Thursday, July 21, 2016

I've been pretty busy doing some intensive quilting over the last two weeks, but deadlines have been met, quilts delivered and I hope to have a bit of a rest this weekend. In the midst of the  heavy quilting schedule I developed an infection under a tooth and had to have that dealt with, which made me think about why I hate going to the dentist so much.

I have to admit that in my adult life I have rarely experienced much actual pain while having dental work, but in our childhood, the '60's era, there was one local dentist who was known as "The Butcher". As children, we didn't know that, and our Mum just told us to be brave, so we endured visits to him as best we could. He didn't believe in analgesics for anything but removing a tooth, and my terror of drills is directly traceable to him. If you flinched he growled "Be still!" and kept on going. He was fierce and smelly and had wiry hair growing out of his hands, but I can't remember his face except for horn rimmed glasses, because it was better if you kept your eyes shut.

Looking back I really think he might have been a sadist, and enjoyed the pain he inflicted on us. I thought he might have been better with adults, but our SIL went to him as a young woman and he was so horrible she never went back.

I don't think Mum ever knew how much pain he caused, and in our family you didn't complain, you just dealt with things. When we were in primary school a Dental Clinic opened in another school and we were all trucked over there en masse. They discovered so much work to be done it was genuinely astonishing, but no-one complained because at least they were preferable to the Butcher (and I think it was free). I can remember Mum wondering why our teeth were suddenly so bad, but years later a teacher from that time told me one of the dentists from that clinic admitted they were all training, and did a lot of the work "for practice". Again, no one complained or got a second opinion.

In my adult life a lot of those fillings fell out and had to be repaired, and one tooth broke repeatedly until there was nothing much left to save. So I wanted it removed, despite the very nice young dentist's offers to try and save it.

While I was waiting in the chair I thought of a story our older neighbour had told me years before. She was a child in the thirties, and they were very poor, living in a little cottage 12 miles from town. When she was ten or eleven she developed a raging toothache and after putting up with the agony for a day she and her mother set out to walk along the train lines into town. This was marginally shorter than the road, and they walked all the way there; someone (probably the barber) pulled out the tooth with no painkillers, and then they walked all the way home. She was grateful because the pain was so much relieved, and while she realised that it seemed quite barbaric she said that's what you did in those days.

So while I was sitting there enduring the pushing and pulling and having a tooth with very stubborn roots removed, I thought of her and was thankful for modern dental practice, and I may have cursed those trainees from my childhood a bit too.


Friday, July 15, 2016

 My next UFO to be tackled is this applique project from about four years ago. While I adore hand applique I hadn't done much for a long time, and I wanted something easy to get me back into the swing of it. This photo in a book caught my eye, and I decided to make small blocks, and only twelve, just for practice.

(the book was this one..)

It was a great plan, but somehow when I was drafting the leaves the points got a bit sharp and it turned out that they were a bit of a pain to do and the whole thing got a bit unenjoyable and it was thrown into a container at the back of the cupboard.

Every now and then I'd pull it out and tell myself sternly "It's only twelve blocks, and they're tiny! Come on, pull yourself together." I'd add a few leaves, hate it all over again and back into the cupboard it would go.

Eventually there were only three blocks left to do and I bribed myself with all sorts of rewards to finally get them finished. YaY!! Lesson learned I hope, don't draw shapes that I'm not happy sewing. I don't know quite what it was about these leaves, I've sewn many skinny points before but this shape was not nice to do.(Perhaps the fabric was too thick to turn under easily, who knows.)

I spent a couple of hours finding a faded pink for the sashing, and now I'm trying to work out the colouring for the nine patches in the setting, and whether I'll have solid green pieces in the border. Finally I'm having some fun!


Friday, July 08, 2016

 I've been doing some customer quilts that were very involved, and I can't post them here because their owners want their Show and Tell to be a surprise, so here are some photos of a little quilt I did a while ago.

I've never said much about our other job of being posties because we have to think about people's privacy. While a lot of our experiences are funny, they might be litigation worthy if we wrote about them here!  I love the fact that everyone recognises us and says hello; it's been great being part of our little town like this for six years now. I always said I didn't want to do a seventh year, and hopefully we've found a way to quit without leaving our nice bosses in the lurch. If it doesn't quite work out I might help out a bit, but the writing is on the wall. I don't want to be riding a motorbike when I'm retirement age! Still a long way off, but our predecessors were in their sixties and seventies.

It's also made the quilting job harder to fit in, and we're hoping that we'll be increasing our output dramatically from now on. I'll miss the job in lots of ways, the chats with people, seeing the gardens change from season to season, the dogs that just adore me and wait to get their pat every day. One beagle insists on standing up and giving me a kiss every time I see her, and if I ride past I can hear her howls of protest all down the street.It's mostly been a laugh, although this winter has tried our sense of humour..

We've been pretty lucky and only had a few really rotten days with being rained on, but this year has been particularly wet. There are teams of technicians digging up the footpaths installing the National Broadband Network and I unsuspectingly rode into a patch of soupy mud that swallowed the back wheel before I could get out. (We have no paved footpaths in our town). I couldn't put the sidestand down and go get help because the whole thing just sank sideways so I yelled at some guys in the distance who came and helped lift the bike out. (They are 110 ag bikes and weigh a lot more than you'd think)

As you can see by my grin I considered it funny at the time, but it makes me think about the possibility of injuries and the increasing weight of parcels and all the less appealing aspects of the job. These hands were made for more creative purposes than dragging cartons of wine around.

 I have lots of good memories and I'll remember in particular the amazing events, like having a kangaroo jump in front of the bike, or riding down a country road lined with gumtrees and being joined by a flock of pink galahs, who flew next to me as if they were enjoying the race. Both things that I wouldn't have experienced standing at the longarm!


Sunday, June 26, 2016

I'm sewing another set of blocks together and it didn't seem to be flowing smoothly. I'm loving how the blocks look together, but something wasn't quite right. I finally worked out that it's my leader-ender project that is slowing me down!

I'm making Bonnie's Garden Party, and all the little 1 1/2" pieces are great for chewing up those scraps, and the tiny seams make the units mount up quickly. I'm using orange for the setting blocks instead of red, and they went together fast and kept things moving along. I've made 49 of them and I'll need more but I decided to make a start on the alternate blocks as well.  As soon as I started on the cross blocks I seemed to slow down to a crawl, which slowed down my other project too.

Once I realised that, I examined what was going on, and found that I don't like just grabbing bits out of a huge tray of cut pieces. The orange blocks are totally random and I'm fine with that, but I wanted the cross blocks to use only two contrasting fabrics(besides the white). I seemed to spend a lot of time trying to find a particular colour or a missing square, or discovering that there weren't actually enough pieces of that matching fabric.

So this afternoon I sat down and sorted the whole mess out; I put all the corner bits together so that I can sew them as  units, and added the centre square so that it didn't get used in another block. Then I added the light squares for the corner so that it was all in one little pile ready to go.

I'm so much happier now that I can see where I'm going with this and I can make a rough count of how far along I am and how much more to cut. This tray will live next to the sewing machine, and I'll just pick up a little bundle and sew that together in between the seams of my other project. No more scrabbling around....The only danger is that it looks so tempting I'll have to stop myself sewing them all up at once.
And in other news, I finally bound my Floribunda quilt, it's only a year since I quilted it! I love finishing the binding, I don't know why I put it off.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

 While I have started a couple of new quilts this year, I'm really trying to finish up old projects. These Economy blocks were made years ago to use up some blue scraps, but even making sixty of them didn't deplete the blue container much. I think there was more cream homespun used than anything else; the scrap pile of that fabric did go down quite a bit.

I pulled out twelve blocks as being far too dark (now I have to make another little top using them...) and chose a sandy beige setting fabric that's been in the stash for a very long time. I really like the understated effect of just one colour family (blue) and a single fabric for the setting. I raided Keryn's stash for another half a metre when I didn't have quite enough; it's handy having a backup source of free material if I run out. And she has access to my containers too if she needs something.

I made the border about an inch wider than the sashing, and put a 3" square in square block in each corner.

If I bind it in the sandy colour then all of that fabric will have been removed from my stash, and Keryns too. That's a win, and I've already chosen some backing material so that's about eight  metres gone in total. It's not much, but every little bit helps.


Monday, June 13, 2016

 The last two months have been crazy busy, including the birth a Keryn's first grand-daughter and Izzies second birthday. While Keryn was away fulfilling her nanna duties with Isla Rose, I did her postie round as well as mine, worked in a friend's cafe and tried to keep up with the customer quilting and family time.
I did keep piecing and achieved things in the sewing room but I haven't had time to take decent photos and blog about it. Hopefully life will be a bit quieter from now on!

Izzy's party was a great chance to catch up with the relatives who live in Adelaide, including my three grandsons. The latest, Eddy, was a bit of a shock because he's grown into a gigantic baby since I last saw him. I honestly could not hold him for long, unless he was resting on a table or the back of a chair. Completely breastfed too- what will he be like when he's eating food?

This is Keryn holding him- he's only five months old but what a big boy!

Izzy looked adorable in her butterfly wings but it was so cold that she had to wear them over her jacket.

I love this photo of her and Uncle Rob, so cute.

It eventually got too much for her and she had to have a nap, it's tiring being the birthday girl.

Now if I can just manage to take some half way decent photos of what I'm working on, I can resume normal blogging....


Tuesday, May 03, 2016

 I finished another small top, again set with white but at least it shows up on my green design wall. I started this last November I think, to use up some bright scraps and blogged about it here. I did expect this to be the first top to be finished this year because it wouldn't have taken much time at all, but somehow other projects got in the way. Last weekend I was determined that it would be finished before May began, and it only took me a few hours.

Lori in South Dakota had finished her quilt and written to remind me to check the way the ribbons were twisting- she discovered her mistakes too late. My top was much smaller than hers, but I nearly went cross-eyed checking and rechecking the orientation of the blocks before I sewed them up. My ribbons are set in a mirror image, while Lori's strips were all facing the same way, so they are slightly different, but still easy to put in the wrong direction. I'm pleased with the effect, and think this will make a nice cheery crib quilt for someone.


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