Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Every weekend should be five days long.  I'm having a lovely time just pottering in the sewing room and the garden, it would be wonderful if life was like this all the time.  But it's back to work tomorrow, and we'll be running to try and catch up.  But it's totally worth it.

I've quilted all the donation tops that were given to me, just have to bind them sometime during the week.

Check out that vintage print, very nice!

It would have been nice to load one of my personal tops, but Millhouse was busy the whole time.  Maybe next long weekend.  I want to do one of my 'best' quilts, and really do some special quilting, but that will take a lot of time and planning.  It's frustrating to have the machine and not be able to do our own quilts.

I am still working to rationalise my stash; much as I love my Judie Rothermel fabrics that came in the fabric club, I find them overwhelming as a group.  I have four drawers full of them, and I never seem to use them.  It's been three years since I got them, and it's time to start cutting them up.  I devised a couple of projects that use massive amounts of fabric, not just a measly strip or two. I'm cutting a 5.5" and 6.5" strip from a fat quarter, and there's not much left after that, especially if it's been nibbled at already.
I intend to give Mereth the leftovers, which she will be so happy about.  Then whatever is left will go into my regular stash drawers, to be used like normal fabric.  No more "Too good to cut up" rubbish.

The blocks I'm making will end up 5"square, and I'll need well over 100 to make a decent size quilt, which is all good.  I want to have a huge amount of blocks to diffuse the oddity of some of these reproduction prints.  There's no way I would have bought them on their own, they were just part of the collection, and authenticity aside, some are downright ugly.  Hopefully they will get lost amongst the crowd of other prints.

 Yesterday I drove down to Adelaide to pick up Mereth from the aiport, and managed to fit in a little trip to Bunnings, our huge hardware chain.  I adore that place so much, but I never have enough time to go through the whole place, I just run in and grab a few things and race off again.  It's a serious limitation going alone, no-one to help load gear onto the trolley.  I should have bought all the bulky stuff first, loaded it into Wilson and gone back for the fun stuff.  I managed to get some wood and melamine shelving that I needed, plus some plants, so that will keep me happy for a while.

It was fun to have both dogs for the weekend, they had a ball together.  Dolly is still sleeping it off, and enjoying having my undivided attention.  But in about an hour I reckon she'll be up for a visit, and some more fun times.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

 I have the Drab blocks in one piece, with the leftover strips used as piano key borders top and bottom.  It doesn't look too bad, but I still think the best thing to say about it is that it won't show the dirt, being so dingy already.  Hilary was right to say in the comments that it would be a good 'bloke' quilt, so I think it will get quilted and donated.

I quilted a second donation quilt today, but don't have a photo yet.  A friend made three tops and we're quilting and binding them, and then we'll move on to the stack of tops we've made.

This one was done yesterday, and it too will be good for a guy. It feels great to be getting quilts done and ready to donate; we've been so busy that there just wasn't time to tackle them.

 It's easier for me to stay at Mereth's place while I'm looking after both dogs, so I've taken over her sewing room.

She will have a fit at the messy photo, but I'll clean it up before she gets back.  I'm cutting up the Antique Fair jellyroll, and playing about with different blocks.  I think I'll have to add in fabrics from the stash, I don't like working entirely within a range; it's just too limiting.  These are lovely fabrics, and I want to combine them with other favourites.
  I lent Mereth my little Canon camera, which means I have to lug about my big Nikon, and try to remember how to take decent photos.  It's far superior to the point-and-shoot one, so I should get serious about using it all the time.  Every evening on our walks the sky and clouds are glorious, and the little camera is hopeless at capturing the display.  Hopefully the big camera will do a better job, once I figure out how to work it.


Friday, April 22, 2011

We're having a long, long, long weekend here in Australia, 5 days off because of Easter and Anzac day.  Mereth took advantage of the time off to go to Newcastle to see her No2 son and his family.  I'm sure she is cuddling little Logan right this moment, lucky thing.

We drove down to Adelaide yesterday to stay the night with No1 son, and we managed to fit in a trip to a little Indian grocery that we've been to before, where we stocked up on a few necessities, like Indian snack food, prepackaged meals, bulk spices and curry paste. 

 I just love wandering through the aisles looking at all the foods that are so different to ours, with strange packaging and exotic ingredients.  It was a fun way to spend an hour.  Then this morning I dropped Mereth at the airport at 5am and drove home through light rain and lines of holiday traffic.  A lot of people were getting an early start, and I felt envious to see convoys of 4-wheel drives lined up at the side of  the road, mysterious and important in the pre-dawn light, drivers congregating to chat and share coffee.  It would be so fun to be setting off with a group of friends for a camping adventure, but I have duties here.

As soon as I arrived home I set Millhouse to stitching on a donation quilt, and went and picked up the dogs.  I have instructions to give Pippi lots of cuddles while her Mum is away, but Dolly doesn't approve of that.  Little bit of sibling rivalry happening I think.

My plans for the rest of the day are to keep working on the donation quilts in the background, while I sew my Drab blocks together.
Mereth said she was sick of them on my design wall, she lost the will to live everytime she caught sight of them.  They are a bit depressing, so I'll get them in one piece pronto and move on to something more cheerful and pretty.

Right after I give Pippi a cuddle....


Saturday, April 16, 2011

My design wall is in utter chaos today.  One minute I'm working on the last of the framed cross blocks ( must find out their real name) and the next thing I know there are four new blocks pinned up there, waiting to become new projects. 

I was hoping to rationalise my sewing room, but I think I've actually tipped it over the edge into outright bedlam.

I may have to put these blocks aside until I can decide which way to set them; I like both ways, and I have enough to do either.  I just can't choose right now.  Hence the need for a new project. 

I will have to sit down with a cup of coffee and write a list of all the new blocks, their sizes and colour schemes and what I want to do with them, or I'll forget by tomorrow.  At least if I've jotted down a few notes it will jog my memory, hopefully.  Future Self will be most grateful.

My idea while I was cutting these blocks was that I wanted to be able to clear out the strip drawers, starting with the 2.5" ones, seeing as there are 4 of them.  One is enough, I don't know how I managed to accumulate enough strips for four.  An added bonus is that I can use jellyrolls too, and I have four of them somehow.  Don't know how that happened, but they need to be dealt with. 

I made three cross blocks to see which proprtions I liked best; the middle size won, and the other two will go into the Orphan stash.  All the cross blocks use 2.5"strips, so I can just cut a heap of the rectangles and put them aside for these blocks.
I love the stripe from the Civil War Reunion collection  in this block; it's a great way to use stripes to give the effect of more complex piecing.  That little idea will go into the files for later use. Ignore that tiny cross block, it was just an experiment.
These big blocks are using up a pile of terribly dull FQs that I weeded out of the stash ages ago.  I was going to just make a backing, but I thought I'd see what sort of a quilt they made; if it's too ugly it will be a backing anyway.  I like all these fabrics, but they are just dreary when put with anything else.  They can all be  dreary together here.

These little blocks form a cute plaid arrangement, and they're so simple to make.  They will use up a pile of 3.5" squares that were leftover from other projects, and be a useful leader-ender.  I'll be making heaps of these.

To make matters worse, there are lots of boxes of fourpatches and strip-pieced scraps, and leftovers from various charity quilts that I don't want anymore.  I don't have unlimited space in my sewing room, so I need to cut down the amount of things I store in here, and only have things that are current and useful.  Everything else can go into storage out the back.

I want to make a list of all the size strips and patches I consistently use, and what I use them for, and eliminate the rest that are odd sizes or that I'm not likely to use up soon.  I'll cut them into other sizes, for projects that I'm working on, and get rid of them that way.

Once upon a time, when I was much younger, I could keep all the varied threads of life in my head and not get muddled, or confused, or lost, or late.  But now, inside my head is like a shambolic, overcrowded, bent-out-of-shape filing cabinet.  I should be able to remember where I filed important information, but I can't.  Not on demand, anyway; I might come up with the goods at 2am when it's too late, but that is part of the problem, not the solution.

I know that from now on I will have to keep notes and records to trigger my memory, if I want to avoid total chaos.  It's just that I like working the way I used to, and it will take a while to put the new paper-trail method of organising into practise.  But the blog can be really helpful, if I can just find the time to post more often. 


Sunday, April 10, 2011

 It's a beautiful autumn day today, and all I can hear is birds singing in the early morning sunshine.  Sundays are so quiet here, not like when I lived on the main street.  Everyone popped into the supermarket next door, so there were traffic noises and  chatter. I didn't mind, but I love the peace and bird songs here.  My neighbour has lots of aviaries, and those bird voices are especially lovely.

There has been time for nothing else except work lately, and I'm so weary of it all.  I would love to jump in the car and go visit friends in Sydney, but that won't happen for a while.  So I'll make the most of my Sunday, and try not to do anything work related.  It's so easy to just open a file to check something, and then three hours go by and I feel hard done by because it's turned into another work day.  So after I hit Publish, I'm going to plant my seedlings and then make bread, and maybe have a cup of tea in the garden. 
 I stayed up late last night sewing, so there is a bit of progress on this set of cross blocks, but I'm not feeling drawn to finish them into a top.  They aren't inspiring me yet, so I'll pack them back in the drawer and let them mature a while longer, like cheese.  Then maybe that cheddar sashing will seem like a good idea...

I'm having fun with these cross in a frame blocks, cut from scraps as well as the Civil War Reunion jellyroll I bought.  I have the absolute perfect setting fabric, just have to decide on a layout.  Onpoint with alternate squares is looking good, but I also like it set straight with alternate blocks.  I'll make the final call after I have a heap more blocks finished.
 In my other house I could sew while my machines were printing orders, but the sewing room is nowhere near the office here.  So while I'm babysitting the printers I practice my recorder.  The acoustics in the hall are great; I can play as loud as I like and it can't be heard outside, which is reassuring when I don't quite hit the note, which is often.  Poor Mereth and Dolly still hate it, but it keeps me amused.   And I think it's beneficial to learn a new skill every now and then, keeps the brain cells active.  Or tortured, or something.

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