Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yes Henrietta, I'm still here,thanks for the wake-up shout! I don't know what happened to the last week, one moment it was Christmas and now it's New Year. I have hazy memories of a food
induced torpor (mm, leftovers!!) and a massive book binge that saw me finish four books in four days. One was 600 odd pages long, and they have all run together in my mind so that the characters and plots are completely jumbled. Next year I don't think I'll indulge myself like that again, I have literary indigestion.The family got on great, there were games with the dogs and mock sword fights on the lawn like a scene from the Princess Bride, hysterical bouts of Pictionary and companionable laughter in front of the telly. I do love my boys and the girls they've chosen....

Exactly 21 years ago I was in labour with Matthew, not the most comfortable way to welcome in the New Year. But he was worth it, and I can't believe it was that long ago. Keryn and I are now going to watch a dvd and raise our glasses to the New Year,and Matt's coming of age, remember the old year and make plans for the next. I hope 2009 is a great year for all of us and that you'll hang around and see what Keryn and I get up to!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

I managed to put the binding on this runner yesterday, so I have another finished object. The centre square in square blocks were made with the leftover red triangles from this project, and extra square in square blocks from this top. I was going to add them to the orphans pile when by accident they were jumbled up with the paler green fabric. "Hmm", I thought, "Why not add another round of triangles...." and so I did, and then I decided to make a little project, something I could use straight away. The orphan pile is tottering anyway!It took no time at all to piece, and when Keryn was quilting her runners I threw this onto the remaining backing fabric and had it quilted before I even knew it. Yay for little projects.
But I'd made nine blocks to use up all the bits, so there was still one block to donate to the orphans anyway. I can't use up Everything it seems.

I don't know what this block is called; I've been referring to it as "Fancy Churn Dash" but I suppose I should go look it up somewhere. It's finally in one piece, except for the corner setting triangles and the borders, but I know what I want to do and hopefully it won't take too long.
I started these ages ago and kitted them up from some reproductions my friend Kaye gave me. I was so thrilled at the time, but now they appear a bit dull, in light of what I've added to the stash since then. But I'll always remember how special they were to me when genuine reproduction fabric was rare here and usually more than I could afford.
I don't know why, but I just adore on-point settings. I tip blocks on their point as a matter of course and there's very few that I don't like from this angle. There are so many possibilities with every block, how could we run out of ideas?


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Here are the red and yellow blocks set together, and looking a bit washed out. It's very red in real life. Keryn has since added the outer row of sashing and we'll do something about borders today, hopefully. Another top to join the pile! I like how these turned out but didn't get excited until the indigo corner posts were added. I LOVE green and indigo for some reason.
I just finished making two heat bags for a friend who wants them for Christmas gifts. She did the cute stitcheries from an Anni Downes pattern and I sewed them up for her. I still have two more to do today, and although I don't usually 'do' little things I'm intrigued by how fast you can finish them. It's nice to see progress on something in hours instead of weeks!
How cute.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Well, it seems that my talents could be in demand, judging by your response! Keryn and I will organise the Stash Tidy Tour 2009 and let you know when we'll be in your area. She's just along to carry the bags of course.....

Judy had a Quiltathon weekend, and we decided to join in. I sewed at home on Saturday and jumped all over the place with lots of different projects.

I started these green Duck Paddle blocks last month, based yet again on a quilt I saw on ebay. I wanted to use a pile of old greens and try to stay just in two colour mode, so green and cream it is. I've got about 14 of these done now and lots more cut out.
I began setting these blocks and got all the rows done, now I just need to cut out the setting triangles for the sides and that can be finished.

I had a heap of these cream triangles cut so I'm thinking of cross blocks for my next leader ender project, hmmm, skinny or fat? I'm just making both at the moment...And these are my old leader ender blocks which are coming to an end, have to see about a setting for them too.

I cut out dozens of blocks for other projects, if Keryn can't stop sewing, I can't stop cutting! I know Christmas plans will derail the sewing for a bit, and I figure that if everything's cut I might be able to put a few bits together at odd moments. I have a mountain of tiny offcuts on the floor by my table, it's quite impressive actually. SOOO much fabric has been chopped up in the last few days I'm feeling quite virtuous.

After tea I went around to Keryn's place and we sewed until the very early hours. The coffee kept coming, the tv entertained us and both sewing machines whirred steadily along. I can't believe how much we got done, and it all seemed effortless. How nice to sew with good company and be spurred on by each other's efforts.
I got the last ten of these album blocks finished, except for those two missing corner triangles. I couldn't find them anywhere, but yesterday I got down and ferreted under the machine table and found them behind a stack of drawers. Won't take me long to sew them on.

I went home at 3.30 and I wasn't even yawning! Talking to Keryn later the next day we discovered that we both woke up at exactly 11.20, must have been on the same internal clock.
I went back last night and we sewed again , but I don't have any pictures of my progress on the red and yellow Pensylvania Dutch blocks that I was setting together. I got half of it in one piece, but I made sure I was home in my own bed by twelve o'clock. We're not as young as we used to be, after all......


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

When Keryn and I lived 3000k away from each other I laboured under the impression that our work methods were fairly similar. She did a lot more cutting than I , resulting in parcels of excess strips and scraps being sent my way at regular intervals, but I really thought that we operated under the same principles.

But after a year of observing her in her natural envoironment I'm forced to conclude that when it comes to the sewing room we have different outlooks.
Recently she cut some scraps up, and this is her 2 1/2" drawer afterwards. Can you see the problem of trying to force this back where it belongs? The solution is to either get a bigger drawer, or to leave it stacked somewhere with other drawers that won't fit in their respective places.OR...... your sister could come along and sort and stack it all so that it does actually fit in the container and then put it away.
Likewise when cutting half square triangles for a project, you could do this, and have teetering piles that you can't move quickly, and that get creased and rumpled
or your little quilting elf could stack them into dark and light piles and then put them in a little container to keep next to your machine.
Now no-one who knows me could accuse me of being neat and housework is the very bottom of my list, but for some reason I love to organise my sewing room. I like everything to be sorted and projects together, scraps ironed while they wait to be cut, drawers tidy. Sometimes while I'm having a cup of coffee, in between bouts of sewing I'll just pull out a drawer and quickly tidy it, because I like to do it. I like to fossick through what I've got, I like to handle the fabric and I like to dream of what I can do with it.

And don't think I'm saying Keryn's way is wrong! She does lovely work and she gets caught up in the frenzy of sewing, and things literally go flying when she's looking for the right bit. She doesn't want anything to get in the way of what she's doing when she's sewing furiously, and all she focusses on is getting it done. I don't know that she would ever change, or whether it's even desirable.
But I do get sick of the lost things, the blocks that can't be found, the material that vanishes, the tools that disappear the minute you put them down.Which is why I crept guiltily into her sewing room when she was away and organised it for her. Now I would be horrified if someone did that to me, but I know how she likes to work, how she differs from me and I basically kept everything the same. I just grouped things together, for instance there were three drawers with 2 1/2" strips in different locations, so I combined them to two drawers of lights and darks and put them in the same place. I put drawing and drafting tools together, all the papers in one spot, rulers where they're used most, kits and projects together. I made sure to leave all Keryn's organisation the same, and just maximised the space and put away the flotsam and jetsam.
I honestly don't think she notices that much and I've decided that as I LIKE to do this tidying that I will just putter around a couple of times a week and put away the things she's finished with. I've got a basket of scraps near the cutting board and I'm cutting them up for her while we chat in the sewing room, and one day I'll have the three containers of scraps under control too.
Now the question is, am I a wonderful quilting angel/elf who you'd like to have a visit from, or just a control freak who can't leave other people's things alone?!!


Saturday, November 29, 2008

What along time since I posted anything. Keryn went away for a week and that meant I had to water both gardens and look after both houses and do the customer quilts as well. I was Busy! I thought I'd just put up a heap of pictures as my excuse, and hopefully I can blog regularly from now on. I can sense a New Year's resolution coming on...

A cuddly flannelette quilt..

This is the back of the quilt above. I had to make the backing bigger by adding strips all round and I didn't have high hopes of being able to centre the cream middle bit because once it's on the frame you can't really see what's going on. But it came out nearly perfect, phew! (The bottom edges are curling in, so they look skinnier, but take my word, it was even on all sides) Three darling baby quilts.
And I haven't got a photo of the one that came off the frame last night, so there's more to come!


Sunday, November 09, 2008

I'm having a nice time pottering in my room and sorting things out. Still haven't found the missing sashes, and I'll probably have to choose a new fabric. (The missing bits were the maroon stripe in the foreground.)
The antique quilt I based it on had lots of different stripes used in the sashing and I was going to use just two, but I guess I'll be following the original by having three or more fabrics.

As a reward for slaving over the huge quilt I wanted to do something little and decided a runner like Keryn's would be a quick project. In my searches I pulled open a drawer and found some leftover 9-patches, and as the 3 1/2" strip drawer was getting full I made setting squares from them. The resulting top is twice as wide as this (couldn't get it all in one photo) and used all but four of the blocks.
The 3 1/2" drawer still wouldn't shut properly and I was sick of a bag of 2" strips that Keryn had given me, so it all went into the backing. I simply pieced all the bits on their short edges into long, long strips, then cut the lengths I needed for the back, with a bit extra to allow for quilting. As I sewed the lengths together I was amazed at how much it took, this would be a good way to get rid of those stubborn boring bits that refuse to 'go' with anything else. Looks boring and ho-hum, but it's the Back! Who's going to see it, I ask you? Probably everyone because I'll turn it over and show them....

I have these two vintage baskets in my sewing room. The one with the blue handle is my ironing basket and fabric, scraps and strips that need pressing wait in there, next to the ironing board. When I've finished pressing seams I usually take out a few small bits and press them and trim them to size before I cut my next lot of pieces for the current project. It's a good way to keep on top of the bits that accumulate.
But the next basket is my tiny scraps and triangles and there's no way of emptying this unless I spend hours there trimming. I take consolation from the fact that it's never been completely full, so I must be making some indent, but cut a few bindings or have a friend give you a wee baggie and suddenly it's brimming again. I figure the baskets take up the same space empty OR full, so what does it matter? As long as I never have to get a second basket for tiny scraps I'll be happy.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

The huge quilt is completely finished and has had it's mug shot taken; I'm looking forward to this leaving because it takes up so much room! I'm pleased with the way it's turned out, but I can't get over the size of it hanging up, and there's a lot just draped on the ground too. I need something small and manageable now, that I can get finished quickly.

Isn't the border fabric gorgeous?
Tonight is our small patchwork class (next year we should be able to expand our lessons) and two ladies have completed tops so far. I'm going to be quilting both of them (the tops, not the ladies!) and they're so pretty I'm looking forward to it. There's lots of stitcheries on both; we seem to have done quite a few of them in the last year, and I've got some ideas for them already.I'm going to try out some of our pretty variegated threads on these; I never thought I'd get so excited about thread, but it's fun to see how they react to the fabric and makes the quilting even more interesting to do.

The madder top is coming along but I seem to have lost half the sashes. Both Keryn and I can remember me cutting them out about a year ago, but now there's not enough- another hint that I need to sort things out? ........


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My customer quilt was finally loaded on the machine(stopping first to admire the seams on the back- why do I like taking photos of the patterns the seams make?) It turned out huge, as per request, but it seemed to stretch off into the distance in an alarming way. That's a hell of a lot of top to quilt!
It's about 110" square, so when it came time to bind it I had to cut ten strips of fabric; that was a first for me. I tried not to think about the sewing on part, but it had to be tackled.

The sewing machine all but disapppeared in the mountain of fabric, and it took quite a bit of man-handling to get the last stitches put in place. I machine-sewed the binding down, no way could I do all this by hand or the price would have gone up for the extra hours of work.
I'll take a good photo of it tomorrow when Keryn is there to help me hang it but it's so heavy and long it will need lots of muscles and the tallest rungs on the quilt stand.
I've started putting my madder blocks together and I love the way they're turning out. Ahhh, these are more my colours!
And this is the view of the other end of the machine..... I think we could do with a bit of a tidy-up, don't you?


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yesterday morning I woke up early and turned on the light it was still so dark. I was looking forward to the morning's work, and then getting ready for a special luncheon date with Keryn and 80 other lovely ladies of the town.This event is eagerly looked forward to every year and tickets are snapped up months ahead of time. I could hardly wait.

Something buzzed past my head and I assumed it was a blowfly, the herald of Spring in country Australia. But no, it was a BEE, and I quickly realised the chimney was full of them, trying to get out to the light. Fortuneately there is a mesh screen in the fireplace, or the room would have literally been swarming with them.

Now while I immensely admire the bee in itself and am fascinated by their society, thirty of them flying around my room is the stuff of nightmares!So I flipped the light off, rushed out and slammed the door while I worked out a battle plan.(The first thing to do was ring Keryn and shout "Help!" into the phone.....)

She was much calmer than I, having handled bees in her days at agricultural college and was less than supportive of my insistence on spraying the lot of them. But we couldn't block off the screen properly without dealing with the ones loose in the room, so they were dispatched with flyspray. The sound of them buzzing was terrifying and I decided to clear them out of the way so they didn't dive bomb us or crawl up our legs. Quickest way?- the vacuum! This worked well until Keryn was doing the floor near my open travel bag and there was a loud rattle of something disappearing up the tube.
Whatever it was remained firmly stuck in the bend of the tube and so we had to dismantle the various bits, pulling the hose out and finally managing to dislodge this little bottle of cuticle oil, of all things!
It was so firmly jammed I thought it would never come loose!!All the while the buzzing in the chimney grew louder and angrier and Bees were crawling under the screen ...... Meltdown was quickly approaching.

Eventually all stray bees were sucked up, and we set to work stuffing the gaps around the screen with scraps of batting- betcha didin't think of that use for it, did you? It's not pretty, but while the hive is in the chimney every fireplace here is going to look like this.
Next stage of the hurriedly constructed Plan was to spray up the chimney to encourage them to find a new home. I heard the swarm outside yesterday, so I knew they hadn't been there long. Easy for them to upsticks and move on now before they got settled. But the squirts up the chimney(through the screen so that it looked like this)

produced a deep reverberating growl that positively vibrated the brickwork and made us stare at each other in apprehension. We had Angered them. A lot. Time to retire and have a cup of coffee and think about this.

It occurred to both of us as we sipped our coffee in the sunroom that none of this had been on the schedule today. My bedroom was wrecked, the vacuum was stuffed full of bees, there was unsightly batting festooning the fireplaces and flyspray dripping down the screens.As we looked at the garden we saw that it was now full of angry, Angry bees dashing all over the place. Hmmm. What had happened to that enjoyable day I'd envisaged?

I decided we'd contained the problem for now and it was time to get back on track. There was a lady at the luncheon whose husband kept bees and she might know what to do.

The luncheon (in aid of the local Hospital Guild) was a delight. They put on an "Entertainment" and my face hurt from laughing at the end of it. After the chaos of the morning it was just what I needed.

And here is a little wall-hanging that a dear friend gave us for our birthdays. After a recent trip to town where we scored quite a few really good bargains I think that both of us looked like that little mouse, staggering back to the car.
Do you think our friend is trying to tell us something?


Saturday, October 25, 2008

I forgot to mention that it was our 50th birthday, hmm, I wonder if that was Freudian and I'm actually worried about how old I am? Don't think so, but I found myself telling someone I was 'middle-aged' now and realised I'd have to live to be 100 for that to be really true....

I made another Scrap Castle the other day when the bin finally got too full for me to squash anything more into it. There are some larger pieces in there because I weeded out some sheeting bits that were lurking in the scrap drawers- begone foul polyester!
This means that now I can pick up all the bits off the floor and tidy up properly, - when I get this customer top I'm piecing finished.
It's going to be Huge, so I expect to wrestle with it for quite a few hours today. Even though it's turning out very nicely and it's been fun to work on I'm really longing for some dusty blues and browns and some pinks.....I plan to have a play in my scraps when this is done and then begin a new quilt like Andrea does on her birthday. (And we share the same day, that's pretty cool) What a great tradition to instigate, and even though I couldn't start it on the day I keep thinking about my 'birthday quilt' and am vowing to do it properly next year. Hmm, should it be part of the vow that I've finished the quilt from the Last birthday? Probably.

And this box is reproaching me, I really want to get this set of blocks together. They were pieced from all my most precious madder fabrics and it's about time they were finished.

Back to the customer top first.....


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