Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Scrap progress

I sewed the rest of the Hunter's Star blocks, and decided the new sewing room arrangement was going to work really well.  I should sew the blocks together, but I'm still fine-tuning the placement of them.  And it seemed like hard work, so then I decided to come up with a scrap project, to use up the mountains of scraps and to be a good leader-ender.  That was a monumental task, but I finally settled on some Northwind blocks.  They are lovely to make, I did 16 and cut out a whole heap more. 

Scraps make my brain hurt. I spent most of the weekend looking through boxes and plastic containers and ziplock bags, trying to make some sense of what was in there.  It was so overwhelming that I actually achieved very little, but there was one positive result. I was so confused that I resorted to writing down what was wrong with my scrap setup, and then writing possible solutions, and then making lists of things to do to make those solutions work.

I'm not that sort of person normally, I like to potter around and make a mess and only clean half of it up, and leave the rest for another day.  Then, at some stage, I go through the whole sewing room and put it to rights.  The problem now is that I don't have the time to spend wading around in half finished stuff and discards from two projects ago. I'm wasting the sewing time I have, trying to find things or tripping over unnecessary things. Sigh ***

I'm using my accuquilt dies wherever possible, but they require quite large pieces, and there were many, many scraps that were too small. After a whole weekend of prevaricating I finally sat down and cut a whole box of bits into strips or squares and filed them away in the scrap drawers.  Which was wonderful, but I could have done so much more if I'd worked at it all weekend. 

I set up a cutting station on a small folding table, using an IKEA Lazy Susan and a small cutting mat. My Martelli cutter made all the difference, it was easy to cut sitting down which is a huge thing for me.  I find it really hard to stand up and cut for hours at a time, so this was brilliant. In fact I'll do it again next week, after I return from a trip to see the family.  Just when I'm getting enthusiastic I'm leaving for a week. Never mind, Isla and Seonaid are more fun than scraps.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Happy sewing time

I needed a quiet day to catch up after my week away, so not much happened when I first arrived home. The next day I felt much better, and spent many hours in the sewing room, sewing and cutting more pieces. The Hunter's Star is growing quickly, which makes me want to see even more progress.

 I've sewn a heap of pieces together for the next 6 blocks, which will make this top 5 x 6.  I'll have a break from them then, and think about how big I want to make it.  I'm not sick of the blocks at all, which is a bonus; I'd hate to be making all these 8-point stars and not enjoying it.
 When I get tired of matching points on the 8 point stars, I move onto the Checkered Lattice blocks, which are mindless sewing.  I'm really enjoying these soft green fabrics, they aren't my usual palette and it's a pleasant change.
Some madness possessed me this week, and I changed my whole sewing room around yet again.  I moved all my spinning and knitting stuff into the lounge room, and now I have a lot more space in the sewing room.  I want to do a lot of cutting and sewing this weekend to make sure that the new setup feels right.  I will be tackling my scrap fabric I think, while I was moving things around I uncovered many, many containers of scraps, and a lot of fabric pieces smaller than a fat eighth.  They need to be dealt with, not shuffled into a new spot in my rearranged room.  Didn't I already do this in January?  Where did these scraps come from if I haven't been quilting this year?  It's a bit of a mystery.

I bought the whole series of Lewis,
which is a follow-on to the Morse series.  I love these British police dramas, set in Oxford.  The scenery, the music, the clever plots; I never get tired of them.  And because I have something interesting to watch on TV, I'm inclined to keep sewing longer than I normally would.


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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

A busy week

Last week was very intense.  My daughter Seonaid works in Events Management, which means long, long hours before the event.  She was working the Stevie Nicks concert, and I was due to go down and look after Isla for the last few days.  However, a week before the concert Isla developed a horrible viral condition called Hand, Foot and Mouth, involving painful blisters.  She couldn't go to daycare because it's so contagious, so it was Nan to the rescue, and I nursed her through it for 6 days.
Her mouth was full of bleeding blisters, and she couldn't eat anything, which is the end of the world for a little girl who loves her food.  She lived on bottles of formula, and yoghurt when she could manage it. She just wanted to sit with me and draw or play with her stickers, so that's all we did.  Her routine is built around meal and snack times, so when she couldn't eat the day seemed to stretch out in a formless string of hours.  
Seonaid left for work before Isla was awake, and got home at 9.30 when she was asleep; Isla never even batted an eyelid at her Mum being gone for a week, and me being there instead.  It's such a blessing to have been a huge part of her life, so that I'm just as much a comfort as her mum.

I knew she was on the mend when she started playing with her doll again,

and trying to wrap the dog up in blankets, 
and arguing with me about whether she should be allowed to stick pencils in her ear (I won that battle).

Seonaid worked until 4.30am the night of the concert, making the figures from the bars balance, and finalising all the admin stuff, because she and Isla were leaving the next day to fly to Queensland to spend time with the family there.  There was the rest of the day for packing, then we were up at 3.45 the next morning to leave for the airport.  We were a bunch of tired little Vegemites, but at last they were on the plane, and I could drive back to collect Dolly and make my way home, 2 hours north.

In Brisbane Seonaid collected her brother Rhys, and they visited Great Grandma. 

 Isla was a frazzled little camper in the Queensland heat, but was happy to sit with Uncle Rhys and look at his phone,  before flying on to Rockhampton to see Grandad.  This is her third trip, she's a well travelled baby, but she doesn't always behave herself.  

As Uncle Rhys says, "It's a good thing she's cute."
  

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Hunters Star

I've been sewing quite a lot in the last week; it feels good to be enthusiastic about my projects again, after such a slump.  The blue squares are in one piece, and I thought they just needed a border.  
However, while I was cleaning up I found a whole basket of pieces I'd cut and then forgotten, enough for another 25 blocks at least.  Sigh, why don't I remember these things anymore?  Someone in the shop the other day asked if we had any king-size quilts, which makes my heart quail at the thought of something that big; but if we made one, it would have to be an easy block like this.  I'm pondering whether I have enough energy to make this a king-size quilt.

Those easy blocks were a bit boring, so I turned to the Hunter's Star blocks for some more challenging sewing.  
They are cut with an Accuquilt die from here, and while there are downsides like the bias edges on the blocks, it's still easy to put together.  I sewed like a train on these, just pushing one block after another through the machine, and it was fun.
They look wonderful on the design wall, and I can't wait to make more; good thing it's so easy to cut the pieces, I'll soon have a stack of new bits ready to sew 
I'm thinking ahead to the Checkered Lattice blocks, trying to find a good variety of fabrics in the stash.  I don't have a lot of clear, happy colours, most of my stash is 1800s reproduction, so it's hard to find anything that will work.  I don't want to have to buy more, but I will if I can't make this quilt with what I have.
And I'm still plodding away on the borders for the Economy block quilt, using the Flying Geese as leader-enders.  120 done, 40 to go.  I'll cut the last of the pieces I need today, and then the end will be in sight.  It feels good to have some energy back.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Keeping busy

This is our shop, in Crystal Brook.  
It's called Quilts and Collectibles, and we've stocked it with a range of our quilts, some fabric, and many of the gorgeous little things we've collected over the years.  The things in the shop are what we're prepared to part with, we still have lots of treasures at home. Mereth keeps producing wonderful things that I've never seen before, she must have so much stashed away.  I never really had to monitor how much I had, because I have so much storage room; but I'm finally wanting a bit more space, so certain select things are going into the shop.
There are three of us stocking and running it, and we're having fun meeting fellow enthusiasts from all over Australia.  There are so many people travelling in caravans, and they visit our little towns to get an idea of country life. It's interesting to talk to people who've been on the road for a year; I'm pretty sure I couldn't manage without my sewing room for that long.
We've sold a lot of quilts, now there is room on the shelves at home for more, so we can get quilting soon, knowing there is somewhere to put them.  Tops take up much less room, but I have a hankering to finish some of my favourites.
I've had that Royal Winton tea set since 1981; I was moving up to Queensland and I traded all my household furniture for this tea set.  Mereth looked after it for me until I came back in 2007, and I've enjoyed it ever since.  It was a setting for 8, so I kept 2 trios, and a cake plate and sugar bowl, and the rest can go home with someone who loves it.
I made a trial block of my Hunter's Star and scorched it; I am such a klutz at times.  I'll leave it for now, and make the other blocks I have cut out.  I may not need this one, but if I do I can pull it apart and replace the scorched fabric then.  I make so much extra work for myself sometimes.
While I"m manning the shop I've been working on my Moorland blanket, from Attic 24.  It's easy, and I'm always trying to get one more row done.  I'm over half way, and enjoying it so much that I think I'll do one of her other blankets, next winter.  It's getting too hot here to be making rugs.
I'm selling a few of my machines too, they are a talking point with the older folk who come in.  Sometimes it's like we're a little museum, inspiring all these memories in people.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Back at last

This has been my worst year ever for blogging, there are just so many demands on my time that there has been very little sewing, and nothing finished at all.  I've been busy with family and health concerns, not to mention a new business, but the main problem is I just haven't felt like sewing.  It's been a decade since I fell into such a slump, but I've obeyed my instincts and let all my projects just sit and marinate.  The enthusiasm will return.

My months and months of coughs & colds and tests led to a diagnosis of chronic lung disease, worsened by an allergy to my budgies.  I still have trouble believing that my rescue of that little blue bird, and subsequent friends I bought for it, could lead to impaired lung function, but the tests said otherwise.  So the birds have found another home, I miss their cheerful chatter but it wasn't an option to keep them.

I'm quite healthy except for the fact I can't carry anything, and I get quite breathless if I hurry; it won't get any better, and it might get a lot worse, but for now I'm just going to take each day as it comes.

Another thing I had to give up is gardening, can't take the risk of catching something from potting mix or compost; Mereth has offered to do any repotting that needs to be done, so all I have to do is water things, but the majority of my plants have already been disposed of.  I spend so much time travelling now that I won't be able to keep things watered during summer and it all would die anyway.  Our Mum spent months at a time visiting her 4 children in turn, knowing full well that her garden would suffer in her absence; now I understand how she felt.

But I love my visits to Adelaide to spend time with Seonaid and Isla. 
Isla is 18 months old now, that time went so quickly.  I don't see nearly enough of her, but there are so many other things to fit in.

I help Mereth with her twin grand-babies; I try to go in once or twice a week and help with the night feeds. 
They are getting closer to sleeping all through the night, and it will be such a relief when they do.  The sleep deprivation was easier to handle when I was 28, but I'm 30 years older now!

And there's the new business; Mereth and I and a friend opened a shop in February, selling our gorgeous little things that we have collected for the last 30 years.  It's amazing to look around the shop and realise everything there came out of our households.  We have so much Stuff.  But it fits in nicely with my resolve to get rid of 30% of my stuff, and we are making a lot of people happy with our treasures.  I will take some photos tomorrow, ran out of time today.

This morning I sat in my sewing room and made a cutting list of all the projects that need to be moved on.  If I have a few spare moments I can cut these pieces and they'll be ready to sew whenever I get a few more spare moments.
 
I'm making some blue and white squares surrounded by strips, which are very simple.  They are what I can sew if I have 5 minutes to spare.
I started a Checkered Lattice from the Missouri Quilt Company, which I will work on in bigger blocks of time.
I'm STILL making Flying Geese for the border of my Economy block quilt.  Lots of those still to do, but thankfully I have all of them cut now.

I'm also cutting out a Hunter's Star with the Go Cutter, so I'm really giving the blue fabrics a workout. I might not have ANY left after this.

I'm learning how to use my smart phone to make life easier, uploading pictures to Blogger etc.  If I master this new technology I just may be able to blog more in future; there's hope yet that I can use these new-fangled machines properly!

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

My number one task for the weekend was to deal with the overflowing scrap containers on my cutting table.  I religiously keep all the leftovers and snippets and strips, and then don't store them sensibly.  I can't utilize them if they are a jumbled mess, so it was time to do some organizing.

There are so many layers, dating back several quilts, it's like an archaeological dig.  By the time I've excavated down to the bottom of each container I've revisited four or five projects.
1.5" strips and squares
It didn't feel very rewarding at the time, but I kept going. Only sheer determination kept me pressing and stacking, then cutting and stacking, until there weren't any more scraps to deal with.
3"strips and Square In Square parts
I should have felt even mild triumph, but my over-riding thought was 'I'm never going to do THAT again!'
Strips to send through the Go Cutter for triangles
It was a whole morning dedicated to a couple of boxes of bits that I had no immediate plans for.  In future I either deal with these little bits during a project, or I just donate them to someone who adores them (Mereth!!)
Totally random strip sizes
But look, there is my cutting table with not a thing to clutter it up.  I can start cutting for new projects any time I feel like it.
Of course that will be sooner rather than later, because another quilt from the Quilt Divas bok caught my attention.
All those 1.5" strips need to be cut up into something, so I worked out the dimensions of this block using that size strip. The blocks in the quilt shown are 4"and the pattern in the book makes a 5" one. Mine are 5.75" roughly, because I can't be cutting strange sizes for a hundred or more blocks.
Talk about cute overload!  I can't wait the make a heap more of these.





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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I sewed my Economy blocks into strips a couple of days ago, and then stalled.  I really don't like putting sashing together without corner posts, and I let that put me off.  I read somewhere that some quilters actually use corner posts of the same fabric, so that the seams are easy to align, but it's all the same fabric; yes that works, but I couldn't bring myself to do that either.

It only took an hour this morning to cut all the sashing strips I needed, and mark the seam intersections on them so I can line up all the rows of blocks nicely
 I let the smallest things derail my sewing sometimes! Now I can spend the afternoon getting the blocks all joined together ready for that Flying Geese border.

I bought this book for Mereth for Christmas, and promptly borrowed it back.
There are some lovely quilts in there, and cheddar features in quite a few of them. This basket is really appealing to me right now, and I have the perfect match for the setting fabric, there on the left.  It's a solid, and I"m not used to working with solids, but I should give it a go anyway.
 I could use a whole heap of other cheddars in the basket blocks, it would be so much fun.
I have two other fabrics that would work for the sashing if I'm not brave enough to use the solid.
And this Ohio Star would be perfect for my Quaker red fabrics too.  I'm just swamped in possibilities here,
So pretty!
 I'm not going to cut anything new out till I deal with the scraps on my table,  There are so many that I can't move without knocking over the stacks.  This afternoon I intend to deal with this pile of bits and pieces.  Time to restore order in the sewing room.




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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

10 days into the new year, and finally I have time to stop and look around and decide what I'd like to do next.  I spent 10 days at my DD's place after Christmas, and I've been back again for another weekend, which hasn't left much time to myself.  Add in family visits and work commitments and it's no wonder that my house is still in upheaval and my sewing room is unorganized.

I'm going to pack away all my spinning gear, it's too hot to be working with fleece at the moment, so it's just taking up room in the sewing space.  I started spinning samples of two Corriedale X fleeces for a Fair Isle project, one grey and one nearly black.  It's a challenge, spinning the two colours to be exactly the same thickness, but I'm learning how to gain more control.

I'll keep knitting the sample and decide exactly what patterns I want to use, and when the cool weather returns I'll be able to start spinning and knitting in earnest.  This hot weather is the perfect time to wash fleece tho, so I'll tackle that over the next few weeks.  And I just might start experimenting with dyeing, I've always wanted to try that.

I started cutting out a red and white quilt, from some Judie Rothermel reds that have been maturing in the stash for about 6 years.


They are from a range called Quaker Quilts, and I've been trying to find the perfect project for them for years.
I've got enough to make two or three quilts, so I'll cut out this one and I'll keep looking for another pattern to use up the rest of them.  I want to use them all together, I don't like them mixed up with my other reproductions, and I should never buy them again after this.

I've finished all the Economy blocks, and this afternoon I'll cut out some Flying Geese units for a border.
I'm going to sash it with a cheddar fabric that is about 15 years old, an oldie but a goodie.  I'm not sick of the Square In Square blocks yet, so I may pick out another pattern using them.  I've always wanted to make a Rolling Stone quilt, I may consult Pinterest on that.

Nephew John is moving house on Thursday, so it will be all hands on deck to get that accomplished smoothly.  He and Liz are expecting twins in May, and a bigger house is a necessity.  Mereth and I are more than willing to help with the babies, once they arrive.  It will be fun to have a photo taken of the twin babies and twin Nanas.


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