognise this scenario if you have a bossy child in your life. We were drawing, and Isla wanted me to draw a circle on her page.
" Please draw me a circle all round there." All sweetness and light.
" No, not like that, a Circle.  Not there, I didn't want that. I need a circle. It doesn't match up, you need to make it join up!. No, it's not a circle anymore, it's not right!!!" And much sobbing ensued. I know I'm not much of an artist, but I did think that I could manage a circle.  Apparently not.  We patched things up, and I drew a flower and a butterfly that mollified her, and Thomas chewed the end off a crayon, and life went on.

She starts kindy in two weeks time, and then the world starts having a say in her life.  I love having her all to myself, and being such a big part of her life.  Soon she will be full of tales of her teachers and friends and new exploits; it's all a part of growing up, but I'll miss the little girl she was.

However, there's always Thomas, who is a juggernaut of risk and danger and daredevil adventure.  Which is bad, because he's also extremely clumsy and accident prone and doesn't seem to learn from each disaster. And soon a new baby to add to the family. I don't think there will be much quiet time in the coming year, but that's OK. Being a good Nan to my babies is the important thing right now.

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Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Simple 4 patches

This pile of 4patches is leftover from a quilt I made at least 13 years ago.

It's one of my favourite quilts, I just love the soft colours.
I don't know what I planned to do with these bits, but I got sick of seeing them in the spare parts drawer, so I just sewed them all into one piece. 

I still don't know what I'll do with it, but it needs some borders and then it can be quilted and maybe donated. It's too soon to be thinking about quilts for survivors of bushfires, but later in the year when people are resettled, I will be sending some off.

I'm not making much progress on my major projects, but I am getting some things dealt with.  Not a bad start to the year so far.

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Friday, January 03, 2020

An empty container

I found a container with a few random pieces in it (the one on the right), and decided that I needed to whip them up into blocks, or just get rid of them.


I combined them with some 9-patches made from the basket of 1.5" squares, and created these blocks.

I didn't love them enough to want to go on making them, especially as the original pieces weren't the right size.  My seam allowance was way off, which meant matching them to the accurate 9-patches was a chore. these will go into the Orphan Box.
I sewed the wonky pieces together and mashed the resulting piece flat with the iron.  Then I decided it needed a little border, so I hunted out the container of Half Square Triangles and added some Flying Geese.

It looks pretty cute, and took all of an hour to finish.  I'll see if I can quilt it as quickly in the next few days.  I'm so glad I didn't go off on a tangent and start a big quilt to use up these pieces; it's lovely to just deal with them and move on.

This is a good start to the year; Mereth is always telling me I should be making small quilts, and this proves I can. May there be many more.

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Thursday, January 02, 2020

A new year

After the busy end to 2019 I've been taking it easy, and not pressuring myself to jump back into sewing, or cleaning, or fixing up the garden.  Things need doing, but I'm going to take my time and make a plan about how I'll spend my time.  My friend Helen is like an Energiser Bunny; if she has 15 minutes to spare she will jump right into a project; I'm more likely to have a cup of coffee. But in some cases it's better to sit and have a coffee and a think, rather than race off and not know where you're actually going!

Several times I sat in the sewing room and tried to create some momentum; each time I didn't feel any affinity with what I was doing.  The whole time I was away, I missed my quilting; now that I"m home, I just can't get started.

Every year at this time I become convinced that I need to clean up, use up or throw out all my scraps.  Last year that derailed the first quarter of the year, as I made endless 9-patches and rail fence blocks for this quilt;

and string blocks for this quilt.
I'm not going to do that this year.  I'm going to ignore the scraps, and I won't start any projects just to use them up. I'm going to sew on my existing projects, or start things that I'm really enthusiastic about.  I'm going to make a huge effort to deal with scraps as I create them, and try to visit the scrap drawers first when I need strips, but I'm not going to focus on them.  I love cutting yardage, so that's what I plan to do.

In 2019 I finished 13 quilt tops, and quilted 8 quilts.  That was a splendid result, seeing I spent half my time in Adelaide, instead of home.  This year should be a bit more relaxed, so I'm confident that I could actually achieve a goal of 20 tops in 2020.  I have 26 UFOs in the spreadsheet, and I'd like to cut that down to around 15 or 16. 

I finished these two very old UFOs last year,


and that felt wonderful, so I"ll try and get that list whittled down before I start too many new things.

It's stinking hot today, so I'm off to the air-conditioned workroom.  I'm going to put the finishing touches to my 4th jigsaw for these holidays, and I'm going to trawl through Pinterest looking for my next quilt project. That's a pretty good way to spend the day.

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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Home again

What a whirlwind end to the year! Our trip to visit family went off so well, I can't quite believe it.  Isla and Thomas were on their best behaviour, people complimented us on them at every gathering.


At Grandma's party all her friends approached me throughout the day and told me what a delight the children were.  One lady said darkly, 'We get some real little monsters in here." Oh dear....

We stayed at a lovely Air B&B just around the corner from the house Grandma and Grandad lived in while my kids were growing up, so it was a very nostalgic visit to our old haunts.  Thomas blotted his copybook by locking himself in one of the bedrooms, but luckily the lock could be turned from outside with a butter knife.  Shonny came flying into the kitchen to get one, and I gave a sigh of relief that it was one of those locks; there were hefty grills on all the windows, so we would have had to call a locksmith to get him out.  Kids!

At the end of the week Shonny and the kids flew home without incident, and I went back to Rhys's apartment to stay until after Christmas.  We visited the dog park every day with Daisy, who is just the sweetest puppy ever; 

we went to farmers markets, to the movies, and to some of the best brunches I've ever had.  We had some wonderful meals out.  

At home we played trivia and did two jigsaws and watched Netflix, and it was so relaxed.  I cooked corned beef with all the trimmings on Christmas Eve, and made sure Rhys paid attention to how to do it, so he can make it for himself in future. On Christmas day we had a spread of cold meat and salads, just like our old Christmases. We had a wonderful time.

I came back home much refreshed, and stayed with Shonny and family for two days.  Unfortunately Isla is sick,hopefully just a tummy bug, but it sort of ruined Christmas for her.  I was going to bring her back home with me, but she's too ill to travel, and we're in the middle of a heat wave, so I'm home on my own.  I don't know what to tackle first, the sewing room is too hot to work in, so I'll have to hope the AC in the workroom can cope with the 45(113) ° temperature tomorrow. I think another jigsaw would be a good idea.


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Thursday, December 12, 2019

I've been spending my nights kitting up Ohio Star blocks, and thought I'd show you how I do it.


I cut the triangles out with my Go die; it cuts 8 of each fabric at a time, which is enough for the star points of a block, or the background bits for 2 blocks, or the inner triangles for 2 blocks. The squares are cut 2.5", and I already have a big stash of those from previous projects.
I cut out heaps of triangles and then sit down and sort out what I want to put together.  Each little set of pieces gets put in a snack sized baggie, and 10 of them go into a sandwich size bag.  It makes counting kits easy, I can see at a glance I have 22 in this tray.
When I have time to sew, I will concentrate on sewing the Hour Glass units first.
I make Hour Glass units for up to 10 blocks at a time.  I have to be in the mood for precision sewing to do this, so that they are accurate and measure 2.5" exactly.
Here they're all laid out with their matching pieces, waiting to go back into their snack bags.
When I don't feel like precision sewing, or I only have a few minutes between other chores, I grab a block or two and put them together.


It's just as easy as sewing a nine-patch now, and if I've sewn the Hour Glasses properly then everything matches perfectly.


By doing it in stages like this I make the best use of my time and I match the sewing to how I feel.  The good thing is that some nights I suddenly have 10 blocks finished, without much effort, and that's like magic.

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