Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Two more blocks have been sewn, and I'm auditioning fabric for the alternate setting squares. I know I want it to be a black print, but I want just the right black, which will involve a bit of a search through all the storage containers. I can handle that.

I'm making the HSTs (Half Square Trinagles) needed for the blocks in sets of 16 (with this template of mine) and I only need 12 for each block. That leaves four left over, and I'm sewing them into these Broken Dishes units, as leaders and enders. They will be the starter for another quilt, and seeing that they finish up at 4" blocks it will take a while to collect enough for a whole quilt. Actually these are the sort of blocks that end up taking over, so I will end up cutting more fabric just for them, and the original blocks will languish. I've been there before. But I may also be sensible and make a miniature quilt, cause they are really cute all on their own.

And while other Mavericks are swapping pictures of favourite sewing spots, and entry ways, I thought I'd post these pictures of Mereth's sunroom. It's a lovely room, wonderful to sit and sew and knit around the combustion heater, or put in a few stitches on the latest quilt. That polished wooden floor does look nice when it's just been washed, and there's not a mark on it!

My own house is so disorganised at the moment that I wouldnt dare post any pictures; when I get all the boxes and extra furniture into storage I will show you what it looks like.

Eileen in the comments asked about my studio.

Alas, we sold the cottage last year, because it was the sensible thing to do, given the skyrocketing prices here at the moment. We were going to immediately buy a block of land and build a workshop for me, but that proved way more complicated. All the land in town is covered by covenants, which limit what can be built. The block we loved had 24 pages of restrictions, right down to the colour of the letterbox. A shed or detached building for my workshop was out of the question, so we made rude gestures at the whole thing and went away. I could have the house and workshop of my dreams if we lived 15 minutes out of town, but Don doesn't want to move out there. So we are at a standstill on that front, and I'm crammed into all the available space in our home. I do have an office/sewing room downstairs, but it is being remodelled in aid of the Great House Sale, so I can't work in it right now. (Sob...)

But I am learning some lessons, about patience and what I truly want to possess, and how I need to organise my business and home life. I keep everything, which drives Don mad. I never even delete files, just squirrel them away on a corner of the hard drive. I'm convinced that if I ever get rid of something I will immediately need it, and it's happened so many times in the past that I feel justified. But I need to learn to burn the CD of files as a backup, two if necessary to make me feel comfortable, and then Get Rid Of The Stuff!! Throw out the unnecesary paperwork, get rid of the useless scraps of fabric, ditch the old clothes and odd socks.

In our last cleanup I found 17 odd socks in Don's drawer. 17!! My theory is that one sock in every pair is made of soluble fibre, and it just disappears in the wash. When DD Seonaid was three she carefully packed one of every pair of her socks into a play handbag, took it with her when we went shopping, and left it somewhere. So I had to go out and buy her a whole new collection of socks. After that I bought their socks in multiples, all the same, so that they could still wear them even though the number of pairs gradually dwindled down to one or less.

It has been so hot here already, I could have put the AC on yesterday but I wouldn't, just on principle. It is still Winter, dangnabbit! I refuse to acknowledge the 31 degree temperature. I will knit on regardless! Oddly enough the handknitted socks have proved remarkably easy to keep track of; not one has escaped yet......


Monday, August 21, 2006

I got busy yesterday and made a sewing corner for myself, so there will be no excuse not to sew a block or two a day. I cleared a corner of our enclosed front verandah, and set up my machine, a cutting table and the ironing board. It's just inside the front door, so I will have to keep it clean and tidy (I Hate That!) but it's better than running between three rooms.

When my daughter was very young I had a similar setup, because we were renovating and had no space for a sewing room. I used to lay my blocks out on our bed, pin them together and then run through the loungeroom to my machine in the verandah to sew and press them. And back through the lounge to the bed to lay them in place. DD kept pleading with me to come and watch TV with her, and I kept saying, on my way through, 'In a minute, I'm quilting now...' She gave me a disgusted look and said 'I HATE quilting!!' So I stopped and watched TV with her. Talk about guilting me out! Is it just coincidence that my spell-checker turns 'quilt' into 'guilt'?

This is the bulk of my FQ stash, and some of the lengths of fabric. There are also boxes and boxes of 5 metre lengths for backings, and a cupboard full of scraps and bits and pieces and not so special pieces. And another cupboard full of dressmaking and upholstery fabric and the associated trimmings. Not to mention three enormous tubs of vintage fabric. You can see why I need to streamline my posessions. Bear in mind that this is what's left after three ruthless sortings already.

My favourite occupation apart from actually quilting is organising my fabric. These drawers are the best thing I've discovered yet, but they look nasty and I don't like the fact that they are plastic. And they aren't vermin or dust proof either, which is annoying. So I continue to dream of matching sets of melamine drawers, expecially built to house my collection.

I do like these CD boxes, because they fit a FQ exactly and the lid seals really well. In case you are wondering, they hold 100 FQs, something which absolutely stunned me. I have 4, which makes me go all hot and cold at the thought of 400 FQs. But each drawer holds more than that, so I'm trying hard not to add it up and discover what I have here. I don't have to be guilty if I don't know......

DS Rhys is on term break from Uni, so I don't have to go out at all this week, unless I want to. What luxury. I adore being able to stay home all day, and not have to brave the traffic. I think I will sit down with coffee, (of course) and make a list of things I'd like to achieve this week; more blocks made, more shawl knitted, spare bedroom sorted so that the floor is visible again! Oddly enough the rest of the housework is up to date, which is so unusual for me. I'm not into houseproud, I would much rather sew or knit or garden and have soemthing to show for my days. But I even polished my kitchen sink this morning; I must be ill..... I'd better sit down with some fabric until I recover. These reproduction fabrics will do nicely.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

There has been sewing done today, after weeks and weeks of being unable to get near my machine. It was by no means easy to sew this single block, as the sewing machine is in one room, the cutting mat in another and the iron in yet another. I just don't have time or space to collect everything in one room, so it will be awkward for some time to come. But I proved I can do it, even if I have to walk around a lot in the process.

This block is similar to the one that Meredith is doing, except the points in the centre square-in-a-square don't meet. It changes the look of the block in a subtle way, makes the corner elements more pronounced. I intend to make about 30 of these and set them on point with alternate print squares. That ought to keep me busy for a while. I can't do my scrap blocks at the moment, don't have the room. With this project I can make it one block at a time, and all I need to have out is the chosen two FQs.

Eileen mentioned in the comments yesterday that it is winter down here and how come things are flowering? I live in the tropics, and we don't really get a winter. This year I haven't stopped wearing T-shirts at all; mostly there are a few weeks when it does get cold, but not this year. We have lots of trees that put on a spectacular flowering display in the winter months, and the mangoes always flower in August. Then we get a single storm that blows all the tiny flowers off; if we don't, there will be a bumper crop of mangoes. This is not good, as then we get inundated by fruit bats, squabbling over the trees and swearing at each other all night. And after that it all falls off and smells like a brewery for about two weeks. Ugh! I hate mangoes, they smell like fetid socks to me. I also hate pineapples and paw-paw too; I don't think I should be living in the tropics.

The southern states do get winter, but it's rarely cold enough to snow. Most places just get a lot of frosts and rain and cold winds. But nothing like winter in the northern American states. Thanks heavens.

I am knitting a shawl, in a traditional Scottish garter stitch pattern. It keeps me occupied in front of the TV at night, and I don't have to concentrate too hard on what I'm doing. When it is big enough I will choose an edging pattern to knit all the way round, just for a bit of fun. I hope to get it done before the weather really heats up and makes knitting impossible.


Friday, August 18, 2006

I haven't posted for ages, things have been busy around here. Nothing fun mind you, just lots of cleaning up in the garden and around the house. This is why we've never tried to sell the place before, it's just such a big job. The photo is a bougainvillea vine that was growing by our deck. The house is two storey, and the vine had reached the rooftop. The flowers are beautiful, but the thorns are vicious, so last weekend we decided to cut it down to ground level and be rid of it. By the end of the first day we both looked like we'd been attacked by a pack of lions, and it took all week for the scratches to heal. OWWWW!! I kept consoling myself that we would never have to deal with the darn thing again, and that I would plant a pretty vine to replace it, with no thorns.

Ocassionally I think 'What the heck, we'll just go on living here for another 21 years', but I do want a change after all this time. I really want to move so that I can have a bigger workspace, and get a quilting machine. I've spent a lot of time in my friend Kaye's workroom, and it's like a little slice of heaven. I call it my spiritual home, because it has everything a quilter's heart desires. I will try and find some photos to show you how wonderful it is. I want one just like it.

I am heading north in a week's time to teach a mini wholecloth workshop, which should be fun. We start out with a square of fabric and play with stencils and design a little wholecloth quilt to make. The students all surprise themselves with how creative they are, and the little quilts are amazing. The photo is a small quilt I did for a magazine article several years ago. It's lived it's whole life in the local patchwork shop, but it's one less quilt that I have to store. And it's displayed to perfection on the walls of the shop, so I get to enjoy it every time I visit.

The little star quilt is one of my favourites from about 5 years ago. It was so easy to piece and quilt, and I enjoyed every bit of it. I do like making mini quilts (this is about 30" square) because they don't take much material or effort to make, and they don't require much room to store or hang them. I love red and green quilts, I don't think I've made my last one yet......

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