Sunday, November 30, 2014

I'm in an organising sort of mood this morning, and I've already spent several hours cutting strips needed for the two major projects I'm working on.  I have only 11 more album blocks to make and I'll have enough; I'm so close to the finish on that one that I want to just sit down and do it all in one session, but common sense tells me I'd burn out if I tried that.  So it's back to bagging up the necessary pieces, and doing as much as I can in my little bits of time.

I've made some low contrast blocks, and they look fine, but this is as light as I want to go. 

When my quilt is more than 100 years old I'm sure that there will be faded blocks anyway, so these are just a nod to the original, and a lesson to me that I can step outside of my comfortable working zone and do something a little bit different.
It's really starting to look like a quilt now....

I sewed up my trial block of Jarred Takes A Wife, and I love it to bits. 
The colours are so happy compared to the grubby, retro Album browns, and it cheers me up to look at the pretty, modern prints. 
I want to cut most of the strips I need for this and have the whole 30 blocks kitted and waiting.  I always forget that 12" blocks are BIG, and 30 of them take a lot of strips.  I've been cutting for hours this morning, and I think I have most of what I need. 
This afternoon I'll parcel it all out into ziplock backs and see what I need to add to complete the kit.

December is almost upon us, so I will have to make plans to put the tree up, and make a few Christmas treats in the kitchen.  I want to have things in the freezer this year, so that I'm prepared for unexpected visits, and when I"m on holidays I won't have to run around making things. I'm going to make mayonnaise this afternoon, I've always wanted to try that and it's salad weather now.

Cutting and cooking are so hard on the feet!  I need to sit down and sew and let my feet recover.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

5 weeks till Christmas!  Mereth and I don't do much at Christmas now, as our children are scattered around Australia and it's difficult to arrange a get-together with in-laws to take into account.  The Christmas rush now is the amount of extra work we have to deal with as Posties; the parcels are arriving thick and fast, and the weeks until Christmas are just a lot of hot and heavy work, culminating in a mountain of stuff to be delivered on Christmas Eve.  That makes our time off even more enjoyable though, and instead of moping because we don't have all the family around, we'll have the luxury of lying about and doing exactly what we please.  I see a couple of jigsaws in the near future, for a start.

My Leader-Ender project is coming along nicely; Mereth donated a pile of 9-patches that she made on spec, so I'm up to 120 of them now.

I'll have to do some calculations to see exactly how many I need, because I'm not making it as big as Bonnie's.  I may very well have enough already.  I had to buy a piece of yellow fabric to use as the setting blocks, I Hated everything in the stash.  I had a half-yard piece of the exact fabric Bonnie used in her quilt, which I loved, but there wasn't enough to do anything with it.  I'm going to make a mini quilt with that fabric, and the big quilt will be a softer buttery yellow.

I had some lovely Asiatic lilies in the garden this year, they put on a stunning display.  I love plants that are so easy to look after, yet have amazing flowers.  I'll be growing more of these next year.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

I love lazy Sundays; on Saturday I'm still tired from the work week, and mostly trying to achieve something significant in my free time.  On Sunday I tend to take it easy, which is the way it should be.  There's still stuff I need to be doing, but I enjoy pottering around and taking things at a slower pace.

There are 15 blocks to do on the Album and then it will be time to get them all put together.  I usually choose fabrics that are too dark, so I've consciously gone a bit lighter, but not light enough.

 I'm such a wimp sometimes, going for the safe fabrics with 'enough' contrast; it's the odd blocks that bring a quilt to life, the ones that don't follow the rules, that break up the ordered, predictable pattern.  In the quilt that inspired this project there were some very pale blocks with little contrast.  I've challenged myself to put something like that in my quilt.  Am I brave enough?  Time will tell.....
Oh dear, this photo from the net is about 14 years old, and it was terrible quality even then.  Still, I'm glad to have it, how else would I have remembered this lovely quilt.  We are so lucky to have the fantastic images we enjoy now. 

You know what this is, don't you.....
I'm making a test block of Jarred Takes A Wife, so that I can start cutting strips and kitting blocks when Bonnie's first mystery clue is released at the end of the week.  I really can't devote a lot of time to a mystery, when there are so many of my own projects I want to do, so I'm quilting along with one of my favourite Bonnie patterns.  I've had the fabrics for this in a box for nearly a year, so it's time I pulled them out and got going with it.  I'll enjoy reading all the mystery clues, but I'll be sewing a quilt of my choosing.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

In  between all the work and gardening stuff there has been sewing.  I'm still working in little sessions here and there, which I never like.  It doesn't feel like I'm achieving much, but there is real progress.  I'm more than halfway through the blocks, and I have a third of them joined together. 

 I thought I'd better find out if I actually had the patience and skill to do all these set-in seams on a grand scale, and surprisingly I like sewing them very much. 

 It's been such fun picking out the fabrics for each block, it only takes two 2"x 18" strips of the feature fabric, so I've been using some precious scraps. 
I think this is my favourite block so far, I just love this fabric.  I don't have very much left, which is sad.
As much as I adore my Singer 538, I have to find a replacement machine. 
I'm  going to work my Beloved into the ground, and she's an old girl to begin with.  I fixed her once, but if something else goes wrong there's no guarantee that it will be repairable.  I've always wanted to sew on my old Bernina 730, so I hunted down a quarter inch foot on Ebay.  I've been waiting impatiently for it to arrive,  and yesterday it showed up, just in time for the weekend.  I set the machine up and made a test block, and the seam allowances were perfect.  I do what Bonnie does, sew some block pieces together and see if they fit a longer piece in the block; if they are exactly the same length, then you know your seams are spot on.

How exciting to have another machine to rely on for piecing! Now I just have to find a way to set her up permanently in the sewing room; there's not much available space.
And I'll have to find a name for her, if I'm going to sew on her every day....

We went to our favourite garden shop for a bit of R&R, and I bought some more seedlings, probably the last of this season.  It's getting too hot to be starting new plants off;

petunias for a couple of display pots, jalapenos because it's too expensive to buy them at the supermarket, more cherry tomatoes.   I'm always quick to complain about the weather when it's bad, so I should also admit that this has been a lovely spring.  Each week there has been one or two horridly hot days, but the rest of the time it's been very pleasant.  The garden has flourished, but unfortunately those hot days have mostly ruined whatever flowers there were.  The roses are covered in buds and blooms, but the flowers are nearly all heat damaged;

the Pierre de Ronsard climber manages to look lovely, even with the damage to the outer petals.  The plants themselves are growing well, so I will just have to wait for the autumn flowers, which are always better.  Gardening is not about instant gratification, no matter what the shows on TV say. 
It's going to be hot today, so I will spend the day in the sewing room.  I always imagined that I would race to the end of 2014 in a flurry of finishes, but it's more likely that I will dawdle there, admiring the scenery and enjoying the details.  I've done a power of sewing this year already, so these last few weeks can just be about the fun, not the numbers on a chart.  While I'm beetling around my sewing room I will have to think of what I want the emphasis to be on next year; 2014 was the year of the UFO, what will 2015 be?  Applique, hexagons, embroidery, hand-piecing or quilting?  I'm going to have a jolly good think about that one.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Nothing is jumping out and demanding to be finished, so I pulled out a long-term UFO and I'm working on it here and there.  I blogged about this here and here in December 2012.  I think 2 years in the cupboard is enough incubation time.

It's such a sweet block to put together, there is nothing hard about it;
 it's the setting that is difficult, and I intend to keep adding blocks to the existing section, so that I don't have to do it all at the end.  I'm still committed to finishing it with the set-in alternate blocks, and that is what is piquing my interest.  I have to be very careful with every seam, and that's not my usual way of working.  The slower pace appeals to me just now, so I'm enjoying my slow progress.
I made a mockup in EQ7,so I have some idea of how many blocks I need, and how much of the setting fabric.
I need 50 blocks for this size, so I will be making these for quite a while.  The layout I've done is only 67" wide, which I don't think is enough. If I make it bigger it will need 71 blocks, ouch!   If I get sick of them I'll just put the project aside, because I don't want to ruin my enjoyment of this quilt by forcing myself to work on it.

I just might lose all self-control in a week or two and cut out something new, wouldn't that be Fun?  I'm not going to do Bonnie's mystery this year, but I just may have to make Jared Takes A Wife, I've had the materials set aside for that for months.  It will be a treat to finally cut into them.


Sunday, November 02, 2014

Finally, the batik quilt is in one piece!

It only took a half hour this morning to get those final borders on, and I'm so relieved to have it done.  It will look beautiful on my green couch, so when this is quilted it will live on the back of the lounge where I can admire the glowing colours.
 What shall I work on next?  There are plenty of UFOs left, and I'm not keen to start something new, so I will probably pick another project box from the shelf and work at that.  Once upon a time that would have bored me rigid, but for some strange reason I'm still excited about the UFO list.  I'm going to have to do a sampler of all the finished tops for this year, there are more than 20.  What an excellent year it has been for clearing up the old projects.

If I can spare the time I'd like to take a photo of every UFO, print them out and make a collage board of them.  It would be very satisfying to have a visual record of how much I've done and what is left.  Plus it might give me some ideas on how to finishe the ancient ones that need borders. I need to stare at them for a while until an idea occurs to me; when they are languishing in the cupboard I'm not even thinking about them.

It was a hectic day yesterday, fitting the screen door.  It would be easy if the doorway was square, but the opening bowed out in the middle like a barrel, so there was a lot packing needed to turn it into a rectangular shape.   It's all done now, except fitting the strike plate, and I'll do that this afternoon.  If Dolly goes charging out and hits the steel mesh at top speed I'm going to be very cross; I'm not sure it's engineered to withstand 20 kilos of excited Staffy.  I may have to attach a bar across it at her eye height, so it will stop here in her tracks. 

It's a glorious morning, so I'm off do some outside work, including getting rid of anything that could harbour snakes; twice I saw a big brown snake in the Princess lillies, so I need to clear away the old stalks and make it less attractive to him.  I'm sensible enough to leave a poisonous snake alone, but Dolly surely isn't, so I'll just have to encourage him to go elsewhere.

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