Friday, November 25, 2022

Catch Up

 I've had a busy few weeks, lots of appointments and a bit of travel. Most of November is just a blur at this stage, I'm hoping that going through my photos will jog my memory of what I've been up to.

There was a trip to Adelaide to drop my machine off at the repair shop. They have changed location, and are now situated in the Adelaide hills, which rather dismayed me. It's an hour away from Shonny's house, up a terrifyingly steep, 6 lane highway that gives me conniptions. There have been so many dreadful accidents on that stretch, a lot involving trucks that have lost their brakes. I put my anxiety to one side and tackled it, and my dear little car laboured up the incline. The down lanes on the other side were full of emergency vehicles attending a truck that had gone into an arrester lane's brakes had failed. I hate going near that stretch.

I was following Google maps instructions and it was frustrating to be told "Continue straight on Mt. Barker Rd. Take the next left to stay on Mt Barker Rd. Turn right to stay on Mt. Barker Rd. " The only left turn was onto a church frontage, so I missed it, had to circle back, and discovered a little lane that led off to my destination. It was all very pretty, but nerve wracking. We'd just had an enormous storm, so the roadsides were lined with fallen branches and whole trees sawn into manageable pieces. It must have been frightening to listen to all those trees come down.

The machine was delivered, and Google directed me to go the long way home because of current traffic conditions. That way led straight past Costco, so I happily agreed to that. Down the hill I went, past the truck still stuck in the arrester lane with a single police car still in attendance, past lines of trucks crawling down the hill and hoping their brakes wouldn't fail, and finally on to flat land again with a sigh of relief. I'm just not cut out for city traffic, and I never was. I don't know how thousands of people commute up and down that hill every day, I'd be a mess.

I spent a couple of days with the grandkids, who were overjoyed to see me after such a long break. I get three excited conversations going all at the same time, as they try to tell me all their news. I miss them so much, but the sad fact is they pass on all their cold germs to me, so I can only visit when they're all healthy. Between school and childcare germs, that's not often.

I've been sewing on a secret project, and my sewing room is a catastrophe. This project has a deadline, so I'm not bothering to clean up, just cutting and sewing and squinting at things on the design wall. I'm making progress, and hopefully it will be done by the end of November and I can go back to my own projects. I can't even remember what I was doing, it will be enjoyable to excavate old projects when I finally clean up.

My Home Oxygen Therapy set up was delivered, and I've been using it whenever I get breathless; it's made a big difference I'm happy to say. I was feeling a bit like an invalid as I read the booklet that came with it, and then at the back there was a section on Oxygen Therapy for Children. That made me stop feeling sorry for myself. I can't imagine how bad it would feel to have a child requiring oxygen, so I'm grateful that no-one in our family has to deal with that. I'm going to keep thanking God that my family are healthy and that this set up is working for me. (If you haven't read my blog before, I have a chronic lung condition, caused by ...... Budgies! I'm allergic. Who knew that was a thing?)

Turns out I didn't take many photos in the last 3 weeks. The last quilting photos were of Scrappy Mountain Majesty blocks, made from my 8.5" squares. 

I didn't get very far with them, before my commission quilt took over. But there are a few more to add to the pile.

I'm still sewing checkerboard blocks, as leader enders, but I haven't cut the black triangles for them.

 They're just strips of squares, waiting till I can clean off my cutting table and get back to it. 

And I've quilted 4 quilts with the new software, including one of my own, and it's starting to feel familiar.

 Now I need to teach Mereth how to use it, and she's reluctant. I made her video me setting the pattern for her quilt, so if she gets stuck in future she can watch it and see what I did. Fingers crossed there are no dramas there. 


Saturday, November 05, 2022

Fussy Cutting

 I've been making a collection of fabric I think would be good for fussy cutting. 

I toyed with the notion of making a Patchwork Of The Crosses quilt, but I haven't actually begun one. I linked to a pinterest board of beautiful examples, very inspriring, but that hasn't motivated me to start yet.

In 2015 Temecula Quilt Company did a quilt-a-long called Little Gems, using the Jewel shape. I loved it, but just tucked that idea away, along with all the fussy cutting fabric. Last month I decided that either I start a project, or I put all that fabric back in it's respective stash drawers and call it quits. I'm not ready to give up just yet, so I got busy with templates and needle and thread. English Paper Piecing hurts my hands, so I'm just sewing them together on the drawn line.

I have a bolt of this coverlet print, sent to us in a job-lot of cheap fabric bolts. I think fussy cutting this will make some lovely motifs, and I won't cry over the fabric that gets wasted. I have 9 metres, and I never wanted any of it!

This Anna Griffin fabric is full of possibilities. It's very pale, but setting it with darker fabric could work.

Swiss cheese. 

This William Morris style fabric is my favourite, I wish I had a bolt of this so I could make a large quilt of these lovely rosettes. I only have 2 metres, which will make quite a few motifs, but I wouldn't get a border from it as well. 

There are a lot more fabrics in the box, but they don't really go together, so I will probably have to use them in separate projects. Next time I go shopping I might try and find more prints that work with these, instead of buying random prints. And I need to start pondering the setting I'd like. It's a nice change from machine piecing, restful, but exciting when the central pattern emerges. It's like Stack'n'Whack, unplugged.


Thursday, November 03, 2022

 We've had a spate of equipment problems lately, from software to computers to cables to sewing machines, and I'm ready for some quiet time where I don't have to try and fix something. 

The major problem was the Statler computer finally refusing to turn on, which we knew was coming. It was 16 years old, which is ancient for a computer, and we babied it along for several months, but the day came when there was just a blank olive green screen when we tried to turn it on. Luckily I'd already researched a replacement, so I rang up and ordered that, it arrived in 4 days, and we were ready to go again. There was a minor drama with our monitor, but a new HDMI cable fixed that. The computer is preloaded with the latest Statler stitching software, so I will have to learn how to use it while I do the next batch of customer quilts. They say learning new stuff keeps you young, but I just end up tearing my hair out.  Hopefully I can pick it up quickly.

I did the first customer quilt today; there were some tense moments when I couldn't work out how to use the new software, but I got there in the end. Mereth was treated to a whole slew of exclamations; "What the....!  Where is the ...? Oh never mind, there it is. What on earth??? That's ridiculous!!  Oh, I see what it does.... That's actually pretty cool...." I keep reminding myself that in 3 months time I'll probably wonder why I had such a hard time with it.

Mereth bought a laptop, and I've been trying to load stuff on that. My head is so full of passwords and usernames and protocols and things that need to be downloaded for anything to work. I feel like a dinosaur, I'm so out of date.

The worst thing was my Janome 6500 seized up (again) and now I'm sewing on my old Bernina Record. 

She's a dear old girl, but she can't be hurried, so I have to slow down and match her speed. It made me realise how quickly I sew, I'm always in a hurry. It's quite pleasant taking things at a more leisurely pace, but I'll be glad once I have my 6500 back. It should be 3 weeks till I can take it in to my favourite repair shop, and I'll just have to deal with Bernie in the meantime.

It's been hard to fine tune the quarter inch seam allowance, even though Bernie has a proper quarter inch foot. My eyesight is getting worse, and I'm finally on the list for cataract surgery early next year. They do one eye a time, so it will be a bit dodgy until the second one is done, but I have a contingency plan.  I'll string piece and improv piece when I can't see to do detail work. I'm amassing a folder of string pieced quilts, so when the time comes I'll have lots of choices.

I'm working on (yet) another checkerboard quilt.  Mary at Country Threads showed a quilt made by a reader, and I loved it. (Scroll down to the checkerboard with the black background).

It will use up a lot of those pesky oranges and yellows that I have too many of, and it's perfect to sew on Bernie while I get used to her foibles. I'm using 2"strips, but the original looks like it's made with 1"squares.  I'm not willing to go smaller while I'm struggling to see; I'll make fewer blocks, and they will be roughly 10.5".  A checkerboard is one of the few patterns where a consistent seam allowance is perfectly acceptable, even if it's not exactly a quarter inch. I'm having lots of fun, and I've chopped up a huge number of scraps. 

Rust, orange, yellow, lots of warm colours. But I'm also throwing in greys and reds for a bit of interest.

I would rather have these fabrics as 2"strips than cluttering up the scrap drawers; I'm far more likely to use them once they're cut.

And I do have another pattern in mind, to use up the leftovers. I always have a Plan B....

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