Monday, July 27, 2009

Keryn and I had a quilting marathon, which Keryn wrote about here. I spent most of Monday at our patchwork group, and Wednesday and Thursday we'll be in Adelaide so I needed to get the work done and not feel guilty. I have a big candlewick top to tackle next, and if I can get it loaded on the machine and started today I'll feel even better.

I love doing pantographs and enjoy the custom work, but every now and then I get a top that I just go overboard on and this was one. I loved the colours, the buttonhole applique was beautifully done and I really wanted the quilting to enhance the workmanship.

I was thinking feathers somehow in the border, and Keryn said "But there isn't enough room!" No there wasn't a lot of space, but I could see the end result in my mind and it turned out as I thought it would. (That's always a relief!)

There's a lot of quilting in this and some of it you can't even see because it doesn't show up on the black, but I was really pleased with the overall effect. I enjoyed working on it from start to finish, and can hardly wait until this customer brings the next top.

Or perhaps not, I just remembered she's doing the Michele Hill design pictured in this post .....!
Aghh!!! The pressure will be on then!!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

There's been a thing going around about first quilts and last quilts, and it's always interesting to compare the two. My first completed quilt was a red and black and white Double Irish Chain that Keryn bullied me into helping her with in 1978. She'd been quilting for quite some time, and I was fairly lukewarm about it, my interests being lace knitting, art and poetry. This patchwork thing was OK , and I'd started a few smaller projects but a whole quilt seemed too much.

Keryn took no notice of this attitude, and like a brisk English nanny she handed me a stack of cut pieces, some advice on how to put them together and firmly expected me to get sewing. The only solid cotton fabric we could get was lawn - far too flimsy or headcloth, a thick coarse weave that was very um..., sturdy, shall we say.

I'm quite amazed at how I put that first block of squares together; I went wandering around with my needle attaching bits here and there and filling in the gaps later. It worked, but for some reason the notion of seperating it into rows didn't occur to me until later, probably another tip from Keryn.
I was quite impressed when the top was finally in one piece; I thought my job was done. Not so, we had to quilt it now Keryn announced, and she organised lengths of wood, clamps, a black and white houndstooth check for the backing and some un-named batting for the centre. I helped by tacking and rolling things when I was told to, but I still had no real understanding of the process or what we were going to do. Stitch through all three layers I supposed, and waited for Keryn to show me.

Then began a very happy little space of time that I always look back on fondly. I was newly married and apart from a few farm duties had no real commitments. Keryn lived about five miles away in a neighbouring town and every afternoon I jumped on my little motorbike and whipped around to her place. We set the frame up in her lounge room balanced on four chairs, sat on little stools and watched telly for hours while we quilted away. We became great fans of Coronation Street because it was on for about an hour and a half each afternoon and we copied the accents and the characters to amuse ourselves.
We did outline quilting and needletracked a grid into the plain blocks so we didn't have to mark anything, which I thought was pretty neat.

It was quite exciting the day we finally finished and unrolled the whole thing from the frame. During the quilting I was still merely just interested in the process, happy to be able to say that I'd 'done' quilting and patchwork but not sure I'd keep at it. But we went outside, hung the quilt on the line and sat sipping a cup of coffee, admiring it as it lazily flapped back and forth in the breeze; and something strange happened. I fell in love with patchwork in that very minute, not during all the stitching and quilting that I'd done, but there sitting in the garden looking at the finished result and thinking "I can't believe we did that!" A finished quilt has some sort of integrity, some final significance that is quite intoxicating, and all I wanted to do was start another one. Which I did immediately, and I've never stopped, nor have I wanted to.

The poor old quilt, over thirty years old, has definitely seen better days, is grubby and stained and one of Keryn's children left an open pen on it so it's permanently marked. I still love it, and I'm proud of what we did back then, when there were no magazines or information available except for a few scattered references in craft books.

Mary asked recently if we could see ourselves losing interst in patchwork, and I'm pretty certain I never will. It's been thirty-one years so far, and I am really grateful for the fact that Keryn and I started when we were so young. We very often hear women lament that they wish they'd started quilting sooner, but we don't have that regret. I love the fact that we have had this interest to tie us together through the years, and that our enthusiasm is still there, and that now we're helping others get their quilts finished.

I'm sure we never could have foreseen where our love of stitching would take us, when we were sitting in that garden thirty-one years ago but it's been a good journey, and it's not over yet.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Keryn and I have had a really busy fortnight, full of classes and travel and things that had to be done.We've only got one appointment this week, and some customers coming to pick up completed quilts.I'm looking forward to a bit of quiet time, and perhaps getting some of my own sewing done. Although I can't quite remember what I was working on before we got so rushed.

I've been quilting for customers in between classes and travel and this little top was one of them.

The range of fabrics was very vintage looking, and I loved all the spots in the top.

Chenille was used as the backing, and it turned out very cuddly and warm. It's rather heavy, so I don't think it would be suitable for a bedsize quilt, but as a lap or cot quilt it's very cute.

I did large freehand hearts all over it, to keep it soft and drapeable- too much quilting would have made it stiff and inflexible.

Matthew looked after Dolly while we were away, and snapped this moment of Mother/Daughter love. They look like they're about to kill each other, but no, they're just playing. Bonnie play-fights all the time but Macca never reacts like this, he's always perfectly patient and gentle with Dolly, which is lovely to see. It would be a madhouse if he was as silly as Bonnie is.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

Firstly, the potato recipe.

Fran was a darling and found it on the net, saved me all that typing, but the photo is the one from the book. The actual page is really stained and spattered, which only shows how much we've used it over the years.

We used to watch Kurma on SBS when we lived on the farm, and we were often inspired to try the recipes, eventually owning two vegetarian recipe books of his. But finding the right ingredients was quite a problem; where to get asafoetida powder or curry leaves in Crystal Brook?

Rob used to have to visit the diabetes clinic at the Adelaide Childrens Hospital every three months, and on one of these trips we discovered a whole food shop in Central market that seemed to have everything. Kalonji seeds, chana dal, curry leaves, urad dal, besan flour, all the ingredients we'd wondered about and couldn't get.

I'm definately not vegetarian, but wouldn't mind if I had to be; I don't think I'd miss meat that much. Nor am I whatever religion Kurma is, not interested in that side of things at all. I just like really tasty recipes, and I have very fond memories of Sundays in the farm kitchen with the boys, chopping and stirring and cooking and having fun. Rob was my main partner in crime, and the others ate whatever was served without complaint. Usually. Although John did once remark that when Rob chopped an onion the pieces could choke a horse. He has much more finesse now I think.

I can now show you a secret project because the intended recipient has it in her hot little hands.

Last year when Rob went away Keryn and I made a flannel quilt for him as a going away gift. It came to my attention that Elisa would like one of her own, (I heard there was a bit of competition over who got the blankie when they were watching tv) and so I started sewing this as soon as I could.

There were those at Patchwork who thought it must be for an intended grandchild, because of the ducks, but no. Elisa is mad on ducks, she even had a "Duck's Night" instead of a Hen's Party. So when I saw this fabric I knew I had to use it somehow. It was very cute to work with, and Keryn specially designed a duck panto to quilt it with, so it's ducks all the way! I don't know if I'll ever get a call to use it on a customer quilt, but the pattern is there if needed.

Ducks anyone?


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