Friday, March 31, 2006

Guess what I'll be doing over the next few weeks?

This is the house that my mother and I are going to live in, gulp, Together! She's 84 and needs to be with someone so we're setting up home in this large Federation style house. It's just around the corner from where I live now, and I'll leave all my sewing there for the time being, so that I can go and escape the throes of shifting Mum's stuff.

Son Matt will continue to live where we are now, so I'll have two homes virtually- lots of room to spread out.

This is me opening the door for the first time- Yaay!!!!

There are some rooms that need painting, so it will be a fortnight or so before we really move. There's not a lot of sewing going on at the moment, just a bit of pottering with the leaders and enders and sorting of old projects. So I might have to resort to ancient quilts if I want to post photos.

The house is set on half an acre, so there's lots of lawns, garden beds and trees all around. Fortuneately I love gardening and I can hardly wait to get stuck into all the pruning and tidying and digging and planting.

Don't worry, there will be plenty of quilting going on soon, even if I've got all this other stuff to do as well. Just as well I get up at 5.30 in the morning!


Friday, March 24, 2006

Hmmm, what to do with all the off-cuts of the little squares from my bowtie quilt? Common sense would dictate that I throw the little blighters away, wouldn't it?

Am I known for my common sense? In most matters, but not when it comes to even a whisper of wasting fabric.

So the 396 pairs of tiny triangles are becoming.....

...tiny pinwheels. These will finish at 1 1/2", which means each triangle will be 3/4". I don't think that's being too obsessive, do you?

I suppose if there were only a few of them I could chuck them away, but 396 pairs? That's quite a pile.

I don't know what I'll do with them just yet, but they're being leader-enders at the moment, which suits me fine.

Because I've realised that I'm in a self-perpetuating top manufacturing cycle here.

These are 30 crosses and losses blocks, enough for another top, and they were effortless, because they were leader-enders. I can't produce another set of blocks for every project I finish, or I'll feel like I'm running on the spot.

So I'll have to choose patterns like Bonnies that use squillions of little pieces and take ages to accumulate enough bits to set into a top.

And does anyone else have leader-ender guilt? Sometimes I get so excited about the little pieces that I find myself sewing the leader-enders after the other project's done. I feel guilty because I'm only supposed to do them in between the main piecing, and if I use up all the cut bits for the leader-enders then where will I be?

I find myself sewing away surreptiously and telling myself to stop it at once.... Just another example of how I can get distracted. Bonnie must have heaps more discipline than me.



Friday, March 17, 2006

The borders are done, so another top joins the pile. I like how this one turned out, even though blue and yellow isn't a colour combination I have much of in my house. When this is quilted I may even put it up for sale in our local art and craft gallery. I'll be happy if I just have the photos to remember it by.

It's not a big top, and I think it would look nice hanging on a wall, so I'll have to make sure it's got a sleeve on it when the quilting's done. I've already made the binding, I like getting a bit ahead of myself like that.

As soon as it gets cooler here I want to really start quilting up a storm, or everyone will think I never finish anything. I have a pile of tops it's true, but I've also got lots of finished quilts on the beds ( there's 13 piled one on top of another on the spare bed!) and I've given quite a few away and sold some. Keryn's got a heap more though, it's almost embarressing!

I've got another set of blocks almost sewn too, I was using them as leader-enders. They're just blue and white Crosses and Losses, so they were simple to keep track of. I like lining all my patches up on an old plastic lid and putting it next to the machine, it all looks so organised. I've got 20 of these blocks cut out but I might do more, depending on how I decide to set them. My drawer of blues is overflowing and won't shut without a struggle, so I might hack a few more bits up.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

This is the little Singer I do all my piecing on. It's sort of in between a Featherweight size and a normal sewing machine. It does a marvellous straight stitch and purrs happily away for hours on end.

Yesterday I was forced to try and piece on my Janome 4000 and it drove me bats, chewing the end of triangles, and not sewing the proper seam allowance no matter how much I fiddled. I gave up in the end, no wonder I just keep going back to this uncomplicated little darling.

It cost me all of $25 in a secondhand shop, I've had it for about 7 years and have sewed on it nearly every day since then. I have to love something this reliable and sturdy. I do adore my Janome 6500 for my quilting, but for piecing this is my little sweetie.

Today was a non-sewing day, that always makes me cranky. Tomorrow I have to take my elderly mum shopping, but I should get some early morning stitching done and then some late afternoon time. People think I get a lot done, but I probably sew at least two hours during the day (I get up at 5.30 to sew) and then I handsew for three hours every night. It really does mount up, so no wonder I've got a pile of tops to be quilted and all my stacks of blocks waiting to be set.

Lucy wanted to know how much fabric the little triangles in my bowtie top require. You'd need at least 20" of the two colours - 10 strips 2" wide in each of the feature fabrics. (That's about 52 cm if we're talking metric.) You need 198 squares of each colour for the 99 blocks that I did: phew, it sounds a lot when you add it all up.


Monday, March 13, 2006

The blocks are in one piece and looking quite lively.

There are borders being pieced and the dreaded maths being done to make them fit. That's the worst of not planning ahead, you have to fudge measurements and do the calculations in the middle of the project. The star blocks are 6 and 3/4" finished, a really odd size, but I probably thought I'd set them straight so it wouldn't be a problem. Ha! I can be relied on to do things arse-end round, as we country persons put it.

I think I'm still on a book-bargain high, and I'm being quite a bad sport over my luck ( as in "Nyah nyah, lookee what I got for a DOLLAR!!) No-one likes a Gloater, as they said in Blackadder, but now that my friends here have displayed suitable envy and teeth-gnashing, I'll condescend to share my bounty. Only a lend of some, mind you; I'm still in the stage of hugging certain volumes during the day, so they won't be prised out of my possessive little paws.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Em..... the local library had a book sale on today, and I may have bought a few things. This is the front seat of my car afterwards.

How could I resist, all hardback books were $1 and paperbacks were 50 cents!

Lookee what I got!

Art books.

Craft books. The russian embroidery book is wonderful and the Country Quilts one I must have borrowed about 10 times over the years. And now I get to keep it for a buck!

I got heaps of decorating books that are just crammed full of gorgeous photos and wonderful colour schemes. I'm going to get so many ideas from all this.

This is a huge cookbook by Stephanie Alexander and it cost $65 a few years ago, and.....I got it for $1!

What a haul, and it all cost less than the price of one new hardback book! I have a huge collection of books now, bookcases in every room and yet this sight warms the cockles of me little heart. I think I'd rather have books than material right now, and I certainly don't feel guilty about this "personal library enhancement".

There may be something occurring in the star department too.....


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Borders are on and the top is in the huge pile waiting to be quilted now. Everyone seems to like this pattern, and I may try to explore the idea of emphasizing the circles, and using scraps in the corners.....when I've got some spare time.

I don't worry much about placement of fabric in scrap quilts, apart from trying not to have two adjacent pieces the same. I just noticed there are three fabrics in the third row together- two for the bowtie and a scrappy block of leftovers next to it. I had the block rotated, but when I was sewing it together I must have flipped it to get the seams to nestle. This will irritate me a little bit, but I hardly ever unpick things. I really don't care enough. Or I'm just lazy....

It's the first week of autumn here in Aust. and I thought it might cool down a bit, so I started a sock from an old skein of three ply wool I found in an op-shop. That was the signal for the temperature to climb again, and it just somehow seems wrong to knit in front of the airconditioner. Bit like Matt in his quilt.

The book is from 1953, so it's 5 years older than me. The basket was my great grandmother's sewing basket and in it there's a row counter from a knitting machine; Keryn found it and sent it to me as a little oddity but it's very cute to use. I love collecting old stuff but I like it even better when I can find uses for it.

I think the next project will be some of that gi-normous stack of 8-point stars, I've got something in mind for the blue ones.


Saturday, March 04, 2006

This is my latest scrap project. I was looking at Bonnie's star quilt made with Indian Hatchet blocks and wondered what would happen if I just sewed a triangle across one corner. Four of them rotated with the triangles to the centre make a sort of fancy Bowtie.

I used 3.5 " squares with a 2" square for the flippy corner; the block ends up 6" but would also work in 4.5" squares and a 2.5" corner, to finish at 8".

This must be one of the most mindless blocks to sew, it goes very fast and is perfect for chain piecing. I used lots of little odds and sods bits that were clogging up various containers, but even though I made it 9 x 11 (99 blocks) there doesn't seem to be any appreciable difference in my scraps, there never is. Just once I'd like to see an empty space after I'd finished a quilt, but the leftover material just seems to shuffle in to fill up any gaps.

I'll probably put a border on this and give it to my son Matt as his tv watching quilt. He's using an Ocean Waves quilt I made about 6 years ago, and it's definitely the worse for wear. ( As I write this he's asleep on the lounge underneath the air-conditioner with the quilt wrapped around him. I don't know how he can stand it, I'm too hot with a t-shirt on. Guess he must love the quilt!


Thursday, March 02, 2006

This is the knitted dress of our Mum's that Keryn referred to in her blog yesterday. I think it was made of 3 ply wool and it was knitted before or during the second world war. There are two lacey vine stitches and waist and yoke are a smocking stitch. Even the shoulder pads in this are knitted! Mum used to boast that Dad could join his hands around her waist, which measured 18". Unfortunately there are a few moth holes and age stains on it, but I'll never throw it out, too many memories.

The tumbling blocks quilt is one that Keryn made for Mum years ago and it always lives on her bed.

I can remember Mum asking us on one of our birthdays, ( I think about our seventh) what we wanted and we both asked for material of our own. We always had plenty of her dressmaking scraps, but we wanted new stuff for our doll's clothes. So she took us to a large store in town called The Co-Op ( short for Co-operative) and with great difficulty we chose some half yard pieces from all the tantalising rolls of fabric. I can remember a printed orange gingham with a sprig of flowers on it, and a white fabric with a purple rosebud. We bought material that we both liked so that we could swap bits at home, and we still do the same thing now. Keryn sends pieces of her treasures to me and I send mine to her.

Once when Keryn had come home for a visit we went to a quilt shop on the way to the airport when she had to fly home. We had a pair of scissors (this was long before 9/11) and we sat in the waiting area, spread our purchases out and proceeded to cut it all in half to swap. We got some funny looks, but it was better than waiting around feeling maudlin about being separated again. One day we'll live together, but heaven help us if we combine stashes, we'll need a whole 'nother house just for that!


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