Thursday, January 31, 2019

I doubt that my scrap project is going to become a Leader-Ender.  I just want it done and all the scraps dealt with; I gave Mereth two lots yesterday and I don't regret that at all.  One was my collection of triangular scraps, which I've been meaning to cut into useable sizes for years.  Hasn't happened, so I gave it to her, and she probable went home and did it straight away.  We are very different in our attitude to scraps.  The other lot was 1.5" strips that were short, and I was sick of trying to use every last scrap, so now they're gone.  I'll be cutting more 1.5" strips to finish this quilt, but I"m fine with that.

I like going through my stash drawers, weeding out any bits that are an eighth of a metre, and then cutting them into strips or HSTs.  That seems like progress, and fun, but using up every last ragged strip is not what I love.  I don't like having to work with random colours, just because that's what is left in the scrap bag.  I've made some scrap quilts that I thought were genuinely ugly, and I don't  have enough time left to make ugly quilts.  Even if I'm quilting into my 80s or 90s, I want to make beautiful quilts, not ones just for the sake of using up the fabric.

One of my problem with scrap quilts is that I'm not comfortable until I've made a pattern out of the randomness. I wasn't enjoying the layout of these blocks because it was such a mish-mash of colours and values, so I decided that I would make blocks with a medium value square in the centre,

then link them with a pieced sashing that contained only lighter squares.
That calmed it all down in my eyes, and I'm happily working away at finishing the blocks now.

Another problem to solve was the triangles at the edge of the quilt. 

I ended up using a pieced triangle to finish the edge. and I like how that looks.  I can get so hung up on a detail that I can't do anything else until I've worked out a solution.  Another way that Mereth and I are different.  She would go on calmly making blocks until the solution presented itself, and I'm all about forcing the issue to be solved.  Do I have control issues?  I think that I'm scared it will become a UFO if I don't deal with it straight away.

I have almost all the blocks I need for this quilt now, due to some epic late night sessions, so I'm looking for ward to putting it all together. 
I need 14 more ninepatches, hopefully these pieces will be enough or I'll have to keep cutting and sewing. If I end up with two many leftover strips I have plans to make another of these with the light-dark values reversed.  And I have a couple other patterns in mind if I have anything left after that.  But there's no way I'll be doing them as Leader-Enders.
I rather think I'll go back to these 3.5" Puss In The Corner blocks as my leader enders; I still have plenty of them kitted up, and they are so quick to put together.  I always have a Plan B.


Sunday, January 27, 2019

Since January 1st I've been mulling over the state of the sewing room, and my stash, and what I want to achieve.  Every year I have a meltdown over my scraps, and either try to conquer them, or give them away to Mereth, and yet I still have boxes of bits and pieces cluttering up the place.  It irritates me, and yet I feel this need to deal with them, not simply pass the problem onto Mereth (she doesn't see it as a problem, but she has even less room than I do, and she doesn't need to be overwhelmed by my cast-offs).

I tried really hard to choose a block that would use up a heap of scraps.

This one was on the design wall for about a week, while I tried to work out why I didn't like my fabric choices.  Still don't like them, but still don't know why. Too dark, too murky, who knows.

I tried a different way to piece the block, in different colours.
Then I tried this block, which I do love, but I just couldn't get a handle on the colours I wanted for it either  It was easy to cut, and easy to sew, and I love the block itself, but I still couldn't throw myself into it. And as I discovered, you have to make sure all the blocks are spinning in the same direction.  Plenty of room for mistakes there. Sigh.

Then, as I continued to find boxes of strips and units and scraps and offcuts and remnants of other projects, I realised that I was actually trying to make a new project with those stars, not use up all my scraps.  Each star used 18" of a 2.5" strip, and most of my scraps are narrower than that.  I was fussing over the colours and actually cutting new strips for it. It was never going to help my existing scrap problem.

I've done a lot of quilts that use 3.5 and 1.5" strips in the last few years, with all the resulting leftovers. I needed a pattern that would use those up, and that would be random enough that I wasn't constantly trying to match colours, and that would use a heap of the pieces already leftover from other quilts. And was simple.  I was trying to be too clever, trying to choose the 'perfect' block that would make all my scraps disappear.

Once it occurred to me that I needed a pattern that would use all these existing bits together, without the need to cut lots of new pieces, I remembered a favourite pattern from long ago, from this book.

It's so easy, just Rail Fence and 9-patch blocks.
I made this pattern, about 20 years ago, and it was DD's bed quilt for many years.
It's an easy pattern to piece, and will be perfect as a Leader-Ender. It's nothing earth-shattering, but it will use up those scraps and help me clean up the sewing room.  Now that I've decided, I just need to get sewing.


Saturday, January 26, 2019

We've survived another heat wave, which is exhausting, but it's summer after all.  There were new records set all over our state, with 49°C at Pt Augusta where my brother lives, and 48.6° here.  That's 120° and 118°F , and that is just beyond a joke. The best way to get through these hot days is to focus on sewing and forget how uncomfortable it is. My sewing room doesn't have air-conditioning, but the workshop does; when I get too hot to function I can take a pile of stuff over to the workshop.  Dolly likes the air-conditioning more than I do, she's always ready to head on over there. Poor old girl feels the heat, she doesn't cope well with our fierce summers.

Flaked out on the camp bed in the workroom; she doesn't look happy....

My AC usually quits once it gets over 42°, so I had to spend the really hot day at Mereth's, in her tiny air-conditioned lounge room, with her and Matt and the three dogs.  We watched YouTube clips all day, and while it was better than being out in the heat, it made me realise how much I like to be Doing Things, not just sitting and watching. We watched a lot of videos of crafts in Ireland, a series from the '70s, and it was fascinating, but I'd rather be doing things myself.

With that in mind, I'm going to try and prepare a lot of projects that I can just pick up and work on here and there.
 I started a hand-piecing project last year and never touched it again, so I pulled that out and I've put in a few hours stitching.   
I need to mark a lot more pieces and then it will be easy to sew in odd moments of time, when I'm trapped in the air-conditioning.

I also want to make some small quilts this year, no bigger than 24".  Everything I do turns into a big quilt, and a marathon effort, and it would be nice to just play with little pieces and finish a small quilt in a day or two. Plenty of people in blogland have committed to one small quilt a month, and I feel like I'm quite capable of that. 

I definitely want my quilting to be more fun than it has been lately.  I always enjoy my sewing, but it's not playful.  I get so focused on getting through the project that I forget to just relax and see where the ideas take me.  I'd like to try more techniques, more string piecing, more crumb piecing, more paper piecing, more applique.  I already have projects started in all those techniques, so I need to pull them out and see if I can make them more enjoyable, and therefore more likely to be finished.

I intend to catalogue all my UFOs this year, 27 at the last count, and make a plan for getting them further towards completion.  The number of them doesn't bother me, but I'd like there to be newer UFOs at the end of the year, not the same ones that have been hanging around for 10 years or more.  I still love most of them, so it just needs some organisation on my part to get them done.

I haven't decided on a word for 2019, but I think it might be Commit.  I want to decide on a course of action, and then actually DO it.  If I actually commit myself to doing something, then it will lead to results.  Unfortunately, I let myself get derailed and distracted too often. Maybe this year I can focus on actually carrying through on all my good intentions....


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Hello 2019, you sprang up on us  out of nowhere.  I didn't even have time to think about the end of the old year, I was too busy with little people and family, travel and adventures, wild weather and storms.  I'm hoping for some quiet time to get my house in order, literally.

I spent Christmas Day with the family in Pirie, which was crowded and fun, with a traditional hot midday meal.  That's not what our side of the family does for Christmas, but Liz and her 2 sisters were hankering for their childhood traditions, so we had roast pork, roast turkey, roast ham, with all the trimmings, plus plum pudding.  It was very nice, but such a lot of work on a really hot day, catering for 8 adults and 5 children.  We all agreed that if we won Lotto we'd have a white Christmas in Canada with the biggest roast dinner ever! And kitchen staff to do all the work....

I drove down to Shonny's place on Boxing Day, which is actually a really nice day to travel, as everyone else is sitting at home with a food hangover instead of being on the roads. Shonny and Co, spent Christmas at Hayden's family home, and arrived home after I did, and then we had another round of presents and play and a meal of all our favourite things.  Hayden's Christmas Thing is a huge plate full of leg ham, with 2 or 3 sliced tomatoes.  Nothing else, no salad or bread or condiments.  He had to text a picture of his plate to his grandfather, who demanded that each Christmas and started the tradition for Hayden. Family history is all so different.

The next two days were very idle, just playing with the kids and making sure no-one in the house was hungry for even a moment.  And then we were off on an adventure, back to Pirie with the camper trailer for four days, ready to see in the New Year.

It amazes me that such spacious living quarters are contained within this trailer, and that it only takes two hours to transform it. 

The kitchen is at the front, two bedrooms behind that.

Shonny and Hayden worked as a team putting it up, and I played with Isla and Thomas and kept them safely out of the way. As soon as it was all done the kettle went on for coffee, it was all very civilised.
The kitchen area is amazing, the sink and stove swing out from the trailer, and it's ready to go. 

We stayed at a caravan park on the beach front, at a powered site; we had fans and lights, and a camping fridge, so we weren't roughing it entirely, but I think I'm too old to do without some comforts.  The fans were essential, as the temperature was in the high 30's every day and the tent got extremely hot without any airflow.

The first night a huge storm broke overhead, the loudest thunder I've ever heard, louder even than a tropical storm. The lightning was constant, the whole park lit up with pale purple and gold light and the sky an electrical firestorm.  Very beautiful, but frightening for the kids, and rain was pelting down.  The storm trundled off over the hills eventually, grumbling like a bad-tempered herd of cattle, and we finally got to sleep.

We spent the next two days relaxing, taking the kids to the pool and the beach. It's lovely to have no plans, no agenda, no place that you have to be by a certain time. The only plan was to watch the New Year's Eve fireworks on the beach with Mereth's family, and that's what we did.

It was sooo noisy, but Isla loved it.  Thomas slept through everything, didn't hear a thing.

It was a lovely holiday break, lots of family time and the kids enjoyed all the adventures.

New Year's Day saw us packing up the camper early, and they set off for home while I was off back to my home.  The temperature soared into the realms of the ridiculous, 44°C is too hot in anyone's language; 111°F is insane. It's finally cooled down, so I might be able to get into the sewing room and get something achieved, after a lengthy break. It's time to take stock of 2018, and have a think about where 2019 is likely to take us.  More quilts, more fabric, more family, more fun.  Onward!!

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