Sunday, August 31, 2008

I finally finished the quilting on this old top and now I just have to bind it. This was all done using computerised designs so Keryn has to take all the credit for creating the patterns on this one.
I'm getting the hang of using the new system Creative Studio, after putting all these blocks in place. It's like anything, there's skill involved and you can still place designs badly or make mistakes. Having the computer stitching option doesn't guarantee perfect results - a lot still depends on the operator.

I've been busy freehanding all the stitchery tops we're getting, that seems to be my area of preference and what I love doing. Each to their own!
This is on the machine at the moment and the colours are so pretty and fresh. I love working on these tops, so different to those I make for myself.


Friday, August 29, 2008

I had a surprise visit on the weekend from Rob and Elisa, it was lovely to see them again. He made a quick trip home just for a couple of days, and seems to be liking his new job.

And look who came to visit too- Curtis!!

Don't they look nice and calm and happy.......

But that didn't last long....

Let's RUN!!
And JUMP!!

and frolic.......

till we're absolutely stuffed. Yeah!

I finally finished handsewing the binding on this stitchery quilt, and I'm pleased with how it turned out. It was a block of the month by Anni Downes and the customer did the embroidery beautifully. Keryn and I constructed the top and it was such fun to use these colours. We haven't got these fresh pretty fabrics in our stashes, which are mostly full of reproductions.

I hope the customer likes it too!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bonnie recently wote a post about using new fabric versus scraps, and I really do identify with what she said. At no time in my life have I owned so much beautiful fabric, and had the resources to buy more when I felt like it. I should be sewing up these new fabrics in a frenzy, and yet over and over again I'm drawn back to the scraps, the leftovers, the old projects and the bits that have been given to me. I've been thinking about it quite a bit, because it doesn't make sense on the surface.

When I was really struggling, bringing up three boys on my own and counting every penny, I would have loved to be in this position now. To have bolts of new fabric sitting on the shelves, plenty for borders, for setting blocks, for backings; never having to worry about running out before the project was finished.I would have regarded this as heaven, and if I'd been told that I'd go back to my scraps in preference to this bounty I would have been sceptical.

Yet that's what I've been doing. I guess I feel attatched to this earlier stash in a way that I don't with the new fabrics, even though they are so beautiful. Back then I knew every fabric in my possession, where every piece had come from, and who had given me the smallest scraps. I handled them constantly and each piece had so many possibilities it was tantalising. I dreamed about them and drew quilt plans for them and thought about them in a way that I haven't with the new stuff.
I don't know if it is a question of having too much, or that I just don't have the same emotional investment. But I like the scraps that people are still giving me because they tie me to that 'past', when I needed to treasure and appreciate every tiny thing. The new fabric is lovely and tempting and delicious, but so often it gets stuffed in the drawers and doesn't really imprint itself on me before the next lot comes along. I probably 'play' with my scraps more than fondling the new fabric, which is strange.
I can't say I'm just busier now I've got my own business because I was run off my feet and stressed beyond belief back then. Life's a doddle now compared to what I used to fit in every day. Perhaps I needed my quilting more in those times as a way of being grounded and clinging to something that was just for me, a lifeline to sanity in some instances.
What ever the reasons, I can't abandon my scraps and move on solely to "The Good Stuff". I need my boxes of odd-bod strips and strange bits and pieces, and I still happily accept all the remnants that are offered to me. Keryn was looking through a new quilt book the other day and burst out laughing at this illustration. She says it reminds her of me.....
Well Bonnie, we can be 'rag muffins' together!


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sara asked about my heel-less socks. I got the pattern from this wonderful book, full of lots of ideas. This edition is 1955 and I picked it up in a second hand bookshop for about $10. Bargain.

I've got no idea what wool I'm supposed to be using, but I had a couple of skeins of 5-ply blend that I thought I'd experiment with. I'm using size 12 needles(what's that in American sizes?) and I think I could have used 11's or even 10's to make a softer fabric. This is pretty firm, and because there's only 64 stitches and I made them really long they have to stretch a lot at the top.

The pattern is pretty simple,

a k2 p2 rib, for three rows,

every fourth row slip the first knit stitch of each rib, knit the second then pass the slipped stitch over and knit that too.

The next row is back to the k2 p2 rib, but moved one stitch to the right so it makes a sloping pattern. Quite easy, but my hands got sick of it in the end and closer to the toe I decided to just try the rib without the twisted stitches. I think I like this just as much and it's so much easier to do. The spiral pattern helps with the fit of the sock, and even though I want to make more of these simple ones for round the house they'd never replace my 'proper' sock knitting.Now, long time readers might remember my Crosses and Losses blocks from this post. And that links to an even earlier post in 2006.

I was having trouble deciding on a setting and had a vivid dream about what to do. It all worked perfectly until I ran out of a certain fabric and didn't have enough of the border I wanted and suddenly the top and I weren't speaking to each other and the lines of communication have been down for a while. Every now and then I'd make a half-hearted attempt to make amends, offering this fabric or that for it's approval, waking up in the morning thinking "What about the piece of new fabric Keryn bought?I wonder if that's the 'right' one....", but nothing was good enough for these cranky blues. I really felt that all the effort was on my part, and they weren't even meeting me half way. Sometimes I hadn't even got the fabric unfolded before they were saying "No! We don't like that one either!"

So I gave up and the top, minus the borders has sat in the cupboard ever since. If I felt a little twinge of regret over not finishing it I instantly got a defensive rush of justification- I'd tried my darndest, auditioned every blue fabric I possessed, raided Keryn's stash, even bought three new lengths for this wilful thing, and I'd been rejected at every turn. Let it sit and think about how it was going nowhere. Hmphh!

Then Keryn finished this top, and used her very special toile that had been out of bounds on previous stash raids. I was looking at the leftover strips that she hadn't needed and the disgraced Crosses and Losses top suddenly seemed like it might get a reprieve.

I laid the strips out next to it with a grim attitude, if this didn't work I was going to wash my hands of it altogether. There was a moments silence, and then I heard the blocks say grudgingly...."Well, it's not what we had in mind, but it will do...."

Just as well!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Well, I don't know how I did that, but two readers told me that when they clicked on the photo of the customer quilt in the last post, another quilt came up. I had originally loaded this picture to the post and then deleted it because I thought it looked too boring to blog about. Nothing for it but to tell you about it now I suppose.

Keryn is absolutely sick of me playing with my revolting old fabrics and the boring bits from my quilting past. We have so much beautiful fabric and so many inspiring ideas, and I still go back out of a sense of duty and try to finish these abandoned projects. And I can't say I loved them once because the only reason I ever started them was to use fabric I no longer liked.

I made these blocks about three years ago, and I wanted them to look like an old farm quilt I saw on ebay. I wanted to use up funny lights and bits of blues and greens that were hanging around. I like blocks that are just two colours, a light and a dark- simple to sew and then just whack them all together.

I came up with the brainwave that I'll use this as the backing for the double reel top that I just finished, again using up fabric I wanted to get rid of. But I needed two more blocks to make it longer, so I went back to the Drawer of Abandonment.

This time it turned out to be the Drawer of Requirement, because I found a practice block (really yecchy fabric) and another that had the dark and light reversed. I should have made them all like this, they're much more interesting. So the top(backing) was finally long enough but I had to add borders all around so that it can be loaded on Millhouse and centre the top properly on it. Most of the border fabric top and bottom will be cut away, which is why it looks so incongruous- I just used stuff that could be discarded.

Keryn is away in Melbourne teaching, but I can feel her shaking her head and muttering."Use the Good Stuff, for pity's sake!!" Soon, master, soon!


Monday, August 11, 2008

Today was patchwork and I took my Stack and Whack to work on. One of the group had her head screwed on right because she brought her little TV and so I got to sew and watch the Equestrian at the same time. Excellent!

I still didn't get much done because I helped a friend who'd missed the class last time- we got her blocks cut and three hexagons sewed before she had to leave.I do love seeing the different fabric choices; three people had their blocks sewn into rows and not once did I think to get my camera out. What a twit! I must take photos when they're all finished.I ditched the wishy washy cream I was going to set these with and chose a vibrant dark red instead. Much more interesting, but the light was so bad I couldn't see what I was doing and gave up in favour of helping the others and watching telly. After all, the Olympics only comes every 4 years, doesn't it?
Got a new customer quilt too, this is someone's first attempt at patchwork! Pretty good stuff, and I have some new purple variegated thread that will look wonderful on this. This should liven up the bedroom of the little girl it's intended for.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Earlier this week I decided to go through my project boxes for something to handsew during the Olympics. I have my little hexagons, but I've been working on them a while, and wanted some variety. Wouldn't do to get bored during the Olympics! I found these Feathered 16 Patches that I started years ago and despite thinking that I only had about 8 done, the sewing elves had been busy and there were 23 blocks finished.(!!?How? I can't remember doing that many!) I sorted them out, cut the remaining 5 blocks I needed, even the triangles for the setting and generally got myself organised.
Except then I kept sewing them every night and now they're all done and ready to be set together, so I guess it's back to the rosettes and my spiral heel-less sock. I figured this would be the ultimate in mindless knitting, just a tube and then a toe. No need to miss any of the action following a pattern.

And this is a customer quilt, from a kit by Pam Holland. The lady wanted it stippled, and by gum she got it! Death by Stippling....?
The backing had been cut the same size as the top and couldn't be loaded on Millhouse, so I went back to my Janome 6500 to do this. My wrists are still aching, but it was only a small project, thank goodness.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Here are some more photos from my trip, this place rejoices in the name of Nobby's Head, and is really stunning. But those two little black specks are people surfing- far too cold and wet for me. I love to look at the sea, but I don't like being on it or in it.Can you see the rainbow trailing from the wave? And another silly black speck of a someone.
Lovely scenery.

I'm having trouble getting back into the swing of things, I feel like I'm scrambling to catch up after my interlude away. Customer quilts are building up to a level I'm not comfortable with and we're doing our best to get them down to a workable number. I think I'd be happy with any single digit number at the moment, perhaps that should be the goal next week.

I'm not happy in my sewing room either, I've lost my way on the projects I was doing, and while I continue putting the pieces together, I think I need to have a big think about them soon. We need Direction, people!

Keryn taught a Stack and Whack class last week at the patchwork group, so I have a new project too. I wish I'd thought to take photos of everyone's work, there were so many different fabrics and they all turned out great. We didn't want to go home and ended up staying an hour and a half past the normal break up time because no-one wanted to stop. That's the sign of a good class!
I bought this fabric ten years ago when Keryn and I were in America at the Machine Quilters Showcase. I think it was a Paula Nadelstern design that was made especially for cutting up into kaleidoscope quilts, and it's sat in my stash ever since. I knew I would use it one day, and suffice it to say I want more but there's no hope of getting this again!I'll have enough for a small quilt, and I have some other gorgeous fabric I want to make a large Stack and Whack from, so it's really only a test piece. I just love the possibilities of twisting and turning these bits, sometimes it's hard to decide which you like best.
The following pictures are the same triangles, just turned in different directions.

I chose the latter one but I like the others too. See why I want more of this fabric?


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