Sunday, March 29, 2009

I put the borders on this quilt over the weekend, now I just have to sort out the backing and it can go on the frame in between customer quilts. It looks very warm and autumny, and it large enough for a queensize bed. It will be donated to Christine for the bushfire appeal.

I wish I had kept an accurate count of the fabric I've used up lately, because the borders and bindings sof these quilts have used up swathes of material. Which is just as well, as my own sewing is just nibbling away at the stash. I have 5 more Jane Stickle blocks finished, and 4 more prepped for applique. I'm just loving these blocks, they are so sweet and intriguing. Some of them are torturous, but it's a challenge to make something other than the usual patchwork. I'm sure some blocks will have me begging for mercy, but I haven't come to them yet.I'm chained to the computer doing new designs for release at the Machine Quilters Showcase in May, and my mood alternates between happy concentration and downright grumpiness. I'm making progress, but it feels like nothing else gets done while I'm in design mode. To make it worse, the garden is basking in the autumn sunshine and I know I should be out there, planting the bulbs and seeds before it gets too cold. I will have to take a day off and just get it done.

They say that learning new things helps keep the mind young; to that end, I decided that I would learn to play the recorder, properly, having found an old one in the boxes of things that Mereth's boys left in my hall. Poor Mereth has been subjected to the most miserable, wretched noises imaginable, as I ploughed through the book of tunes that came with it. Even I can't stand to play Cockles and Mussles one more time; erch! But I'm getting there, and it's sounding less like a demented banshee, and more like music. She still turns pale and leaves the room if I pick up the recorder, but it sounds OK a few rooms away. I have to practise at her place, because the dog next door howls in sympathy if I play it here. Such fun for my neighbours.

Today I bought a new toy, an Irish Black Whistle. It is tuned to the key of D, which makes it easier to play, and the fingering is much more straightforward than the recorder. It plays lower notes, and sounds much more mellow, and best of all, the dog next door just sits and listens. I will never be good enough to play in front of anyone, but it's keeping me amused.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

We put in a lot of hours over the weekend, sewing on the donation blocks, and I'm ready for a break. We had Queenie set up next to my Janome, and we sewed and pressed and cut some more, and now we're all sewed out on those particular blocks. I just have to add the borders, and I will have a Queensize top to quilt, and Mereth has a similar one to put borders on. Then I need to sew some Dear Jane blocks just for Me!This morning I printed out a tutorial for a little bag, and made it in about 40 minutes, and 10 of those were spent choosing what material to use. It's so easy to sew, and looks very cute. I think I need one for my latest sock project. Lazy Girl bags are always lovely, and the pattens are so well writen.

It's quite roomy inside, it holds everything I need to make my yo-yos on the go. This particular one will be for my coffee cup and lunch, when I go to patchwork meetings. I'll make one with cutesy fabric for my yo-yo kit. And one out of sheep fabric for my sock knitting.

And Mereth isn't the only one with puppy photos; everytime we visit I fall in love with a different one, but we can't really have favourites until they're running around chewing things and being charmingly individual. Until then, this chubby little girl just might be ahead of the rest.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

I finished this top last week; it's some leftovers from my Showgrounds quilt. It's about 60 x 70", a nice single bed size, and it will be quilted and sent to Christine for the Bushfire appeal. I have several single bed ones ready to go; there are still many more needed, so we are having another sewing day with our group on Monday.

We took a trip to Jamestown and visited the fabric shop, Charlene's; when the owner, Elaine, found out about the blocks we're making she donated four 1kg bags of scraps. Mereth and I are pretty hardened when it comes to scraps, but we came close to being overwhelmed that day! We already have one quilt assembled, and are still sorting out the next ones, but there must be enough for 4 or 5 quilts in that lot. Lots of it is VERY bright, which is good, because not everyone likes our muted, reproduction fabrics. We should have some nice, modern quilts from this lot, and it will be fun to show Elaine the results of her generosity.

Last patchwork meeting our friend Bev was complaining that the computer screen on her machine was fading and she could hardly read it and it would have to go and be repaired. It's a similar model to my Janome so I could tell her that it had a dial to adjust the brightness of the LCD. She was so grateful that she dropped in the other day with this enormous bunch of roses, and a dozen eggs from her free-range chickens. The eggs didn't last long, a few omelettes took care of them, but the roses are getting better every day. They are just magnificent.My Busy Bee machine has been christened Queenie, and is just delightful. When I investigated her drawers I found two Accessories tins, absolutely pristine, containing spare parts and also these individually boxed feet. None of my other machines ever had the feet in the original boxes; what a treasure.

And they are helpfully labelled, in case I didn't know what they were, and they have an instruction book. I'm well pleased.

While in Adelaide I couldn't resist the lure of a couple of garage sales. At one I found this McCalls book, in very good condition; I have a soft spot for McCalls, as they published quilt patterns when no-one else did, and were the basis of my quilting knowledge for many years.
Anyway, look what was in there; my next needlework project. I may make a cushion like this; I've always wanted a couch full of needlepoint cushions. But I've always wanted a wall full of pictures too. I'll decide later...


Sunday, March 15, 2009

We were off at sunrise yesterday, for a quick trip to Adelaide. I won another Ebay auction, so we had to go and pick that up, and also go to Spotlight for some needed fabric. It was a gorgeous grey day, Autumn is here at last; I just love a sky full of grey clouds.The early light caused some fantastic effects, and we stopped to take photos of the windfarm; I love these huge blades turning in the wind, they look incredibly significant. Of course in twenty years time we'll have evidence that they are beaming information to aliens in outerspace, and all those nutjobs were right all along; until then, I'll enjoy them.We had to find an address in Port Adelaide, and at an intersection I realised that we were very close to a house my DBrother No1 had lived in about 8 years ago. I knew there was a church just down the road with cute stained glass windows, so we did a little detour to take some photos. It was a very busy street, so we had to be content with a couple of snaps from inside the car. Love the little crenellations on the entry of the church.

Across the road was this beautiful mansion, complete with widow's walk around the top. The beach runs parallel to this road, so there would be an amazing view of the sea from up there. It must be wonderful to live in a place like that.
And once we got back on track we stopped to take a photo of this glorious pile, the Largs Pier Hotel. It's the only grand building around; probably the builders expected Largs Bay to be hugely popular, and it never made it. It looks very out of place all on it's own.
In one of the shops in the shopping centre of Semaphore I photographed this tiled entryway. The grubby footprints made me want to grab a bucket and sponge and make those beautiful patterns gleam. These tiles always look wonderful when they're wet, so that must have been an incentive to clean them, surely...
And the reason we went in the first place? This little beauty, a John Martin's Busy Bee in cabinet. John Martins was a big department store in Adelaide, one of the places to visit on a trip to the city. The cabinet has a retro charm all it's own, as well as being so solidly built it's almost too much for us to move; the machine is a darling, and I've already sewn some blocks on it. The stitch quality is impeccable. I'm looking forward togetting to know her better.


Friday, March 13, 2009

The latest issue of Homespun was in the mail yesterday, and I was surprised to see that I was on the cover; I'm a Covergirl at last!
When I posted my Half and Half quilt off for photography I had no idea of the adventures it would get up to; look at the beautiful blonde snuggling up to it!It's always fun to see your own familiar quilts in print, they look much more glamorous than when they're bundled over the back of the lounge.
Whenever I see my name in print like this I remember my darling FIL, who was very proud of the Emmerson heritage. When I came back from my first American trip, with photos of the Golden Threads booth emblazoned with my name, he was delighted to think that the Emmerson name was being displayed so prominently. He died two years ago, but I like to think he's still getting a smile out of this.

And Bonnie's in print too; what a lovely set of photos, and she looks gorgeous. She's a star, and Lucy's house is the perfect backdrop. Typical overachiever though; we come back from holidays with fuzzy photos to remind of the trip, she comes back with a magazine spread. And Lucy, your quilts are beautiful!

My friends, the two Sonia's, have been asking constantly about the state of the Showgrounds quilt, and seeing as they were due to come round for the evening I chained myself to the sewing machine and got the borders applied. It wasn't hard, but it was heavy work with all that fabric. I have to say I am thrilled with how it turned out, I love the border fabric so much I want another 10m of it straight away. Oh I'll have fun quilting this one!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My problems with camera batteries have stopped me from photographing some of the projects I've been working on over the summer. Even with new batteries the camera keeps draining them overnight. I am so NOT amused. It's done this before and then resumed normal operations, soI will wait a while before I have a tantrum over it. I just need to keep the spare batteries charged and waiting.

This needlepoint picture was begun back in the mist of time, in a previous century; I only stitched the date when I was sure that it would soon be finished. That was right before I ran out of the background wool, and found that the colour had been discontinued. Many years later, when the shop I bought the original wool from was closing down, I found one skein of that colour on the throw out table and swooped upon it. However it took me till January 09 to put in the final stitches. I'm now hunting for the perfect frame for it, and I might modify some of the letters in my name; they are pretty clunky and unappealing.

The design came from a MacCall's Needlework magazine, and I love the picture just as much as when I started it. I will start another design soon; I've always wanted to do a Victorian 'spaniel-on-a-cushion',so I'll track down a pattern for that. I'm in no hurry when I do these needlepoint pictures though, as you can see by the date on that one.

I haven't spent much time lately on my own projects, but did manage to fit in a few more Stickle blocks. Having to rethink my usual practises for these tiny blocks is fascinating, and I think I'm going to do a lot more with foundation piecing after this. It has so many possibilities.
Still loving these, and not a squeak of complaint so far.


Friday, March 06, 2009

Yesterday was our patchwork group meeting, and we had a sewing bee. Last time we met we talked about the quilts that have been donated to bushfire survivors, and I asked them all to bring along some fabric this time so we could make some blocks for the cause. In order for us to make some speedy progress I asked them all to cut five 2.5" strips of light fabric, and 5 of dark, sew them together into pairs of light and dark and bring them to the next meeting. Which they all did.

Damn camera batteries keep draining themselves overnight, so no photos of our day, which is a pity because we had a great time.

At the start of the day everybody gave me their strip sets and I set to work cutting them into 4.5" slices. Mereth took all the scrap bits and cut them into 2.5" slices. The others sewed on their own projects until we had a pile of pieces cut, and then helped us sew the blocks. This is such a simple block, it just flew together. I paired all the slices of fabric like this and gave them to two machinists, who fed them through the machines steadily. It was hard work keeping up to them! From there they were whisked away by the Iron Fairy for pressing, and then back to me for pairing up again and pinning. Then back to the machinists, and the Iron Fairy, then onto the stack of finished blocks. It was astounding how much we got done, and with no fuss whatsoever. Even the pressing is simple with this block, the seam allowances just fold over nicely, and fanning the seams in the middle makes it very flat.Mereth was doing the same thing with her team of girls, but they were sewing 16 patches.

Some aren't exactly the right size, but we will trim them to a constant measurement and they will make a border, or we may even put them into a strippy quilt. Every bit will find it's place, and we should be able to make 3 or 4 quilts.

We made 105 blocks after lunch, and everyone had a great time; lots of laughter and fun, and a wonderful feeling that we were helping others through a difficult time.

We also have a collection of fabric and sewing notions to send to Jenny's step-sister, Alice,
to help rebuild the sewing supplies of bushfire survivors; I'm touched by the generosity that our little group has shown. A lot of good wishes and sympathy have been sewn into these blocks.
That pile of beautiful Oriental 10" squares in the top left hand corner was donated by our friend Sue, and another friend showed us the perfect pattern for them, so we will try and have that finished, quilted and donated soon. The nights are getting cold over in Victoria now, and the quilts are needed.


Monday, March 02, 2009

Here is Ms Millhouse, strapped into the back of the car for her journey to the city.

We had a busy weekend, spending time with Mereth's first-born and his partner, as well as meeting up with other Statler owners. Plus some shopping and socialising as well. I'm not used to so much activity, we lead a very quiet life here normally.

We had quite a few things on our list to do. Mereth's son Rob has always wanted my Camry, so I'm lending it to him for as long as he wants it. Does anyone else have a hard time letting go of their cars? I love my Cammy so much, I'd hate to sell her and never see her again. Anyway, she'd been in a neighbouring town for a week, for repairs, and on Friday we drove there in the Magna station wagon, then I drove Cammy to Adelaide and Mereth drove the other car. His name is Wilson; doesn't everyone name their cars?

We had to navigate our way to a Logistics depot in Port Adelaide and deliver Cammy, so she could be shipped over to Rob in Newcastle. I was so sad to let her go, but Rob will look after her.
Once that chore was off the list, and we were back in one car, we could go shopping!

Our camera batteries decided to die at the same time, so no photos of the second-hand shop we went to. It's called Hazel's, and is a shed just stuffed with things. I like ferreting through messy places, but it's almost toooo grubby. As soon as we leave we scrub our hands with the WetWipes in the car! This time I found an old plastic sewing box, but when I looked inside it was full of things from someone's medicine cabinet; squeezed out tubes of DencoRub and pill bottles and old combs and toothbrushes. Ugghhhh. I did find two needlework cushions that I rescued from the concrete floor; they should clean up nicely.

After that we stopped at Ikea of course, for a late, late lunch and lots of coffee. Yet again we ended up just leaving with practically nothing, too overwhelmed to choose what we wanted. One day we will have the time to stay there all day and actually decide on what to have. I adore that place, but it just defeats me.

Our other fun shopping experience was in the Chinese Supermarket on Grote Street, near the Central Markets. We wandered around marvelling at the different packages and strange items. I took a couple of photos, until Mereth told me it was rude and I shouldn't do it. So you can't see the packets of Pork Floss, or Ground Shrimp, or Dried Fish. Or the biggest tin of Curry Powder I've ever seen; you could have used it as a footstool!

I will be going back for some of this china, it was very nice, and not expensive.

Our Statler get together was fun, it's always good to see old mates and catch up with things. We were supposed to do a bit of training and learning, but it was much more pleasant to sit outside with wine and good food and good conversation.

Ms Millhouse had her spa treatment ( had her innards repacked with grease amongst other things) and suffered no ill effects from her little outing; she was back in the workroom stitching away today. She sounds different, a bit gruffer than before, and very no-nonsense. It's time to get stuck into that pile of tops that has accululated over the summer.
And in case you think that bright quilt of my daughter's has been on the frame all this time, we have zippered leaders; it's been unzipped and put aside while Mereth did several customer quilts. Today we zipped it back on and Mereth used the extra backing and batting to quilt another small top. I love our zippered leaders. Now to bind both of these and donate them.

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