I can't believe it's a month since I blogged anything. How does life get so crazy at this time of year?
Adding to the craziness is Matt's christmas present, a Staffordshire bull terrier puppy. Mac is 7 weeks old and utterly adorable, but I'm wasting so much time with him I'm not getting anything done. Oh well, they're only little once, and we have to spend time bonding with him, don't we?
All the staffies I've ever known love to lie like this. I suppose the tiles are cool on his tummy, but he looks like a very strange frog, doesn't he?
I have to share my favourite chair now, which isn't too bad when he's still tiny, but in a few months it won't be so comfortable.
I hope everyone has a merry Christmas and I'll be back soon with more regular posts. I'm off to drink Baileys and spend time with my boys.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
I can't believe it's a month since I blogged anything. How does life get so crazy at this time of year?
Friday, November 24, 2006
Marcie has been inspired to try her own version of my block from this post a while back. I love her blocks and I'm so tempted to start a new set of my own. Back when I made them there were hardly any reproductions available in Australia and I used my 'best' fabrics... Now I look at them and go Ugh! How Boring! But that was all I had to work with. I could do them much better now......
My blocks were all done by hand, and I'd machine sew them if I did them today, but I'd still just cut heaps of fabrics and 'audition' each piece in the block. Like Marcie says you get some lovely surprises that way.
I must NOT start another project! Especially one I've already done! I'm trying to nerve myself to show you the stack of blocks that didn't even make it to the stage of being a proper ufo, with brothers and sisters and an aspiration to be a finished something one day. I quite often grab some scraps and make a block to try out some scribble on graph paper, and a lot of these are non-starters. They just get put in the drawer as reference and I was amazed to see how many there were. I shall have to do a proper 'orphan' quilt with all these one day, but a lot of them are uninspiring. But they'd make a charity quilt I suppose, and they'd at least be out of the drawer and being used.
You can't see it from this photo, but there's over 60 blocks here! That's enough for two orphan quilts. Sometimes I prefer not to know these things, now I'll feel guilty about adding more blocks to The Drawer.
It seems ages since I posted, don't know why I've been so neglectful. I have been busy organising my fabrics, an activity that can absorb me for days at a time. I love having it in drawers rather than stacking tubs, which were too hard to lift off each other as I have a back problem at the moment. So I felt totally justified in taking time off to categorise and straighten all my supplies and make then easier to manage.
I'd like to say that's ALL my fabric in those 30 drawers, but of course I'd be lying....
In the course of my rummaging I went through a lot of my ufos and set together these blocks as a bit of distraction. I finished them years ago and had been looking for the perfect setting material. Everything I tried turned the blocks to mush and they sat in a pizza box waiting.....waiting...
Then Keryn sent me 5 yards of material that was on special at Spotlight (sort of like Joanne's in America) and the inspiration to try the two together struck me. Perfect!! This is why I don't mind letting projects 'lie fallow' for a while. (OK, years in some instances.) I'd rather wait for the perfect fabric and get it right than finish something with a poor choice, just to get it 'done'.
This will have some sort of pieced border around it next- back to the drawing board- but I'm enthused about getting it this far after being stalled so long.
These blocks are special to me because I pieced a lot of them during one of my middle son's hospital stays. At eleven he was diagnosed with type one diabetes and when he was 16 had to spend a week in a hospital 150 miles away to stabilise his insulin regime. I packed up all my cut pieces, knowing I'd have to have something to keep me busy for that time, and as I sat with him and watched telly I pieced over half of these. It's strange that some of the staff seemed to think I was mad and wasting my time, and yet the people who sat doing nothing at all (except staring at the telly-urgh) were treated as 'normal'.
I prefer my madness thankyou.....
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
One of Mum's cacti has this incredible huge red flower, and there are about 5 more on the same plant. Very spectacular, but I've got no idea what it's called. Pudgy hand included for scale....My trip to the quilt shop yielded some fat quarters and 2 metres of a likely material for the setting squares. I shan't show it here until I've decided whether it's the One.
Don't know what this haul will be used for, none of them are really exciting but they go with collections that I'm amassing for certain projects. I'm in a constant state of being 'With Project', so I'm always on the lookout.
Let's just say I think I'm a bit out of control with the square in square units. I've done 27 blocks and yet I've got more of the little units than when I started. And I can't stop cutting more out!! You can partly see a red and cream block that I got side-tracked with, ahem, I might be making a set of them too.....As well as two other ideas I had, but I'm not saying nuthin about them....
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Hedgehog asked what the name of the block was in the border and I'm not really sure. I've seen it called Flyfoot and I like that name so I haven't bothered to research it . I have no idea what the centre block is called at all.
I'm off to an antiques fair today, and a visit to a really nice quilt shop. I hope to get a setting fabric for my square in sqare blocks which are almost all done. Another top well on the way. And I confess I've also been working on a couple of other blocks made from the same units; I'm a wee bitty obsessed at the moment. Obsession can be a Good Thing, can't it?
Thursday, November 02, 2006
On Lucy's blog she reduced 5 UFOs to one by combining them all into a new top. That reminded me I did something similar years ago by combining these two projects. The border used 30 blocks, which surprised me, I actually had to make more to get it done. I like the result, and I might go through my old UFOs and see if I can combine any of them, somehow this top doesn't have the guilt value that the unfinished blocks had on their own.
I loved the look of Lucy's quilt, because there were so many different blocks in there, whereas this looks quite planned. I obviously need to be a bit more 'maverick".
This top was made in the long ago age when I did just about everything by hand, with templates. I loved the centre block, and now I'm tempted to make another top so I can use rotary cutting and machine sewing. That's silly, I don't need more of these blocks, but it would be so much easier....
It was a much more pleasurable process in some ways, but I just don't have the time now. Nevertheless, I loved handpiecing them in front of the telly at night and cutting out every fabric carefully and choosing the colours for each combination . I think I'm going to limit my handwork to applique, because that's something I will never do by machine.
And here's a quilt from my favourite book, Legacy, by Nancilu Burdick, about her grandmother Talula Gilbert Bottoms. This 'Throw-Together' quilt was made by Talula's mother-in-law Elisa Bottoms and is dated 1875 - 1890. I adore this quilt, so full of scraps and the start of quite a few quilts, all combined when another cover was needed and married together out of necessity. I love making my quilts, I love choosing and cutting and buying the reproductions to make traditional designs, but who could ever capture the integrity of an old quilt like this, made from necessity and hardship? Even though I'm Australian I feel that this is part of my quilt heritage too, quilts like this are the reason why I'll always be grounded in the traditional rather than the modern. Just love it.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
The customer quilt is finished, Yay!!!! I had to quilt it really simply because they didn't want me to stitch over all the embroidered messages. That meant a lot of empty space and close quilting in the border would have pulled it in too much. So I just did a sort of wonky vine and left it at that.
As a reward I let myself make lots more of my new blocks, don't they look fun?
Some of the browns are mouthwatering, yum!
I'm having a lot of fun with these blocks, and can hardly wait to get the setting material and turn them into a top. Some quilts are enjoyable from start to finish, and this looks like being one of them.
I know Keryn will study these photos closely and then mutter "I didn't get any of that brown, OR that one....".
I'll give you the scraps, I promise!
Monday, October 23, 2006
Happy Birthday me. Whenever I tell people that Keryn and I have different birthdays they all assume that we must have been born around midnight, and about ten minutes apart. But Keryn was born at ten on Tuesday morning and I was born 36 hours later at ten on Wednesday night.
Keryn told the full story yesterday on her blog.
I think it's a wonder my Mum and I survived at all, and marvel at the procedures these days that would make the delay unnecessary.
While we were all recovering from that traumatic experience another woman in the ward gave birth to a baby who unfortunately lived for only a few minutes. The woman was put in a room nearby and her sobbing eventually got to Mum, still shocked from her own experience.
"It’s not fair” she told the nurse, I have two babies and she has none. Give her one of my mine.” Today no-one could conceive of such an action in case the mother became deluded and fixated on the baby, but they were much simpler days. So dear kind Sister Lewis, who had worked so hard to save my life, gave me to the woman to hold, trying to ease her pain. She cuddled me for hours afterwards, and I like to think it was some sort of comfort.
Years later, when I was a mother myself, I suddenly thought What if that woman had been holding me and thinking “Why did YOU live and my baby died?” When I voiced this to Mum she scoffed at such a notion. “If she’d been thinking that then why did she call her first daughter Meredith?” So I had been a great comfort after all.
Mum also used to like telling us that when we came home from hospital (we were both around 5 pounds) Dad took one of us into the nursery to change a nappy. After a while there was a cry of "Help!! I’ve lost the baby!" The nappies were so big and cumbersome for us that they were all cut in half, and he fared much better after that.
I've always loved that story because those were the days when a father usually didn't bother to involve himself with things like changing nappies, in fact it would have been greeted with absolute horror by all of my uncles. But Dad was not going to miss out on the day to day chores of his two new daughters, and participated in the feedings and burpings and nappies with great enthusiasm.
A couple of years ago I was at the checkout behind an elderly lady who I recognised as Sister Lewis, now in her nineties. She was trying to use a card, but had confused her pin number, and got more and more flustered as the girl lost patience with her. “Sorry love” the girl finally snapped, “You only get three tries” and motioned her through. I was incensed that this woman, who had brought hundreds, if not thousands of babies into the world, full of commonsense and knowledge and kindness, was being dismissed as a doddery old fool.
I pointed to the few groceries she’d been trying to buy and said to the girl ”I’ll pay for those!” She grimaced at me as if I were mad and said “You don’t have to do that”.
"I know I don't" I retorted, "But I wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for that woman!" I was hard pressed to get Sister Lewis to accept the gesture, but as I said, it was the least I could do for her.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
It's Keryn's birthday today. For one day she's technically a year older than I am, until I catch up on Sunday. She's told the story of our birth on her blog, and I'll continue it tomorrow.
It was good having separate birthdays because we always got the same presents, and when Keryn opened hers, I knew exactly what I was getting. So that I'd have a surprise Mum gave us another gift on my birthday- excellent stuff!
This is a customer quilt I'm doing, a signature quilt and it's full of nice messages. The recipient will love it, but I'll have to get a move on and have it done by Monday or Tuesday.
It doesn't look possible to feed that big quilt (it's 87" square) through that throat space, but I love my Janome 6500. I've done a quilt that was 108" square on it, and though it wasn't easy it turned out very nicely. Of course I'd love a long arm, but in the meantime I'm quite happy with this set up.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I'm still having fun with my little square in square units. I must admit I have several quilts in the planning stages that will use truckloads of these, so there's method in my madness.
I forgot to point out that when I trim the 'ears' off the triangles the length is not exactly that of the square. I just make sure there is the same amount of the square material showing on either end, and that means it's centred. I did try to trim them the exact size, but having them smaller actually seems to work better for me.
Sheila made a comment about a special tool to trim the triangles, but no matter what the size I just muck around with the little square ruler until I find the perfect mark to use.
The units with light backgrounds are finding their way into these blocks. I have enough for 16 already, but I think I want 20. So I might just make some extra now, rather than waiting for the scraps to mount up again. I'm all enthused about this design, which is taken from a picture of an antique quilt I saved about 4 years ago. Time to get me a finished top.
But.... there are still 128 units with dark backgrounds, so I have to thnk about the design I wanted to put those into. I can't believe there were so many in the drawer, but it's certainly a painless way to acquire them, just sewing on a few scraps every now and then.
My son Matthew is 18 and has been helping me a lot in the garden. He and Mum were great mates, and when he was tiny he could be found next to her, companionably chatting and pulling up weeds. (he's the only male around here I'd trust to actually recognise a weed from a petunia!) Yesterday he wandered around with the camera and took lots of shots of the flowers, he must feel proud to have had a hand in creating the garden. I think a love of growing things is a valuable interest, there's always something to look out for and watch and tend, and I hope he keeps it. Neither of my other sons has any affinity with plants, but Mum taught Matt well.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
When I cut my scraps into pieces one of the things
I do are the shapes for 3 1/2" square in square units.
The centre squares are 2 5/8"and the corner triangles are 2 3/8". I cut these in squares too and then cut in half diagonally. I always have the back of the fabric facing up, because you can usually see the markings on the ruler better.
Then I trim the corners using the 2" mark on my ruler.
These shapes are cut from the small scraps I can't get strips from and I keep them all in a small plastic drawer.
Recently I noticed that the drawer wasn't shutting very well and the pieces had begun to invade the drawer above- time to do some sewing.
So when I worked at the local quilt shop this week I took the little drawer and it's neighbour and in the quiet times I made these - 52 square in sqare units.You'd think this would make a difference in the fullness or otherwise of the drawer, but look! It still looks full. Not bursting at the seams as it was before, but heck, I thought I would have had some space for the next lot of cut pieces. Keryn says they all just breathe out and go "Phew! Now we've got some room!"
So I'll have to sew some more before I can see the bottom of the container, but first I need to cut more centre squares, which will ADD to the fullness of said drawer before I can start emptying it....again.
And in another drawer, far far away.......
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
When Keryn was working out her colour sampler class I made a set of blocks too. Initially we tried to make it all totally random, with numbers for each shape in the block and a sort of lucky dip process of finding out which fabric to use where. Rather complicated, and it also resulted in some wishy washy blocks, as you can see.
Now it's easier to play with the fabric pieces and put them wherever you like, which is much more fun. I must make another set, with a slightly more complicated block like Keryn's, because you get a more varied effect. But I still quite like these.
Monday, October 09, 2006
More rose pictures were requested, so here they are. (Keryn has been begging, not to say whingeing about the lack of them). I live in the mid north of South Australia, and the climate is classed as semi-arid. It seems to be perfect for roses, as long as you keep the water up to them, and fungal diseases are rarely a problem. Unlike Keryn 's garden in the tropics.
Yes these are the roses Keryn and I pruned back to stumps in June or July, and now I can barely squeeze between them and some are almost over my head. Some of the David Austen's are heartbreakingly beautiful, I keep coming back to gaze at the clusters of heavy blooms and sometimes I have to tell them out loud how gorgeous they are. (Yes, I talk to my plants!)
The dark rose is a Burgandy Iceburg, the yellow one is Charles Austin(I think), the yellow and peach one is Reknown's Samaritan and I don't know the name of the little pink-tinged cream one as it was in the garden when we came.
What a pity Mum didn't get to enjoy the first spring here with all these glorious flowers, but the roses and gerberas and ferns we brought from her garden are flourishing and remind me of her constantly. Which is a fitting tribute to be sure.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Spring has come here and the roses have been beautiful. I've been working in the garden a lot and so no sewing or blogging has been achieved either. I want to get everything well mulched before it gets any hotter, and that means I end up pretty tired and dirty and without much urge to sew or knit.
I know this won't last and once the garden chores are done I'll get back into my other persuits and have something to blog about.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
No one can accuse these socks of being boring to knit! This was from ebay too, and I was a bit dubious because the skein looked a real hodgepodge of colours, but it's really good fun to knit. Love that red stripe.
I decided I had to get a new leader ender project because I've amassed 44 of these blocks and I didn't want it to be a particularly big quilt. ( the blocks are 6" finished) So I'm interviewing candidates for the next L-E position and trying to chose a setting material for these blocks. As they are made from a selection of dregs from my 2" drawer ( no strips, just the pieces less than 8" long) I kinda want to use some material for the setting that I'll be glad to see the back of.Nothing too precious because the blocks are sooo scrappy and jumbled. I'm sure I've got a piece of 80's calico that will fit the bill- somewhere- all I have to do is look for it. And as we got rain for the first time in months last night, and the day has dawned cool and grey, I think it would be a perfect time to pull out boxes and containers and look through all my stash.
Keryn and I used to love rainy winter days when we were young. Mum would let us go through her material drawers and ransack her wool stash and we'd get all her old knitting magazines from the 40's to look through. We had a slow combustion fire in the kitchen and we'd settle down in front of that, sipping tea and looking at our pile of books while we decided what we were going to cast on for next. Even this morning, as soon as I saw the wet ground and the deep grey-blue clouds outside I thought "Oh, it would be a good day to go through my wool!"
I've been collecting these fabrics for a few months, and something's stewing in my mind. Don't quite know what yet...... There are some rusty bricky reds that go with this pile and a few more of those strange blues. I'm leaving them out so they can speak to me, but I think this will be my next project, if I can stop the leader-enders from taking over.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
My completed blocks are growing in number, in fact I think I'm going to have enough for more than one quilt if I make all the pieces I've cut out. Never mind,it's a nice block to make, but I should have made it 9" instead of 12". This quilt is going to be BIG if I do what I originally intended.
I may use a lightning streak setting like this instead of a plain alternate block like the antique quilt I'm copying. There's still plenty of room for some vines or feathers to wind around, and it will use up a few more blocks. Bad thing is I'll have to make half blocks to fill out the edge, but I'm sure I'll manage.
Keryn's photo on her blog of all the little half square triangles laid out so neatly made me smile. This is a batch of triangle units, finger pressed open and waiting next to the iron to be pressed properly. They look like a tray of little sandwiches ready to go to a party! I quite often leave a project at a stage like this so that when I can work at my sewing again I've got a nice easy job to do first up.
Here are the latest pair of socks, ready to be cast off. These were really quite boring to knit because the stripe was so predictable. It took some discipline to do the second one, but finally I can cast on something more exciting. I always do a toe-up sock with a short-row heel when I'm using self patterning wool, but I love the traditional sock that starts at the cuff and has a french flap heel. I could knit them in my sleep I've made so many over the years. But the self striping wool looks much better in a short row heel and it's easier to judge the amount of wool you have for each sock.
It's suddenly turned quite hot here, and I'm hoping my knitting days aren't numbered. I shall have to knit regularly throughout the summer, even if it's only a few rows at a time, just to keeep my hands in training. This winter when I started to knit after a break of several years I found my hands ached quite badly until they got used to it. I'll have to do ten minutes knitting training in the cool of the morning this summer!
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Lookee what I got at the local antique shop! A pair of 40's shoes in perfect condition. The flash makes them look a bit greyed out but they're jet black suede and sooo comfortable I will definitely wear them.
I've always loved shoes from that era, and indeed others pairs have come to my attention before. But Keryn and I have little feet and nothing ever fitted, so I couldn't justify buying them just to look at. These will be worn to special occasions, but definitely not for walking very much. I don't want to be the one that ruins them after they've been looked after for 50 odd years.
Excuse the picture of my fat leg, it's just the angle of the camera, I swear!
And some irresponsible person put sock wool on ebay and look what they made me do! How dare they tempt me like that! There's enough here for another 7 pairs of socks at least! And because Keryn and I have the aforementioned little hooves I don't use up the whole 100g ball. Already I'm getting a collection of oddments that I might combine to make truly lairy socks. I've noticed on some knitting blogs that people are making blankets out of leftover sock wool, but my patchwork is for making lap quilts and throws and crib quilts and such. I refuse to knit them as well. It's getting hot early this year, but I will endeavour to knit as many pairs as I can before it truly swelters and my sock drawer will be stuffed ready for next winter.