Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I got back home on Sunday afternoon, boy delivered safely to Newcastle and settled in to new space. Here he is modelling the quilt for the benefit of Aunty Keryn- he even put it on the bed in the hotel room where we stayed, so I think he likes it!

I only had a morning to look around before I flew home, and we went to the beach- glorious sand and surf and sun...I was very impressed with the place and think he and Elisa will love it there.
I don't know where I'm at; got 200 photos to look at and 5 new customer quilts came while I was gone- I'll post properly soon but at the moment I don't know whether I'm Arthur or Martha, as my Mum used to say! (That seems strange now that I think of it. Implies a bit of gender confusion, but she meant that everything was disorganised and chaotic. Might have to do some research...)


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I don't think I posted a picture of the quilt that was on the frame in Keryn's picture here. I started it many years ago when I was preganant with Matt (that makes it at least 20 years- yikes)and I can't remember the name. I only set the blocks together 2 years ago, so it was a long time in the finishing, and now it's been taken off the frame half-done, (thank goodness for zippers), so that an urgent quilt can be finished.

Isn't it strange how you can be cruising along thinking you know where everything's headed and then life decides to change?

I'd been enjoying Second son Rob's visits with fiance Elisa and the ever lovable Curtis - he lives in Adelaide 200k away, but she lives in our old hometown just 25k from here. So he visited quite regularly, and it was nice to have them drop in.

But now he's moving to Newcastle, which is about 1500k from here, to start a new job. There won't be any more 'drop in' visits, and when Elisa moves over to join him next year there won't be any more Curtis stories either. Double bummer!

He's driving over, and planned to do it non-stop and alone, which sent me into a tail-spin. I'm not a very protective mother, I believe in letting them get on with their lives and not interfering. Sometimes they tell me of incidents that I would have worried about, but since everything turned out ok (or they wouldn't be telling me), it makes no sense to get upset after the fact.
But Rob is a diabetic, and one who doesn't really display warning signs of a 'low' until he's well and truly in it. And then, because low blood sugar affects your reasoning processes, sometimes he's a bit disorientated about what to do.

He's been a diabetic since he was 11, so he knows the ropes pretty well. Twice he's been so low he had seizures and had to be hospitalised, something I hope never happens again.Over the years he's told me stories of monster lows that I knew nothing about- the time when he was out walking with friends (exercise makes blood sugar go down) and got so low that they had to drag him bodily into a shop to get some food for him, and the owner refused to serve him because she thought he was drunk.

Or the time someone at Uni found him wandering around and, thankfully, took him to the nurses station because he was so confused.... The sad thing is some people do think the confusion and staggering and being unable to say what's wrong means someone drunk or on drugs.
I'm not over-reacting when I feel anxiety about him driving all this way on his own as well as navigating and remembering to eat enough to keep concious. So.... I'm going with him. I'll be away until Sunday, and then I'll be home, wondering where I was and what was I doing? Send safe thoughts for us!

Oh well, at least the other two are settled.... what's that? Matt and the dogs are moving back home for a while?! O....K..... I guess it really is miserable out at Bowman's Park in the middle of winter and it will be nice having such a good cook around and I do love seeing the dogs every day....

And that leaves just the First-Born son, good dependable John just cruising along....... until I get this phone call two days ago. "Hi Mum, I'll see you on Wednesday won't I? Great, I can say good-bye before I fly out to America...."

WHATTT!!!! Apparently his work is flying him to America for two months and he doesn't even know where he's going yet. He'll live in some hotel and do the work he's doing here, ...but on the other side of the world.
So All my sons have pulled a whammy on me in the last few weeks and have taken new directions, how funny. I'll get back on Sunday and Rob will be in Newcastle, John will be in America, and hopefully Matt will have the coffee on and Bacon Wrapped Jalopeno Thingies waiting for me. I'm going to need them.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Never let it be said we're not up for a challenge! We got an unusual request from a local lady who had heard we had a quilting machine; namely, to repair a woolen underlay that she wanted to keep on using. The cotton liner on one side had shredded but the wool part was still good, and new ones of this quality are in the hundreds of dollars.

She brought it to us hoping it would go on the gammill, but it was far too thick for the hopping foot, and we didn't want to risk throwing the timing off by even trying.

Enter Ethel, the ancient industrial Singer. I bought this years ago, hoping I'd be able to free motion on it, but I suspect that she didn't like the frivolous nature of the request and refused to co-operate. (And you can't drop the feed dogs which was probably the real reason.)

As an aside, this machine was named after Aunty Ethel, the seamstress who sewed our Mum's wedding dress. She never married so hence had no children of her own and was reputed to be a no-nonsense, rather severe type. Mum's cousins were always sent to stay with her when their mother was in a 'delicate' condition, so the older ones knew a stint at Aunty Ethel's meant a new sibling when they returned home. Apparently it was a relief on both sides when the baby finally appeared, because she wasn't exactly equipped for entertaining small children, and at least one of the cousins wasn't good at behaving under any circunstances.
We thought this sturdy capable workhorse would have been cast along the no-nonsense lines of Aunty , so Ethel she became.
We weren't quite sure how to best go about this, so it was all guesswork. The new liner was pressed into lengths to give us lines to sew along, then pinned to the underlay (Queensize, by the way)to keep it in place.And it's over to Ethel.....
Can you see why we've been referring to this as "The dead sheep" all weekend?
Keryn and I are both in awe of this old machine.She sewed beautifully over the lumpy bumpy wool, and never missed a beat, as long as we didn't let the horribly heavy mass pull against her. At one stage I said it was like sewing through a gigantic cheese sandwich, it was just so thick and spongy, but Ethel trundled steadily along and completed the task beautifully. Sometimes people wonder why we have so many machines, but we can always find one to suit a particular job, and I admire them all for their different strengths.
Look at that, it must be at least 3/4" thick! This morning we're going to whip around the edge, and hope the lady is pleased with our result- she didn't think it would be possible.
Here's my project of the moment, but it's going to stay secret for a while. (Looks a bit like a centipede, doesn't it?)There are hundreds and hundreds of little 1" hst involved, so it will take a LOT of sewing. Don't expect a finished object any time soon.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Matt and the dogs stayed in the other night and I introduced him to The Pioneer Woman Cooks site. We have some straggling jalopeno bushes still bearing a few chilis, so he decided to make Bacon Wrapped Jalopeno Thingies. Everything she says about them is true, they were so delicious we couldn't stop eating them. (If you like chilis, that is)

Macca thought they smelled pretty wonderful and did his best to get a taste, but we weren't going to waste them on him, because they were too hot for him to eat.
(Please excuse the dreadful photos, but the camera was on a strange setting and I didn't notice until it was too late. I thought I'd use them anyway, you'll get the idea)

Oh, the groans and moans and pleading that went on here! (And that was just me begging Matt for another one!) We felt really mean , and Matt gave him three doggy treats, but the smell of that bacon was irresistible.He was such a good boy, sitting up very straight and minding his manners (he'll never take food unless he's told he can have it), but nothing worked on us old stony-hearts.
PLEEEEEase!!!!!!!! *sigh*


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I've been handsewing my vintage rosettes at night and they go together surprisingly quickly. I've got enough made for another three rows and I think I might try hexagon borders to bring this out to a large single bed size. But I might be sick of it completely by then, so I won't commit myself.
I was going through some tiny boxes that I'd put in a cupboard and forgotten, and look what I found- More hexagons! There was one little block in there, but this will be incorporated straight into the vintage project, even if some of the fabrics are only 10 years old. That's close enough to vintage for me! My sewing room is always throwing these little surprises at me, will I ever know what is in every nook and cranny? I'm being good and pressing all my seam allowances as I go along, so I don't end up like Keryn, and have to iron for hours later on.
I'm fascinated by the patterns that seam allowances make when they fan out like this, so neat and precise. And yes, when hand piecing I trim each seam as soon as I've sewn it; takes but a second and I never have hairy backs.
These hexagons are 3/4" along one side by the way. I love the old fabrics, there's a pink gingham on the right that is a scrap of Mum's- we had sunbonnets made from it as babies. And some of our teenage sewing scraps from sundresses and skirts and dancing dresses; even if I didn't like the quilt for itself I'd love it for all the memories it will hold.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Keryn and I are hard at work dealing with all the tops that have come in lately. I thought I'd give you a photo essay (thanks for that phrase Henrietta, I like it) of a day in the life of a longarm quilter.First, there was this on the frame... It's 94" by 105", so this one's big. Not the biggest I've ever done, that honour belonged to a 109" monster that I quilted on my Janome 6500, and I even managed to freehand in the centre of it. Now with our lovely Ms Millhouse I'll never have to do that again, shudder...This took hours and hours, even with the Statler, those rows were looong.While that's stitching away, quilting one of Keryn's pantos, Country Garden over it..I get this little baby quilt ready to post back to it's owner. This was a kit quilt, and it turned out very nicely.A knock at the door, and two more tops come in- but one of them is just a pile of patches and embroidery which we will set together as well! Service is our middle name!

Then it's onto this quilt, spread out on our large table and checked for threads and any problems. See those little orange 'flags'? We pin those on the quilt as we go along, anywhere that needs attention later on, thread starts that have to be woven in, overstitching that has to be unpicked, threads to be clipped.It's done with good ole Celtic Scrolls, always a safe choice for a guy's quilt because it's not flowery and sissy.Then it's hung up for it's mug shot. I'm keeping a record of all the quilts that we do, and eventually plan to print out each one into a 'brag book', that will also help to show customers what we do. It's nice to look back and see how much we have done, it's easy to forget what you've accomplished sometimes.
This quilt is waiting to be picked up, a first quilt started by a young mother for her first child.That little girl is now two years old, and the mum was thrilled to have found us and get this finished at last.

A lot of people have been requesting that we make the binding and sew it on as well, so that all they have to do is handstitch it down. Now we might be considered weird, but we both actually like the binding process, so if they're willing to pay a bit exta, we don't mind doing it.
How did it get to be so dark outside? The days just seem to fly by, and they're full of quilts. And after we stop working on all the customer quilts we go off and sew our own. Perhaps we're more than a 'little' weird......
But it's a good weird.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

My sewing table is a mess at the moment, because I've been auditioning fabrics for some sets of blocks. I've finished quite a few old projects lately- to the top stage anyway, and now I want to pick three more things to work on. It took me hours yesterday morning, and some time today to make my decisions, and I have stacks of rejected fabric to put back in the drawers. I think I know where I'm headed now, and I've worked out the setting plans on graph paper so I know what to cut and how much fabric I need. I'm ready to go!
I keep sets of blocks in these pizza boxes, or deep egg boxes, and my goal is to have some empty ones soon.

Yesterday I got the borders on this top, which I call Double Reel. These blocks weren't old, but they used old fabric from the 80's, so I'm pleased to get them all out of my stash.

I really like the little stepstool from Ikea, I plan to buy another one for the workshop because it's nice and solid and we both need a little help in the height area.
The stained glass shot....
I've been knitting a stole at night, my own pattern, using a shetland lace stitch called Madiera and Diamond and an edging I thunk up. I bought this gorgeous merino 2 ply laceweight last year at the Sydney show, and I realised I wasn't going to have enough to make the stole the length I wanted.
After a bit of searching I found the supplier in New Zealand, and was able to secure another skein. The colours look a great match but I'll work alternate rows for a while to blend the two dyelots together. I've really enjoyed this knitting, I adore lace, but I'm rather slack at blocking it afterwards. I've got two lace shawls in the cupboard waiting, and I might have to treat myself to some blocking wires soon. Can't handle all that pinning.


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