Friday, December 21, 2018

On my last visit to see the family Thomas generously shared his cold with me.  I've been laid low for the last 10 days, surrounded by tissues and cough medicine, while the temperature outside reached silly heights of 100 degrees.  I object to having a cold when it's so hot, and summer colds often seem more severe.  I'm through the self-pitying stage, now I'm into the frustrated stage where I just want this to be over with so I can get stuff done at last.

I did tackle one UFO.  My Economy blocks were started in December 2016, and assembled a month later, and they've sat waiting for borders ever since then.  I knew I wanted Flying Geese borders, and I worked on them for a year or so in between other things.

And then it all just sat there waiting.

It took several days to try out various options, ponder which one I like the best, and then actually sew it all together.
I was stuck dithering between two choices of the width of the inner border, swapping things around on the design wall, taking photos and comparing them, agonizing over which one worked best.  Then I realized I was having such a hard time choosing because there was no 'best' option.  Both looked good, and I could choose either one.
Once I came to that conclusion I just picked the one that had appealed to me all along, and had the top finished the next day.  I make life so difficult for myself sometimes.
 It's such a wonderful feeling to finish a long term project, though it was a bit of a surprise to go back through the blog and realize how long it had been languishing. I thought the project was a year old, not TWO years.  But it's finally done, and I can move onto another one of those UFOs that have been waiting patiently.


Saturday, December 01, 2018

Another catch-up post is in order. I'm just back from 2 weeks in Brisbane, visiting family. Three visits in one year! My MIL's twin sister died, just before their 89th birthday, and we thought seeing Thomas and Isla would cheer Mum up. It was a hectic time, organising get-togethers and navigating city traffic, but it was well worth it. 

Isla really enjoyed being with the Brisbane and New Zealand family members again, and Thomas was much admired.

We stayed with DS Rhys, in an inner city suburb; his apartment is very secure, with fobs and clickers to operate doors and lifts and the garage.  I managed to deal with all that without losing anything or locking myself out of anything, but it made me long for my uncomplicated life back here.

His apartment is all modern and sleek, which makes a quilt even important, something to soften the edges and provide a bit of home comfort and love. 
I quilted a top for him, and brought it with me, as I thought it was safer than posting it.  He has a quilt I made him when he was 15, and he's loved it to pieces.
The binding is fraying; only the top layer of the double-fold binding, but it still needs to be replaced.
The fabrics are very faded and worn, I'll have to go over it and repair any weak spots.
There are actual holes in the backing, I don't think I even want to know what caused these.....
But I'm so pleased that this quilt has kept my son warm and comforted through the last 15 years, and that whenever he wraps himself up in it, he's reminded that I love him.
I told him that the more he uses the new quilt, the softer and more familiar it will become, and in a little while he'll have his old friend back,  rejuvenated for another 15 or so years.
I call that a quilting success story.


Friday, November 09, 2018

I think my favourite colour combination is blue and green.  I have made so many quilt tops from those colours that I've put a huge dent in my stash.

Picture is way too yellow, this is very blue in real life.
Batik quilt.
Scrappy Bargello 
Many Trips Around The World
My blues are looking pretty sad and inadequate these days.  However, there are several containers full of scraps from those other quilts, and I keep trying to use them up.  All that happens is that I have more quilt tops and  the scraps are still there. The recently finished Checkered Lattice gave me another pile of blue-green leftovers, and I decided to use them up in some easy patterns.  
So I cut heaps of 2.5 x 4.5" rectangles from the scrap baskets and set to work

First I made a small top of Spinning Rectangles. 
I tried to do it scrappy, but I didn't like that, so I planned it so that each pinwheel was the same fabric.  It was slower, but I was much happier with the result.
There were many rectangles left over, so I started sewing them together randomly, and made a cot sized top in stair steps..
This was much easier to put together, no worrying about what went where. .  Then I made the mistake of tipping the stair steps on point to make chevrons.

Bad idea.   I really like it like this.  A full size quilt would look wonderful, especially with lots of batiks.  I managed to resist the urge to abandon the cot quilt and jump straight into the chevron quilt.
But there are still so many pieces to use up.  These are the scraps that never end, but maybe that 's not a bad thing..  I could play with these colours forever.  In fact, I'll probably buy more on my next shopping trip. I rather think I'm going to have to admit defeat.  These colours are here to stay.


Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Yet again, my sewing space is in shambles.  I was totally distracted from my projects by the need to sew something for the shop, and a commission quilt. Of course I didn't clean up first, so now there is an extra layer of fabric and scraps and project parts on top of all the other stuff.  And I will get in and clean it up today, but very carefully, because there is a spider on the loose in there somewhere , and I am the world's biggest coward when it comes to spiders.  If I see the horrible thing again I'll be out of the room in seconds.

Last weekend we went down to Adelaide again, this time for the 21st birthday of our youngest niece.  Anna.

 She's grown into an amazing person, studying to be a ranger in National Parks.  She has an internship this summer, near Roxby Downs in The north of our state, where she'll be trapping native animals and recording numbers.  It's lovely to see her following her passions.
Whenever I see my brother Greg I remember 1977, when he had a motorbike accident on a  remote property and nearly died from a punctured lung.  He was in a coma on life support for 6 weeks, with doctors continually telling us that he wouldn't pull through.  But he did, and 20 years to the day after that accident, Anna was born. It could all have been so different, and instead we have Susie and the girls added to our family. I thank God every time we see them.

Isla was the life of the party yet again, chatting to everyone and eating whatever party food she could filch off the table.  At one point I caught her drinking a glass of Pepsi, which she's definitely not allowed to touch.  I don't want to see Isla on caffeine. She had a big conversation with Anna's Italian grandmother, Nonna.  Nonna's English is not good, and Isla was so excited she was babbling and we couldn't understand her either.  Nonna watched Isla tell a particularly intense story, with lots of hand waving for emphasis, and then said carefully 'You speaking Italian, and I speaking English!' They were so cute together.

It was also cute to see two 19 year old guys with Thomas, one holding him carefully, and the other armed with a paper napkin, dabbing off the drool with surgical precision.  Thomas was laughing and drooling in equal proportions, but the boys weren't fazed.  I just love watching all the layers and generations of family, enjoying each other and building up memories.

It was just a quick trip, we were back the next day, and now I have to tackle that sewing room. 
There are quilt finishes about to happen, if I can just get to the ironing board and the sewing machine.


Thursday, November 01, 2018

October is always a busy month in our family, so many birthdays, anniversaries and events added into the usual business.  Mereth and I decided that we were taking four days out of the calendar, and running away for our birthdays.  We went on a little road trip, just pootling our way down to Adelaide on the first day, spending two days doing fun things, then home on the fourth day. It was a fun way to spend our last days being 50 something.  From now on, we're sixty something!!

We went to Burra first, which is a tourist spot about an hour away, where we visited several antique shops, and had coffee in  a secondhand bookshop.  We were all set to leave until I spied a little room with art books, and then we stayed another hour.  Just love all the inspiration in these pages.

We had a little picnic lunch after that, then drove to Angaston, where we bought some fabric at the sewing centre there.
 That was a nice interlude, rummaging through bolts of fabric to find what we liked.  I'm glad I lost track of what I bought this year, because I wouldn't want to be adding the totals from this weekend.

Then it was on to Seonaid's place, where we were welcomed by these two.
Isla adores Mereth, I'm just background noise when she's around.  I guess she doesn't see Mereth as much, whereas I'm always showing up.  All our grandchildren call whoever isn't their real grandmother OtherNanna, which gets confusing when we're all together, so we're trying to educate them to call Mereth Nanna, and me Nan.  The difficulties of having twin grandmothers...

The next day we were off to Hahndorf, to visit the home of Hans Heyson.  He was a South Australian artist, and we've loved his work since we were teenagers, so it was a bit of a pilgrimage, and a nice way to reconnect with our younger selves.  When you're younger there's much more time to be passionate about things, and in later years that time gets taken over by everything else in life.
So it was good to stand in his studio, and remember.
He painted a picture of his wife sewing at a treadle machine, and Mereth and I bought postcards to put in our sewing rooms.  She was sewing baby clothes for their 5th child (there were 8 altogether).
It's such a tranquil image, a lovely intimate moment.
That took longer than expected, so we skipped lunch and went to the next important location; Tricia's Fabrics.  Oh we love that place, so much fabric, and the prices are pretty good too.  I was buying for projects, so I didn't go too overboard, but it was still a decent amount.
Mereth is such an enabler, I was buying half a metre of one piece, and she talked me into taking what was left on the bolt.  I'm glad now, but it made a hole in the Budget!

We grabbed a coffee from Macca's and then it was home for a birthday dinner at Seonaid's.
 She cooked 4 curries and all the accompaniments, and we had a right royal feast.
I don't know how she did it all while wrangling a toddler and a baby,  she has much better management skills than me.  None of us can plate up a meal attractively though....

The next day was local shopping, and a visit to Spotlight, where I resisted Mereth's urgings to buy a whole bolt of a lovely floral.  Absolutely not.  I added some black and whites to my stash and lots of FQs, but I was sensible.
The next day we went home, via Spotlight to buy the bolt I rejected the day before; once I looked at the docket and saw how cheap it was, I realized my mistake.
There will be a couple of backings in this piece, and it's always good to have backings on hand. Then onto Bunnings, for the obligatory Bunnings sausage for lunch, and I purchased some plug-in LED lights for my sewing room.  When I move from here, I hope my new sewing room has windows and good lighting, I"m sick of working in artificial light all the time.

And so to home, and while we enjoyed running away, it was lovely to be home again.  My sewing space is still my favourite place to be.

Turns out, being 60 isn't that different to being 59, who would have guessed?


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

My design wall is rarely empty; once a finished top has been photographed it's folded and packed away with the others (80 at the last count) and then a new project goes up.  Sometimes, in between projects, I'll use the empty wall to display some orphans or blocks that have me stumped, to see if any ideas occur to me.  If I won't be able to sew for a while those problem blocks will sit there as a background; I can see them as I work on the computer, and my subconscious will try to find a solution to my design problems.   All in all, that expanse of white wall just has me itching to fill it up again.
I wasn't ready to tackle the Economy borders, so I put the pretty tumblers back up.  It took about an hour to add the extra 2 rows of tumblers, and then I lived with it a while to see if I was happy.  I was, so the borders were cut and added. 

Another quilt that is too big for my design wall.

 Mereth looked at the inner border and said, "You have to change that, it doesn't go at all,"  but I like it.  And I pulled out every conceivable fabric trying to choose that border, and this is what I liked. I'm fond of saying "Done now" about choices that I've made.  Not unpicking, not choosing anything else, it's done now and I'm moving on.
The backing is going to be a king-sized Laura Ashley doona cover that I found in the op-shop for $2.  It's the most luxurious sateen, the perfect shade of duck egg blue, and I will have 8 metres of gold cord when I finish unpicking.  Got to love a $2 backing for a quilt this size.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Well that went together quickly at the end.  While I was sewing the blocks together I was thinking about fabric that would do for the borders,and I remembered a top I made in 2012.  I'd chosen the borders, cut the strips and sewn them into long lengths, and suddenly another fabric demanded to be the borders.  So I put the prepared borders in a drawer for later, and went with the new choices.  This top was the same colours, so maybe those old borders would work.

I went digging, and amazingly found them exactly where I thought they would be.  That doesn't happen very often around here. And my hunch was right, they were just what I had in mind for this top.

So the borders were attached in triple quick time, and now I have another top to mark off my list.
I love it when things all come together, with not a lot of effort on my part.  That means I can get started on the next project even sooner.  I think it's time to tackle the borders on those Economy blocks;  they are going to take a lot more work than this one did.


Tuesday, October 09, 2018

The North Wind blocks are on the design wall, while I try to work out a plan for the final arrangement.  I'm sewing them into sets of four, and then I'll rearrange them so that the various colours and fabric are evenly distributed.  I'd like to audition a few border ideas too,and get an idea of what the finished quilt will be.

Of course I've made things difficult for myself.  In the early days of this project I sewed some units into this block,
and some into this one. 
Now I'll have to piece them all together on the design wall, adding other units to join them into larger pieces that actually fit together.  That's one of the pitfalls with working on things sporadically over a long period of time; you forget what you were doing to start with, and carry on with something else.  Oh well, once I have them all in one piece it won't matter, it's just that I have to concentrate, instead of mindlessly sewing sets of four blocks.

I started this as a true leader-ender, just cutting up scraps and leaving them by the machine to sew in between my 'real' sewing.  They've been brilliant for that; they've stayed in the background instead of taking over, as so many of my leader-enders do.  But I have 105 blocks made, and it's time to make some decisions while  I sew the last 15 blocks.  I still have a lot of pieces cut, so I could just go full-steam ahead and get this done, or continue to sew it between other projects.  So many decisions.

It will have plain borders, there is enough triangle stuff going on in the middle, it needs a calm border to frame it all and contain it.  I'm leaning towards a greeny-brown, or a browny-green.  I just hope I have something suitable in the stash drawers, because I don't want to be visiting patchwork shops trying to find the perfect borders.  I had enough of that with the Checkered Lattice.


Thursday, October 04, 2018

I'm going to have to take stock of all the projects that are on the go, and decide which ones get put at the top of the list.  I'm not used to having so many started; I have plenty of UFOs, so I'm used to that, but these are all WIPs that I"m currently working on.  I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed, so I need to sort things out.  There are piles of pieces and stacks of fabric everywhere and I need to make some sense of it.

1.  I need to collect all the leftovers from the Farmhouse quilt and organise them so I can make more blocks for an on-point version.

There's two more boxes of bits, I probably won't have to cut any more pieces for the second quilt.

2.  Economy quilt -  finish Flying Geese for borders , design borders and add
There's a few design decisions to be made, and that's putting me off.  I jut need to get this up on the wall and work at it until I've decided what to do.  Actually sewing it will be the easy part.
3.  Shirtings Churn Dash - need to cut more strips and then pack the shirtings away

4.  Blue brown Ohio Star  - I'm loving these 6" blocks, I cut the little triangles with an Accuquilt die, which make it so easy.  They go together perfectly, despite the tiny size.
5.  Pretty Tumblers- borders - this need 2 more rows, then borders.  The fabric is all picked out, the pieces are cut, just have to put it up on the design wall. Maybe I need two design walls?

6.  Beloved - I'm saving these blocks.  I have about 30 kitted up, and fabric selected for 30 more.  I won't let myself sew them just yet, because they are such fun.  I need to do some work and finish things off before I  get back to these.
7.  Country Cousin  -  these blocks use the same pieces as the North Wind blocks, so they are my backup plan to use all the leftovers from that.  They will eventually be leader-enders, once the North Wind  blocks are done, these will take their place.

8.  North Wind - on the design wall and galloping towards a finish.  I'm sewing these and the Ohio Star blocks at the same time, and it's hard to say which is the main project, and which is the leader-ender.  Once I start joining the North Wind blocks together they will become the priority sewing.
At least I've finished the blue quilt, so that means I can pack up every last bit of blue fabric and put it away.
There are a huge number of leftover strips and scraps, and I'm debating whether I should cut them into squares or just give them to Mereth.  She's not as enamored of blue as I am, so I don't think she'll welcome all this blue.  Oh well, by the time I've finished cleaning up I will have made a decision.

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