Thursday, June 29, 2006

An interesting weekend is planned, with the delivery of an enormous industrial skip and the intention of clearing up Don's wood stash. He doesn't complain about my material stash, because he has the equivalent in wood and wood-products downstairs. And I love the possibilities of what it will all become, so I don't usually mind the wood mountain. However, we need to tidy it up so that potential buyers of this house won't blanche in horror at the sight of it. I'll let you know how it goes.....

I've been cramming a bit of sewing into odd spaces of time, with the result that I now have a finished Wheel of Fortune top, which somehow grew too big for the quilt hanger I wanted to display it on. I will have to find a larger quilt hanger or use it as a bed quilt. That just gives me permission to make another quilt that will actaully fit on the present quilt hanger.

I did use the Parisian Essence on the borders, and I'm glad I did, even thought the overall change was subtle. The navy fabric had a tiny white design on it, which is probably why I hadn't used it in 15 years; the white was jarring. But it toned down beautifully, and I'm really happy with how it looks.

I also sewed all the strips leftover from my red and green quilt into pairs, and cut them into slices to make into these blocks. Don't know where they are going yet, but I have 4 baskets of scraps cut into units, which is a good feeling.

Remember the four blocks of the pink and yellow and green Many Trips Around The World that I was making before I left for America in April. Opened a pizza box that used to store strips, and found.... 26 more blocks! Where did they come from? Either I am losing my short term memory or there really are quilt fairies.

It's not as bright as the flash makes it look, but it is still going to be a strongly coloured quilt, unless I make a lot of sober blocks to tone it down. But I quite like it the way it is. I am making it for our bed, so I will make another 15 or so blocks and see what I think then,

I'm putting off the moment when I have to count the number of quilts already in this house. Once I know that figure I may give up any idea of making yet more. But that's unlikely to last.....


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I was a little intruiged by my bottle of Parisian Essence, and wondered what was actually in it to make a dye. The label comfortingly says 'Warning! May stain fabric." Well good, I want it to stain, but just how long would it last? The label says it contains food colouring 105, and not much else, so I looked it up on the net. FC105 is Fast Yellow AB. That's even more comforting; it shouldn't wash out in a hurry.

Interesting; what is the difference between a stain and a dye? I guess a stain is more transparent than a dye, maybe it doesn't have the same masking properties. Who knows. I can colour my fabrics with this stuff, drink it without harm, or make a mess all down the front of my shirt; it's got so many uses.

I think tea-dyeing gives a greyish tone, which is why I haven't used it a lot. I prefer the yellow tones of FC105.

These are photos of sculptures from the Chicago Art Museum. They are part of a display of architectural details from buildings that have been demolished. These were by Lora Marx, and she made them for a night club that was redecorated in 1937; thank heavens someone thought to save these. If I could have anything from that museum it would be these two faces. They are so strong and timeless.

I immediately thought of novelist Ayn Rand when I saw these; they say something about the era she wrote about, her high ideals about art and principles.


These are the Wheel of Fortune templates that I am working with.
They are by John Flynn, and he has a range of other patterns too. I love acrylic templates, I have quite a collection of them, and I enjoy having them all, even if some have never been used. I have plans for them someday.

I can see myself using the pieced ring from this pattern in lots of other patterns too, so it will be useful long after I have got sick of this particular block. I think a sampler of different circular blocks would keep me occupied for quite a while. And I like the idea of being able to use up all those strange scraps of my strip piecing projects.

The hazards of never throwing anything away are beginning to emerge, as I hunt into the deepest cupboards and open every last little box and tin. I have collected tins and storage containers for 35 years or more, and have been stowing little projects or supplies in them for the same amount of time. My goodness, the pitiful scraps and unsorted rubbish that are coming to light is amazing. As I snort and toss it in the bin the pile of empty tins and baskets and plastic containers grows ever larger. I have loads of storage now, because I've got rid of the junk at last.

I have tangles of embroidery floss 40 years old and welded into a solid knot; hardly likely to come in useful. I have thriftshop wool felted together in it's packet because it's more than 50 years old, faded and a bit moth-eaten too. I have scraps of once-white muslin, none larger than a 1.5" triangle. Used papers from a hexagon project finished 24 years ago. The contents of at least 9 sewing baskets that I bought from second-hand stores, mainly rusted needles and pins snarled up in frayed ribbon and unwound reels of thread. Did no-one explain to me in my youth the function of a Rubbish Bin????

There are treasures as well, and it's nice to be reacquainted with them. I collected embroidery for a while, anything that depicted a house. I think I want to make a Log Cabin quilt with the embroideries as the centres. That idea will have to grow a little before I start to do something with it, but it's nice to have this lot waiting.

Every year I take a two week virtual holiday while Wimbledon is on. I sit up late at night, sewing or knitting, watching the world's tennis players slog it out. I don't play, having been forced to when I was young and I hated it; in fact I blame my current wrist problems on those wretched games. But I love watching tennis. Everyone else goes off to bed and leaves me to it. I drink hot mocha, and sleep on the couch and enjoy myself mightily. And get a lot of sewing done.

Two hand piecing projects are at the top of my list of things to do this year. The Tumbling Blocks I started in 1998, to take with me on a family Christmas holiday. I've thought this was finished several times, and then decided to make it bigger, but it now fits our queen-size bed, and that's quite big enough. It needs a few pieces around the edges and it's done.

The Inner City I cut out at the same time as the Tumbling Blocks, and it is intended to be a wall-hanging to match. It keeps getting larger too, and I was shocked to realise when I spread it out that it is finished bar the border. So nothing is stopping me from getting this little

baby into the pile of finished tops, except for the lack of the perfect border fabric. I think I will go shopping for a reproduction border stripe fabric this afternoon.


Saturday, June 24, 2006

There has been no sewing taking place here for more than a week. There has been mindless knitting of socks late at night, but no sewing.

I have been packing away books, magazines and extraneous things that we don't use, trying to get the house presentable enough to put it on the market. I have shifted every stick of furniture we posess, washed every corner of every floor, washed windows and curtains, polished and scrubbed and sorted till I wonder why on earth all this stuff is even necessary. I can feel a minimalist bout coming on, but I know it will pass. I love my junk, but there is far too much of it.

I am trying to be methodical, making inventories of each box of books and numbering the boxes, and I have every intention of making a spreadsheet so that I can find what I want in future. I'm always full of good intentions, but I haven't run out of enthusiasm yet, so I may just be able to see it through this time. I've always wanted to have an inventory of my books, so I'm enjoying the whole process.

I'm also trying to sort out the hand-piecing projects that I'm discovering in various spots around the house. I'm gathering them all together, and then I'll have a serious think about which ones I want to finish as I originally planned, which ones should be finished as they stand and which ones I should pitch entirely. I do love to start things and never get back to them.

I'm also finding lots of non-quilting projects, and I have to make decisions about those as well. I have a huge trunk full of rug-making supplies, for hooked rugs and braided rugs and crocheted rugs and latch-hook rugs. I have enough stuff to carpet the back yard as well as the house. I threw out a heap of old material that was destined for a braided rug; having made four in the past I know that I won't have time in the forseeable future to tackle another one. It's a good feeling to discard things sometimes.

I have done another 4" of a latch-hook rug that has been in progress for two years. I have really weak fingers and wrists, and the repetitive motions and the strength needed to make the knots just ruin my hands after a week or so. This can go back in the trunk until my hands have recovered.

I found an ancient needlework picture, that needs a few night's stitching to complete. This was in a McCalls Needlework magazine I bought in 1975, and I've always loved it. As you can see by the date, I was close to finishing it 13 years ago, and ran out of the cream background wool. Last year I finally tracked down a match, and this year I'm determined to finish it and get it framed. My daughter always loved watching me stitch the roses, and once I came back from making a cup of coffee to find some very odd stitches in place. She was chagrined to realise that it wasn't as easy as it looked! I pulled out her erratic stitches and helped her do some proper ones, but she really wasn't that interested. She loves beading, but not any sort of sewing.

I found heaps of pieced scraps in the sewing room, and cut out as many of the point templates for the Wheel of Fortune as I could. It was a great way to use up some really strange scraps, and the hard work of piecing the bits together had already been done. As you can see by the inch markings on the mat, this template is quite tiny, so you can cut pieces out the smallest scraps. I'm thinking of making a block using the pieced ring of the Wheel of Fortune, and substituting different centres. I haven't got sick of piecing them yet.....

When I was dividing up the material to share with Meredith I had a struggle with three pieces that I loved, and (shame on me) didn't want to split with her. Lo and behold, when I was looking on her blog at the picture of material she'd bought, there were the three fabrics! She'd already bought them for herself, and I could keep all of mine. In total there were eight fabrics that we both bought; do we have the same taste or what!

And her parcel came to 11kilos, or 22 pounds of fabric and books and wool. It will be just like Christmas; I'm thinking of the Christmas barrel in The Long Winter.....(Laura Ingalls Wilder)


Friday, June 09, 2006

I don't think I have what it takes to be a good blogger. I miss too many opportunities for blogworthy photos, and I'm not dedicated enough to record things when they happen. Nearly 6 weeks in America, and there are three posts? Must try harder next time..... I'm buying myself wireless internet before I go anywhere else, so there will be no excuses next time.

I do have several hundred photos to edit, so I'll post some over the next few weeks, as I get to them. I'm still trying to catch up with business and family stuff, plus doing a little bit of sewing in odd moments to preserve my sanilty. Don't know if that's being very effective though.

It's good to be back, even if the cats ran away in terror when they saw me come in the door; it took a day for them to stop peering through doorways at me as if I were an intruder, and an unwelcome one at that. But all is forgiven now. I've seen the photos and heard the stories of Rhys' 18th birthday party, and it's a good thing I wasn't here. I would have ruined it entirely by being sensible.

I've divvied up the purchases and there is a parcel for Meredith waiting to be sent; you can see why there are always people wanting to be our long-lost triplet. I was remarkably restrained; I was allowed 64 kilos of luggage, and I only had 60. That's 132 pounds of stuff I lugged from the International Terminal at Brisbane to the Domestic Terminal. Whew. I was glad to get that lot home.

I have been wanting to do some round blocks for a while, so I bought several sets of acrylic templates from John Flynn. I tried out the Wheel of Fortune set, using my 2 1/2 " strips. The tiny triangles are cut from pre-pieced strips, so it goes togethere really quickly. The cutting is fiddly, but so much quicker than any other method, and I love the finished block.

I made 6, liked the effect but hated the pink setting material. If I'd been sensible I would have stopped then and replaced the pink fabric, but some madness made me think it would grow on me. It didn't, and then I had 16 blocks to deal with.I should know by now that I have to listen to that annoying little voice that tells me to stop what I'm doing before it's too late.

While I was at the various shows I found myself drawn to the antiques booths and the really dark and dirty looking antique quilts, with strong colours and vibrant contrasts. That's what I'd been wanting in these blocks, and they were just too perky and bright. So I threw caution to the winds, and dyed the blocks with something called Parisian Essence. It's a food colouring, but has the happy side-effect of staining fabric a deep browny-yellow. It looks like Dirt-Of-The-Ages in a bottle, and I really like the way the blocks look now. I've picked out the border fabrics, and the top should be in one piece this weekend. And I'm still not sick of piecing the blocks, so I think I'll pick out good fabrics for another variation....

I have acrylic templates for Wheel of Mystery, and Inproved NinePatch blocks, so I will have to grab some scraps and make sample blocks of those too. The Wheel of Mystery will be a great scrap quilt; the sample quilts at the John Flynn booth were batik, and they looked fabulous too.

Those antique quilts were divine. I loved this one with the pumpkin coloured sashing. These were at Cindy's Antique Quilts, and she had some utterly fantastic quilts. I could have spent a lot of money there, if I had lost my senses entirely. As it ws, I succumbed to one that was machine quilted, and will fit nicely into a collection that my friend and I are building, showing early machine quilting. Well, that's how I justified it anyway.....

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