Wednesday, September 20, 2023

What happened to August?

 Good question, where did August go?


Late July I had a phone call from son Rhys; would I be willing to go to Brisbane and look after Theo when Naomi and he had to head to hospital for the birth of their baby girl? Of course, I would  have to go earlier, so Theo felt comfortable being left with a long-distance Nan, and in case the baby came earlier than predicted. Which led to me flying up on August 2nd, laden with gifts and quilts for the family. It's been two years since I flew, in the middle of Covid restrictions, and that was not a pleasant experience. However, this wasn't too bad, I wore my mask the whole time, and took advantage of wheelchair and people mover services so I wasn't really stressed. Naomi and Theo met me at the airport, and we all had a ride to the baggage pickup. 



He was pretty overwhelmed, lol.



The baby was due on the 22nd, but early on the morning of the 13th she decided it was the right time to make her entrance. They left before dawn for the hospital, and Charlotte Grace arrived just fifty minutes after they got there, so quick. They came home just 6 hours later, and Theo was very impressed by his brand new sister.



 She wasn't really interested in the toys he was showing her, but he was fascinated by her.



A week later Seonaid flew up to meet Naomi and Charli, and we had a lovely family getogether. That hasn't happened since 2018; it would have been nice to have the other 3 grandchilden too, but that would have been too expensive. Maybe one day we can make it happen.


There is a cafe right down the road from their place, so we walked down there a few times for a treat. It seemed very civilised to have a barista within walking distance.


Last time I was in Brisbane I bought Naomi a couple of pattern books for children's clothing, and set her machine up to sew nicely. Now she makes all Theo's clothes, some of her own, and is working on a wardrobe for Charli. Most of her fabric is Australian animals and flowers, and the clothes are just beautiful. When I arrived there were piles of fabric everywhere, as Naomi was deciding what fabric to use for her chosen patterns. I did feel a pang for Rhys; he was surrounded by fabric as he grew up, and now he's still surrounded by fabric. He's very supportive though, he knows its a mental health thing for us. 



Seonaid and I flew back uneventfully, and then it was pandemonium moving Seonaid and family into a new home. It's smalller, which is bad, but in a much closer location to school and kindy, which is good. There was no time for serious downsizing, so it all got moved, and Seonaid will work through the stuff stored in the garage, selling and donating. I'm just grateful they have a home, the rental market in Adelaide is appalling.


So now I'm finally back home, and trying to catch up on 6 weeks of customer quilting that was put on hold while my family came first.  I'm ploughing through them, and hopefully after the next week I can take a breather and assess the sewing room situation. I can't even remember what I was up to before I dropped everything and left.  It will take a while to sort it all out, but I'll get back to it soon.




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Friday, July 07, 2023

Catch up

Life has been such a jumble lately, I can hardly remember all the stuff that's happened. I seem to have lost a whole month and I really don't know where it went. There was a quick visit to Adelaide, home for a few days, then back to celebrate Thomas's 5th birthday. Five!! I have no idea where that time went.
Seonaid was incapacitated with a chronic back injury, so Nan was in charge. I'm a pretty mean Nan at times, but I'm too old to put up with any shenanigans. We did lots of building and drawing, and the meals were nothing special, but we all survived. Both the boys had foul colds, Thomas actually had para-influenza, so he was pretty sick. It was just a matter of time till they passed their germs on to me.

When Seonaid was better I came home, and promptly got sick. I had a couple new medications tho, so it was only 2 weeks of illness, instead of 8. It's been bitterly cold weather, which didn't help, and I've actually been staying at Mereth's place, as she's been stuck in Pirie looking after sick grandchildren. Nanna to the rescue! 

I spent a couple of hours in my sewing room, and managed to finish the Rail Fence top. it's only 60"x 60", not like Becky's huge quilt, but it's a nice size. 

Of course there are leftovers.

I'm going to sew these Spinning Rectangle blocks to use them up, and they'll be my leader-enders for the forseeable future. 


While I've been stuck at Mereth's place hiding from the cold weather I've been hand sewing at night. These Periwinkle blocks are so old, I can't even remember when I started them. I've been carting them to Adelaide as a handwork project, but I hardly ever work on them. Too tired at the end of the day, or the lighting was too bad, or I'd rather sit and talk with Seonaid.  I was stuck on 18 blocks, out of a goal of 35, and it felt like it would take forever. Four nights of sewing has seen me complete 14 blocks, with 3 more to finish, and I can't quite believe it. It's been so easy, with a good sewing setup and no distractions. I'll have to start thinking about the sashing fabric next, and that might entail a trip to the patchwork shop. Even if I find something in the stash, I think I still need a trip to the patchwork shop.

This little needle threader has proved invaluable. I know I have one of those little circular cases that holds about 10 threaded needles, so I might have to find that and put it to use. I don't want to stop the hand sewing now that I have made a habit of it.


I even finished a few little hexagons, so I'll have to prepare some more. I have about 17 now, so I'll have to start working on a setting for them.


I want to have a MAD sewing day soon, just send a hundred HSTs through the machine, and build them into these blocks. That might help clear the surfaces in the sewing room and then I might be able to tackle something from the UFO list.

In other news, my dog Dolly has come back to live with me. When I spent so much time in Adelaide my nephew took her to live with him. She's been living the high life in a remote outback resort, cadging food off all the tourists and staff, and being the welcome committee for anyone visiting. But she's over 13 now, and an old lady, so she'll see out her days with me. 

Finn and Thomas were quite frightened of dogs, so I didn't know how they'd react to her. At first Finn would climb up Seonaid as if she was a tree when Dolly got too close. That didn't last long. Pretty soon it was us saying, "Leave the dog alone!"

"She's my Bes' Fren'" he declared after a couple of days. And Dolly doesn't mind a bit.

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Monday, May 29, 2023

More playing with shirts

I'm up to 10 completed Rail Fence blocks, with the pieces cut for many more.



It's using up a satisfying amount of shirts and scraps, so I'm really pleased about that. The more it takes the better, as far as I'm concerned. But there was the box of offcuts sitting there.....


I quickly made 2 crumb blocks, to help me decide if I wanted to throw the bits out, or turn them into yet another top. Guess I'm not throwing them out.


This hexagon project has been hanging round for about a quarter of a century. It's made with .5"hexagons, using little 1"sample squares from shops. I lost interest in it, after I'd sewed that dark border bit. Hated it, set it all aside.

The other day I thought, maybe I could un-pull those dark rows and use another colour there, and actually finish this. It was just a thought, but I decided it was worth a try.

However, I seem to have sewn the hexagons together with 20 stitches a side, stitches so tiny I can't even see them without magnification. I had very good eyesight when I worked on this, and I never took it for granted. I was always grateful that I didn't need glasses, or even particularly good light to work in. I do now though. If I do decide to take those dark hexies off it will be a long process.


I could be sewing each and every night, but I've been spinning whenever the mood takes me. This was a ram fleece, so stinky all I could ever do was shut the bag up as quick as I could. But it was a lovely colour, and really long, and cheap. About three weeks ago I held my breath and crammed it into a bucket of water with a lid, and left it in the sun to marinate. Last week I pulled it out, still reeeking, washed it twice in blue Dawn dishwashing liquid, and then put fabric softener in the rinse water. Now it smells beautiful, and I've saved it from the compost pile. But it just goes to show, I can never throw anything away.

I was pleased with how even my spinning is getting, but then wondered why I would want my handspun to look just the same as commercial yarn.. It doesn't feel the same though, it feels bouncy and full of life, and it smells great too! Maybe I'll end up with enough to make a vest, that would be a great project to aim for. It's getting mighty chilly in these parts.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Last week I finished this top, and I like how it turned out. It's 62"x 70", a good size couch quilt.


I like how rustic it looks, and I like the border of random rectangles. They were cut from the 3.5"strips and the ends of the 8.5"strips that I cut for the big triangles. I'm all about using up all the scraps.

My Rail Fence is coming along nicely, I should have 7 blocks finished, but....

I shouldn't sew late at night, and in a hurry. My first thing today will be ripping out this seam and sewing it the right way. I have lots of strips cut ready for the next batch of blocks, and I'm ironing more shirts to send through the Accuquilt. I've spent hours starching and ironing shirt pieces, but it pays off when the pieces are more stable and go together more accurately.


I'm trying to get rid of everything except shirt back and sleeves, so there aren't any little bits left to store. I'm ploughing my way through the yokes, which will yield a 2" or 3.5" strip. The rest can go in the bin.


Some shirts aren't the usual check or stripe; these ones are beautiful quality, but they just don't go with the others. I think they will find their way into my regular stash. That blue paisley is just gorgeous.


I'll have to make a decision soon about whether to make string or crumb blocks from the offcuts. It's a lot of fabric to throw away, but I have to draw a line somewhere. My ordinary stash is calling to me, and I would like to get back to regular programming soon.

Last night we did something we haven't done for ages, and went for a drive at the end of the workday. The clouds were beautiful, so we drove down country roads, marvelled over old stone farmhouses, gave ourselves the creeps photographing an abandoned homestead, and then followed the water pipeline home, over more bumpy dirt roads. The sunset was just stunning. Such beautiful colours, it's the perfect end to the day.

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Monday, May 15, 2023

Shirts

 2023 is not going to be my best blogging year, I've been very lax. Maybe I can do better in the later stages of the year. I'm always disappointed when I let the blog lapse, because often it's the only record I have of how I spent my days. I must try harder.



I've been making a glorious mess in the sewing room and environs, leaping from new project to new project. I've ditched the batiks, and now I'm working on sewing down the stash of shirts. 


 It's a very scattergun approach, but ideas keep occuring to me as I sew, and I need to make a sample before I forget, so I get sidetracked. I guess I should feel guilty, but I'm having a wonderful time, so I'm not going to rein it back. I'll end up overcome with sensibility soon enough, it's time to play right now.


It all starts with other people blogging about quilts that I'm instantly drawn to. It was just such a quilt on Lovin' Life At The End Of The Dirt Road that sent me down this rabbit hole. That plaid quilt....



I began cutting from the 4 tubs of shirts that I have stashed away, and I kept cutting, and cutting....and cutting. I couldn't stop. Those big triangles are cut from an 8.5"strip, so that used up a shirt front lickety split. After I cut more than twice what I needed I came to my senses and concentrated on the smaller triangles. They are cut from 3.5"strips, and I went a bit overboard on them too.



The solution was to have a Plan B of course. 



These go together surprising well, considering how varied the shirts are, from soft flannelly cotton to crisp poplin to homespun check.


I'm going to sash them with one of the bigger shirts, just haven't decided which one yet.


Having made an excruciating mess of the shirts I decided they needed to be reduced to one tub. So I began cutting for at least three other projects (Plans C, D, and E).

The big rectangles will become a bricks quilt. The squares will be cut in half for triangles, or will become nine-patches. The little rectangles will become this quilt, that I can blame Becky at Quilted Twins for. Mine will be made from 2"x 3.5"rectangles though; her smaller size would be sheer hard work with these shirts.




After having rejected the shirts with stripes again and again, I decided to do something about them.


This fussy cutting is turning out to be loads of fun, and I can't guarantee I won't buy another couple of shirts to help me complete a whole quilt. Four of the striped shirts are cut up, but the scraps!! My gosh the scraps from them, all promising more possibilities.



I've chucked a lot of shirts too thin to use, and I've sorted what's left into more sensible categories, and I'm still cutting and cutting. It's nice to have my enthusiasm back, even if it means 5 new projects.


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Saturday, April 08, 2023

Batiks

Karen at Quilts etc recently finished her lovely Rainbow Crossings quilt. I've been following her progress on it for some time, thinking, I have that Accuquilt star die. I could make those stars. Hmmmm.....

When I bought the die I immediately made a test block, and found it so easy to put together. NO set in seams here.


But I also wondered if I could change it and make a dark star on a light background, or a light star on a dark background. the answer is, yes you can!

I'm still obsessing about using up the batik stash, so one night I ironed many, many FQs and set about cutting pieces with this die.
I still think my batik stash is too limited, there's not a lot of variety, but I don't want to take the time to build it into a really comprehensive stash. It would be too expensive, and take too much time, and I don't love them enough. But some of them are lovely....



I know a lot of quilters don't care for ironing their seams as they go, or making all their seams intersections meet, but I don't fall into that category. I love it when  everything is just right, and if I take the time to make all the units correctly then the whole block, and quilt, goes together nicely as well. 
Of course, that depends on my mood too, so if I'm in a hurry, or I don't like what I'm doing, I can mash seams and fudge with the best of them. But I do love being precise.

I have absolutely no plans for these as yet. I'm just playing at making them and combining whatever colours I feel like. I don't need to know where it's going, I just want to have fun.

The Flying Geese leader-ender blocks are multiplying quickly. I already have 160, with hardly any effort. If I had to make 160 all at once I'd complain, but I've hardly noticed these accumulating one seam at a time.

I'm aiming for this arrangement, needing 245 geese, and it won't take long to get to that number. Then I'll have the fun of choosing the fabric for the bars between them. I'd better start cogitating about that one.

The mess in the sewing room is staggering, so I think I'll spend the Easter weekend getting these blocks finished and put together. Another two rows will be enough; I'll still have to faff around with borders, but I can clear away all the pieces and rediscover my cutting table.

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Monday, April 03, 2023

Progress Report

I'm starting to spend time in the sewing room more regularly, and there is progress on  a few fronts. I've cut many strips to use in this; I still haven't tracked down a name, or thought of one, so it's just the batik quilt for now.


It uses a lot of the same fabrics as the Plus quilt that I gave to my son a few years ago, and there are pieces left over from that quilt which have found a home here. There are also a heap of pieces cut for a brown Plus quilt, so I could probably move on to that once this is finished. My mind always drifts ahead to think about what is next, and I should just be enjoying the one I'm working on.

I have 16 of these blocks now, and they'll go into a project box for now. I wanted to fine tune the piecing process, so that those seam intersections met at all the important places, but it kept eluding me. Finally I think I've nailed it, but I've used up most of the scraps I was using for this, so it can wait a while till I generate more. A big consideration in pausing this was the realisation that many of these scraps were from fabric used in my Dear Jane top. I still haven't done the border triangles, and if I use up all the scraps from that then I'll have to hunt down new fabric to finish it.  So I printed out the triangle template, and I'll start putting material aside for that.

I have 14 of these Washington Sidewalk blocks made, and the triangles cut for another 9. I love making them, but I'm confusing myself with so many projects on the go, so these also will go away at least until I finish the batik quilt. (Millhouse, made of Perler beads, supervises my sewing. My eldest grand-daughter made him for me years ago, and he still makes me smile.)

As well as trying to work on three projects I was also working on three leader-enders, which definitely contributed to the overwhelm.


 I have piles of Flying Geese, 6" blocks made of squares and some rectangle blocks to use up already pieced strips. I need to simplify it all, so I'm just going to have the Flying Geese as my leader-ender for now, and keep amassing pieces for the others.


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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Working on several projects lately

I've been trying to get projects completely finished, before I start a raft of new ones, but it's not been entirely successful. I spent a few days concentrating on bindings, which saw 2 little quilts finished.




 There are still 4 to bind, and another 2 have the binding attached, I just have to turn it to the back and machine it down. It won't take long, but I keep getting sidetracked.


I somehow started a new project, with these blocks. BlockBase calls them Good Fortune, so I guess I will too.

I love how graphic they are, and they don't use much fabric, so I'm chopping up some of my precious scraps. Pure fun.

Then I got a bee in my bonnet about my untouched batik stash, so I pulled out a heap of them and started cutting for this pattern, I don't know what it's called, but I love how it tessalates.


I'm piecing it in 8" blocks with a partial seam, and they are making me very happy too.

They need to take over the design wall, but I have many other things on it right now, so they'll have to wait until I can make space for them.

The UFO guilt got to me, so I pulled out a project box containing these blocks. 

I think they're called Washington Sidewalk, among other things. I love making this block, first started in 2016, then set aside since early 2020. Time to make some progress.


I have such a bad habit of not adding these tiny little corner triangles.  It seems such a trivial detail to work on, when all I want to do is finish more blocks, so I don't bother. Then I have a mountain of them to deal with. But I was good and did them all in one sitting, chain piecing one after another. I'm trying to be better about that from now on.

And how did our little baby turn 3 last month? He's such a character, very intense, opinionated, loving and impetuous. We call him Cyclone Finn, because he does everything at great speed, and sometimes with attendant destruction. Oh dear.

And, to stop me being maudlin about not having a little baby grandchild anymore, my son and daughter-in-law are expecting a little girl in August. I'm so looking forward to having another little girl in the family, what a blessing our grandchildren are.

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