Monday, July 30, 2007

I've played around with these blocks and came up with a really intriguing setting, then thought "Why bother?" As I said these blocks were made from ordinary fabric-still good quality patchwork fabric but just not special. I used to buy scrapbags from a Sydney store, and these pieces were passed over time and again as I used the nice bits. So these units seemed the answer because the scraps were just the right size and I could get rid of them at last.

If I make two more blocks I can add another row, and as I have an inexplicable aversion to square quilts, I'll probably do that today. I didn't really like the blue setting, but that used a piece of wishy-washy 80's fabric, so I could feel virtuous about that too, it's all win-win, isn't it? These blocks turned out to have far more potential design-wise than I thought; I have two or three ideas I'll be persuing with reproductions instead of blah fabric.

On the knitting front I'm making the tea cosy illustrated in this 1956 magazine, using some vintage 3 ply wool from Mum's stash (I love the little cable bow on top).I'm also doing a pink cotton/wool blend sock in rib and cables and the Jitterbug sock in the Sahara colourway. I knit them all at different times and places, so they're each growing slowly, but I never get bored!

And look what happens if you're not careful! Give them an inch and they'll take a mile! I was a bit aghast (that's my yellow stash!) and Bonnie was quickly removed, but it was cute too......
C'mon, Outa there!


Thursday, July 26, 2007

You probably all know how to make these units, but just in case there's someone out there who doesn't, I'll give you a blow by blow description.You need one 4 1/2" by 5 1/2" rectangle, two 2 1/2" squares, and two 2 1/2" by 3 1/2" rectangles. When I'm cutting my scraps I roughly cut a rectangle at least 7 1/2" by 6" and I know I'll be able to make two units from this. I can cut the pieces accurately when I'm ready to sew.Sew the squares to the light rectangles and press the seam allowance towards the light side. This makes it so much easier to press later that I don't care about the 'rule' of pressing towards the darker fabric. Join the two strips together as shown

Before you press this piece however, snip down to the seam allowance in between the two stitching lines. It doesn't matter if you cut the stitches, this part will be trimmed off later anyway. Then you can press these seams away from the dark squares too and it all lays nice and flat.The next step is to draw two sewing lines across the unit. There are three points to check when you line the ruler up: make sure the line goes through the very corner of the block, the place where the seams cross in the square and that the 45 degree line on the ruler runs along the edge of the block. Sometimes you may have to jiggle it a little, but these three checkpoints will make sure you're drawing in the right place.

Lay the pieced unit on top of the large rectangle and pin well.

Stitch along the drawn line; it feeds through more easily if you don't start at the corner (some machines chew the points here) and when you've sewn one, pull the piece out from under the foot, turn it around and sew back down the other line.
I press the piece to set the seams and get it flat before lining the 1/4" mark of the ruler on the seam line and cutting the block into two. Because there is extra allowance built into the dimensions I then trim the other piece, but you could just make one cut down the middle and have wider seam allowances.

Et voila, two units to use in whatever way you see fit, no triangles and bias seams to sew. I love it.

Next post- What I Did With My Units. (what are these things called anyway?)


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The feathered cross has borders, nothing fancy but they're adequate. I didn't feel like expending too much mental energy agonising about this, so I'm content with "done".

I couldn't decide which order to sew the strips in, so I opted for two different sides. I'm quite pleased with the effect of the cheddar and the blue alternating around the edge,and I may use this on other borders too. I just have to applique the mitres, as Keryn explains in this post, and it's ready to be quilted.
I sewed a few of these units at my patchwork group's meeting yesterday, and now I have to decide what I'll do with them. There are so many possibilities; I'll have a play with some graph paper and I may cut some more out- this used a pile of scraps that weren't precious.

I love making units and then working out the blocks afterwards- half the work is done by the time you get serious.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Deathly Hallows. Started reading 4pm. Finished 2am. Love it. Good on J.K.!


Friday, July 20, 2007

I've been knitting up some of the gorgeous wool that I bought at Sydney show. This is Jitterbug wool, in the Raphael colourway and it's lovely to knit. The colours are keeping me entertained and it feels beautiful too. I knitted one sock from the outside of the ball and one from the centre, so they don't match, but I want to use every last skerrick of this. I'll knit a few rows on each until I run out, which will probably be later on tonight. I can't stop knitting these, but when they're done I'm going to start on "Firecracker." Mmmmmmm!

Then there's the 2 ply Merino for shawls and some wool/cooton blend for plain socks.....Another thing I bought at the show was this Ott light and I love it. It's not at all glarey and doesn't make my eyes hurt like my old lamp did. It makes applique a whole lot easier.

Bonnie in pensive mood.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Thanks for the suggestions about this little quilt, but I won't be doing any unpicking or fiddling with it. Know ye this, peoples, when I decide on a setting, I have already exhausted every possibility that I can think of. Keryn saw my method in action when she was down here, and I have it down to a fine art.

I cover the sewing table with the intended setting fabric, and lay the blocks out in every way I can come up with, straight; on point; with alternate blocks; streak of lightning; thin to wide sashing. Some may have potential, and I'll take photos to jog my memory, others I dismiss straight away.

While I have the fabric laid out, I grab two or three other sets of blocks that I'm stewing over, and they get laid out too, to see if the fabric suits them. I can do it very quickly, and sometimes I get results I didn't expect, and a fabric intended for one set of blocks ends up with another. Even if I particularly want a block set straight (like these feathered crosses), I'll still play this game to make sure I haven't overlooked some possibility.

And the sad thing is, these blocks didn't look good any other way. Because they're so small, an alternate square seemed to dwarf them, a wider sashing overwhelmed them, I ended up loosing the effect of all those tiny points. If they'd been 1 1/2" triangles I think they could have coped and held their own.

I'll do some borders and call it quits and let's face it, there's plenty more waiting to be set together so I don't need to agonise about how big this will end up.

Mac says ......

"SSSHHH! I just got her off to sleep!"


Sunday, July 15, 2007

I don't know what's up with Blogger, but I tried all yesterday to log in and it kept timing out.

I have set together the 20 Feathered Cross blocks, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I need more. This isn't long enough for a single bed, and only covers half of a double bed. So I either make 4 more and turn it into a single quilt, or *gulp* 15 more and make it a double.

Trouble is, I don't want to do either. I don't like long narrow quilts, which this would be if I made it fit the single bed, and honestly! another 15 blocks with 24 one inch triangle squares in each? I don't think so. That would mean like.....another 360! And there's already 480 in the blocks so far! I feel nauseous at the very thought.
Perhaps I could just put the final sashing round these and a few borders and make it a large wallhanging. I don't want to do no more blocks and that's that.
One of Matt's friends has been so taken with Mac that he succumbed and got his own Staffie puppy. Her name is Bonnie, and we puppysat her last night. They are so cute to watch together, Mac is wonderfully gentle and even though she's so rough he never gets cross with her. At one stage she was biting his eyelid and he just put a paw up in self defence, and then let her do it anyway.
When we got him there were three in his litter, and while we were choosing which puppy to take I noticed that the little female was being bashed up by a bigger male. He kept backing her into a corner and attacking her quite seriously. Mac would wander over, get in between them and divert the aggressive pup's attention, then lead him away. He didn't seem that interested in playing with the other puppy once he'd got it away from the female, but he just wouldn't let it hurt her.
He's proved to be just as sweet natured now that he's older, and I love his personality. This is a dog that ran into my knee in his rush to say hello to me and his head left a bruise, and yet he's ridiculously gentle with this little scrap.
Matt and the friend have planned her to be a child bride and want puppies, sigh....
Matt has been playing around with the black and white setting on his camera and weird angles....


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I'm on my own again, having driven Keryn to Adelaide yesterday, sniff. We took the long way and visited a few more patchwork shops, driving through the Barossa Valley, and wishing we could pick up a few bottles of wine along the way. But she already had too much to fit in her cases!

She flew back to Rockhampton this afternoon and I came home to my strangely empty sewing room- it's been quite busy in there for the last week. To occupy my mind I started sorting and tidying, and that has been very therapeutic- I'm always a bit let down when we're separated again. You'd think we'd be used to it after 26 years. Sigh.

Keryn first left home when she was 18 to go into the Air Force, and I remember wandering off to a bookshop after we'd said goodbye, again in Adelaide. I found some interesting book and after poring over it for a few minutes I instinctively turned around and said "How incredible, look at this!" ..... to a complete stranger! I was just so used to always being able to share things that I'd forgotten she wasn't there. I don't think I've ever felt so bereft.

But we do have our own lives now, and when we get together we have a marvellous time. And there's email and the blogs and talking on Yahoo Messenger, so we're in contact every day, unlike those early years when we relied on letters and incredibly expensive phone calls. Yep, Technology Gooood!!
The sewing room wasn't really big enough for the two of us, but we did get a bit accomplished. Keryn made 17 blocks of her new quilt, then professed herself dissatisfied with the colour scheme, so I don't know if they'll see the light of day. I made 15 of these Feathered Cross blocks, but I have to confess I pinched the 1" triangles from another project, so don't think I'm Super Piecer.

I was happy with my shopping in Sydney and Adelaide, and I've now bought setting fabrics for four sets of blocks that were stalled in the finishing process. I'll have to do a heap of ironing and cutting and sewing in the next few weeks, but that should keep me happy- no time to mope!


Sunday, July 08, 2007

I was sad to read on Bonnie's blog that she's having a hard time with some people in her life. I can't understand the need to put others down, or how some people think they have a right to say hurtful things, often to one's face. I'm sure I've caused hurt through sheer stupidity and lack of tact, but never deliberately.

When we were in Sydney a group of us started recounting comments and stories that had a negative cast, and while we all laughed and sympathised, somehow these are the things that stick in your mind.
Here is a selection of our stories ....The picture above is of a raffle quilt that I made for a friends fundraising campaign. I was told it was a useless idea and it would be a flop, but it made $3ooo. Many people admired it but I always remember one woman staring at it with a look of dislike and saying " Why am I buying a ticket, I don't know what I'd do with THAT if I won it". I felt like tearing up the ticket stub to make sure she didn't!

Years ago I made a quilt to sell at a fundraising day for my church. It sold within hours, and I was feeling very chuffed that I'd contributed $3oo with my efforts. A woman walked past, stared at the "Sold" ticket and said "Some people have more money than sense".

On being told Keryn had written a book on quilting a friend said 'But you'd have to have talent for that.'

A non- quilter saw a little block I did, with lots of complicated piecing and asked "Did you sew all those little bits together?" I admitted I had, and she stared aghast and said "Why?"

A friend said to Keryn about quilting teachers... "They're just jumped up housewives", knowing full well that Keryn was a teacher herself.

A friends mother-in-law said to her "You have such lovely rings, it's a pity your hands are so ugly."

At a Trivia night a friend's husband stared at us in astonishment and said "You girls are quite intelligent aren't you?"

Keryn's daughter has a small mole on her face and a close family member brayed "She'd be such a pretty girl if it wasn't for that thing on her face". While Seonaid was greeting her...

After some haircut that my mother didn't approve of she wailed "How can I make you see how hideous you look?"

I was quite an accomplished artist in my early teens and a neighbour saw one of my paintings and blurted, "Oh! I didn't think you had THAT much talent!"

I once went to a hairdresser after a year of neglect and the little guy looked as if it was killing him to have to deal with me. Afterwards I said brightly,"That looks better", and he sneered "It couldn't look Worse!"

Keryn and I were the first designers in Australia to print and publish our own pantographs. When I told this to a family member (with a bit of justifiable pride) she said "What about the world? Were you the first in the World?" Well no, we weren't.... Now, if someone tries to put us down, all Keryn and I have to say to each other is 'But were you the first in the World????' and we dissolve in helpless laughter.

Some of these can be attributed to thoughtlessness, but it's horrible when people seem to deliberately conspire to put you down. All I can say, Bonnie, is set the bad comments on the scale against all the lovely, kind, caring things that are said about you, and you'll see where the problem lies. It's not with you.

And keep doing that sewing thing.....


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hmmn, Meggie, I think I'll put a spin on this.....

8 things that are different about Keryn and me.

1.She is half an inch taller than me.

2.When people used to exclaim that they couldn't tell us apart, Mum always said "Oh Meredith has a much rounder face". Yep, that's me, old Moon Face.....

3.As children the only serious disagreement we had was whether Elizabeth the First should have executed Mary Queen of Scots. And it's still irreconcilable because we just had another huge argument about it.......

4.Keryn has a scientific leaning, and I love the Arts.

5.Mum always said there's a Good Twin and a Bad Twin . I need not elaborate. I'm the Good Twin.

6.I love Star Trek (except for the original series). Keryn can't suspend her disbelief and she doesn't know what she's missing out on....

7.I'm a technophobe, whereas Keryn loves to try new things. She's much braver about everything in fact.

8.Nup, can't think of eight.


Friday, July 06, 2007

We had a lovely day today, which Keryn has written about on her blog.We took lots of photos, but I'll content myself with just this one, of an old cart. It was for sale at an antiques place, and even though I love these soft colours, I've nowhere to put it.

We've been sewing some extra blocks, to go with an orphan I made years ago. I'll decide how big to make it when we've got a few more together.
I also dug out an applique block I've been avoiding and decided to finish it. I adore applique and I think I need to do more, after seeing some of the lovely work at the Sydney show. This is from an old quilt that was in Quilters Newsletter Magazine many years ago.

I was going to make nine blocks, but I don't think I can face another eight!This quilt was one of Kayes and Keryn and I both fell in love with it. I may use the applique block as a centre and do something like this.....

Here's a sketch I did years ago, when Matthew was four.(15 years ago to be exact!) I don't have many drawings of my children, and I regret it now.
And a watercolour of a tabby.......Meggie, I'm thinking of eight things.....


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The stand came down much quicker than it went up. Swarms of people rushed around packing everything into boxes and bags, and trolleys and pallets were loaded with the heavy stuff before being wheeled out to the loading areas. The last day is when you're the most tired, and that's when you have to spring into action and tear down what it took so long to arrange. We all had to wear safety vests and woe betide anyone wandering without one. There's so much going on that visibility is most important, or you might get run over by something.

This is the Goldsbrough Mort, the old wool stores that have been turned into rooms and apartments. It's really handy to the exhibition halls, and we had a nice view this time.

The big white shed-like buildings are the Convention Centre and we had to walk to the furthest one on the right so we got our exercise!

Every time I travel I take my sketchbook, but I usually get overwhelmed and don't use it. I only managed to make this one scribble of some old building I could see from our room, and I had to press myself against the window to see it. I don't really 'do' the skyscrapers, I'm more interested in the old stone buildings. Someday I'll get better organised, and more brave, and then I'll be able to sketch in public.
I had excess luggage at the airport, and this is the reason why. Other friends took home wool and fabric, and we had stashes of both AND kilos of books that took our fancy. I even posted some clothes home to make room in the suitcase, but you can't get round the fact that books are heavy creatures.Honestly, who could leave that Imperial China book , or the pyrography one for $4.95 each?Not these little biblophiles.


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