Sunday, February 28, 2010

Second prize

I won second prize in the "contemporary patchwork" section at the show! I'm quite chuffed ... although I'm not sure there were any more than four entrants. But anyway, there you go! Here's a photo of me smiling happily (or possibly grimacing) and you can see glimpses of my quilt behind.

The show was fun, as ever - lots of judging of sheep and cattle and goats and alpacas, and dog races and sheepdog trials and camel rides and steam tractors ... and then the competitions for vegetables and fruit and chocolate cake and honey ... and then the craft hall ... even before you reach the rides and the sideshows and the show bags. I'm exhausted just writing it all, let alone doing it. At least it wasn't a million degrees today, but the time the boys and I had dragged ourselves around I was utterly knackered. And broke.

I usually enjoy the craft displays the most but this time it was really disappointing. Not the craft itself, which was varied and fascinating, but the display space. Although they used the same hall as last year, there seemed to be half as many display panels as usual and absolutely everything was crammed on top of each other. You can get an idea from the photo of the quilts above; although that was a good one compared to the poor schoolkids' quilts which barely got a square foot each before another quilt was pinned on top.

Unfortunately the overall effect was a jumble sale - there is something about lots of textiles piled together that shrieks rummage rather than the works of art most of them are. So, despite being well pleased with my certificate (and rosette! same as yours, husband!) as a visitor it was really quite horrible and depressing.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Who knew gangrene was a colour?

Well, the overdyeing didn't go so well. Far from the chestnutty browns I'd hoped for - I ended up with something that looks, frankly, diseased. I wanted to intensify the washed out purples with a big dollop of dense yellow to create something interesting in the neutrals line, but it didn't really turn out as anticipated!!! Never mind, the wonderful thing about dyeing is that there's no such thing as an un-usable colour. I've certainly used all of my disasters and uglies in the past.

Here's from another angle. Still doesn't look any better.

At least this one turned out to be quite pretty. I only overdyed it because I hadn't put enough dye in - I was aiming for a pale pastel pink - and there were ugly white patches over it. So it's gone quite a nice pinky/peachy/apricot colour.

But it hasn't deterred me - I did six 90cm x 100 cm pieces last night in yellows and greens and so far so good...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Little pink pig

Pretty much all I've been doing this week is the liberated amish quilt along. I've been having so much fun with it - just whacking stuff together and seeing what looks good; without worrying about what I'm going to use it for (hah!) and whether I have time to do it at all!

I'm quite pleased with the end result, although I'm not spectacularly comfortable using letters on quilts. I don't know why - I love how they look, and I love making them - but there is something about words that make it "unquilty" to me. Isn't that silly? I will do more letters and words. Perhaps it's just the unfamiliarity that is problematic.

So here's my little pink pig quilt. I love the colour combination, which is surprising, because I would not have expected pink and turquoise to agree.

The rest of my time has been spent with dyeing ... the ones in their bags washed out terribly. A couple were so bad I'm going to have to overdye them. For some reason I cannot make a nice rich brown - all the yellow washes away and I'm left with a very muddy purple. So I'm overdyeing those with more yellow in the hope it will stick. OK - off to Spotlight for more white cloth!!! I LOVE my Wednesdays off.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Show Quilt

Tomorrow I'm going to drop this colourful number off at the craft exhibit section of the Canberra Show. The show has a fancy formal title involving the words "royal" and possibly "agricultural" but I can't remember it at the moment. I've never exhibited there before, so it's a bit of an experiment.

I personally like this quilt a lot - it's colourful and happy and uses some of my favourite shades - but I don't think it is prizewinning, not by a long shot. The real test is seeing if anyone at work notices!!! My husband usually enters one of his scale models and says that it is quite surprising how many people visit the craft exhibitions, and read the labels, and then come up to you in the weeks afterwards. He won second prize once, so I have some show-rosette catching up to do.

This is a picture of the quilt without the flash to show the quilting. And all the other fatal lumps and bumps!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy dyeing day

Here is the most recent batch, all tucked up in their little baggies. Don't they look fresh and bright? I know it will all get washed away and made more matte but I love that glossy look while they're still damp. And in plastic.

I did some blues / yellows / greens a couple of days ago. Yes, they will be ironed. I can feel a major dyeing frenzy coming on ... oh dear.

I braved my first daytime meeting today - didn't know a soul but there were some very lovely people who were happy to chat and show me the ropes. What a delightful way to spend a morning; a room full of stitchers, sewing, reading, and chatting. I'll go again, although I might take something smaller than a queen-size to hand-quilt. Not so practical.

Most of my sewing has been the liberated amish quilt-along - my green and pink number is a finished top now. I'll just have to think about the quilting, but it probably won't be anything too elaborate because the words are quite densely pieced. Freehand fans would be great, but I've done them before. I might see if I can do something elaborate in the blank spaces .... mmmm.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Scrappy, scrappy and more scrappy

I love making scrappy quilts - lots of prints and lots of leftover fabrics. Partly for fun, but mostly because I am FRUGAL and cannot stand the thought of perfectly good quilting fabric going in the bin.

So this is a scrappy block - lovers knot? wouldn't swear to it - I made last year. The strips and squares are two inches cut so finish at one and half inches which is fairly small. The quilt itself is ginormous for reasons unknown! Because I'm an inaccurate quilter I had to do some serious trimming to make them all fit together. It looked a bit ordinary until I found the red and white dot which perked it all up beautifully. I also like the poison green paisley for the sashing cornerstones. I gave it to my parents-in-law who say they like it very much! As most people do :)
I get much of my scrappy inspiration from Bonnie - who makes such beautiful quilts, especially because her quilts show that the most unlikely combinations of fabric can work brilliantly in traditional blocks.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lazy Gal's Liberated Amish Get Together

I've signed up for this quilt together which I'm very excited about - not having done anything like this before! It's a bit of an adventure actually, saying I'm going to do something and then doing it and showing other people what I've done. If it's a disaster I'll have to admit to it publicly instead of tying the whole thing in a grocery bag and quietly dropping it in the wheelie bin!

Top marks to Tonya for organising it though - it's such a fabulous thing to do, and brings a whole additional level of enjoyment to quilting (with caveat grocery bag scenario above). I better get on with it then!

Monday, February 8, 2010

More drunkard's path

This is the next project using this template - mostly purple fabric with an occasional splash of yellow (which itself has an occasional splash of orange .... a bit of dyeing experimentation there).

I think these blocks look like the edges of planets and moons and suns from space. Probably a bit too many science fiction movies! They're going to go together reasonably randomly to create circle paths that stop and start and don't quite go anywhere. A very drunk drunkard's path - maybe I could call it "Completely smashed path" ...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Drunkard's path

I got a drunkard's path template for Christmas - nominally from my husband, although I did pick it out, and pay for it.... mmmm let's just say I gave it to myself. I'm not usually much of a template user because it seems too much like hard work. But this was a nice big 8" block that you can use easily with a rotary cutter so I thought I'd give it a go ... and this is my first quilt with it.

It was a bit of an experiment so it's not very big, about 50" square. A good size for the kids to snuggle with in the car or in front of the sofa, so I know it will get used. This picture is with the flash on, the colours are brighter in life.

I'm not too good at making sure the curves are perfectly smooth - I found I had to trim all the blocks to size because there was always a half inch or so left over. Sometimes the pie, and sometimes the edge piece, so I'm not even doing the same thing wrong every time! Oh well. Perhaps my absolute refusal to pin when quilting has something to do with it? This picture is without the flash to show the quilting a bit more.

Despite the imperfections I am quite pleased with the end result. Curves are rather fun, and there are lots of design possibilities for me to go on with, and I can only get better at the piecing - maybe? It's backed in a particularly dodgy check voile (with lurex thread through that I didn't notice until I got it home) from the bargain bin at Spotlight and machine quilted in a variety of patterns. Here's a close up of the very simple "sponge finger" pattern which I think turned out well, and I'll use it again. It looks a bit like a feather headdress? Or sunrays?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Charm square cot quilt

I'm wrapping this one up to post off to my husband's cousin and her husband who have just had their second daughter. It's definitely a girly quilt! I used a pack of Strawberry Lemonade charm squares and the plain yellow and peach are my hand-dyed fabrics. It's machine quilted and should be able to be chucked in the washing machine for a few years before it falls to bits ... I tell people who get my baby quilts to use them, machine wash them, dry them any way they want and if the quilt falls to bits I'll make them another one. But I don't know how seriously they take me, no-one's actually presented me with a tattered bundle of ex-quilt. Yet.

I finally extricated my sewing machine from the service place - they said it would take a week so after two weeks I went in to get it ... but apparently they had "put it on the wrong side of the counter" and it hadn't even been looked at yet!!! I could have throttled them, but after a bit of me glaring angrily (I don't do angry very well, it tends to be limited to glaring, and maybe sighing crossly) they pulled their finger out and did it that afternoon.

So my sewing machine is now back in my possession and I'm going to actually do something today! I have a large hand-dyed number that needs backing and pinning before I hand quilt it, and a smaller one to machine quilt. Better get on with it...

Monday, February 1, 2010

A great reason for not quilting

Is being at the beach all week. Sun, sand, surf - no work, no chores and no computer!!! And no sewing either, I've found through trial and error that no matter what I take down the beach I never end up doing it.

I did potter through second-hand bookshops though, and skerricked up some fabulous early 80s quilting books, and some textile design books. I love twenty-year old quilting books because they don't need an angle, or a new take, on quilting ... everything was new or being re-discovered and they could start with the basics. I bought one that has a very intellectual discussion of quilting - it seems to make it very difficult, I'm glad it wasn't the first one I ever saw - but it's interesting.
Over the dunes to the beach ...