Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ruminating, like a cow

In a comment to my last post, Isabelle asked how I found time to work, look after a house, and do all this quilting. Isn't that lovely? It made my day, because I think I am underachieving and lazy. I spend an enormous amount of time doing bugger all (as we say in Australia) or wasting time on the internet or wandering around shopping malls looking at pretty shiny things and having coffee. I only work three days a week, I only have two children who are at school most of the time, and the house .... well, let me tell you about the house. The house is superficially in order (thank you fortnightly cleaning lady) and deep down a screaming disaster. Linen cupboard seriously needs a turn out.

This is the bottom of number one son's wardrobe - although if there is a power on earth that can keep the room of a ten-year old boy tidy I would like to know about it. So I don't feel too slovenly about that one.

This drawer however, it's THE DRAWER, everyone has one, crap goes in it - this is my problem. Although looking at it closer, most of this litter is my husband's. Mmmmmm....

Most shameful of all, this is the vegie patch! Don't look Dad (he built them for us, and we have a lot of successes in summer, but we are always less motivated to do a winter crop). This is the worst bed, the others are a bit better, but this is just plain slack.

So I spend most of my days mentally marking myself as "could try harder". Why do we do this? You'd think I would be more relaxed after last year's cancer and Brush With Mortality but I think it's made it worse. That made me realise that, actually, my life won't really amount to much on any kind of scale - my scratch on the granite face of the universe is shallow and will be overwritten by many others within a few short decades after my death. Which, strangely, makes me cross that I don't have perfect cupboards.

This is when my brain started hurting, so I asked Zelda the World's Fattest Cat my philosophical questions. She said the only important things are heat and food, and could I please turn the heater on and feed her.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Next one up

The next one on the line to be hand-quilted is this medallion - I put another border of flying geese and thought that was enough. I like the slightly not-matching colours on this one - the yellow and red are strangely appealing to my eye.

I did a bit of big-stitch on it last night when I was watching Project Runway Allstars (I like to sew when I watch Project Runway, it makes me feel connected) but then picked it all out. It didn't look right, and I couldn't think of anything better to do, so I put it to one side. Zelda (the fattest cat in the world) went and sat on it for a while, so that should sort it out.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wonky nine-patch

I finished my wonky nine-patch! Here is the obligatory clothesline photo ... I must get into some serious quilt photography. I'm sure my things would look much better properly prepped, lit and airbrushed ... actually I would probably look much better properly airbrushed. Perhaps I can start with the quilts and work my way towards humans.

Here's a close-up of the big stitch which I had much fun with. I did heaps of it while we were watching "Hugo" on DVD - what a lovely movie. I thought it might be too slow for the boys but they sat all the way through. We took them actually out to the cinema last weekend to see "The Avengers" which was silly and explosive and loud. I think it is the very first time all four of us have been to see a movie together; and it wasn't really my cup of tea (or number two son's either, he's still a bit little for lots of scary explosions). But it's another milestone - like the first time we actually had dinner in a restaurant as [reasonably] civilised humans. 

I've been making some more dresden plate blocks. Number one son took the last green and yellow and grey dresden plate quilt for his teacher, who has just had a little baby (well, his wife did, but you know) so I thought that gave me a justification to make another one! I made the plates smaller and the centre circle a bit bigger, which gives it quite a different look. I'm only doing four blocks, just another baby quilt I think.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Boys will be boys

Oh look! I said. The boys have sat the teddy bear up at my seat at the table. Isn't that cute? They're still my adorable little babies at heart.

 Then I lifted the bear up to move it. Oh, yes, HILARIOUS there is nothing funnier than PLASTIC POOP.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Never met a potato chip I didn't like ...

...until now that is. This is something called a potato chip quilt - I think it's made the same way as those jelly roll race quilts. Basically you sew heaps of strips together end to end until you have one really long strip (this was about 25 metres), then you sew it together along the long edge - cutting it when you reach the end. Then you sew that strip together along its long edge, and again and again and again, halving the length but doubling the width each time, until you reach something that's kind of squarish possibly. I used a selection from the 1 1/2" strip bag, with some green squares for some coherence, and ended up with this.

Which is pretty damn hideous. I realised I would never be bothered bordering and batting and quilting and binding it, so I was about to chuck it in the bin when I thought - cushion cover! I had a very mangy orange cushion in the family room, so I covered it, it took ten minutes (didn't bother with a zipper or anything, when it gets too dirty I'll chuck it out) and there you go ... a cushion cover.

The family room (and the cushions) turned into the Island of Sodor last weekend - we had friends stay with a younger boy - so that was a great excuse to get the Thomas the Tank Engine set back out! My boys are officially too old to play with it (according to them) but if someone a bit younger is interested, then they'll allow themselves to become engaged, after a suitable period of reluctance :) We all had fun.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Still liberated

Although this doesn't really look that liberated, but I guess liberation is a state of mind, and not so much of a design actuality. I am rolling with the concept of a liberated medallion here - where you start with a middle, and then add bits. I already had the yellow middle block (crown of thorns? something like that) from when I was thinking about doing a yellow quilt, before I realised I could not restrict myself to a single colour. At least not happily.

And then added the other borders, and it may need at least one more.... It is fun and I am enjoying doing it! No reason, no plan, just whacking it all together.

I completely LOVE my new ironing station - and just having those four extra boxes has given me somewhere to poke all the crap that was on the floor, and the whole room is better. The cleaner was even able to vacuum in there yesterday for the first time this year (normally I just close the door and mumble "it's better not to look"), and the room just glows. Will it last? Hell no.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sometimes I amaze myself

This is how my sewing and ironing was set up yesterday - a bit messy obviously - but also not working real well. The ironing board took up a lot of space in my tiny sewing room, and I didn't need that much ironing surface.

So I went to Bunnings yesterday morning, which was packed full of happy people at the start of a long weekend, buying things for their project. It had a lovely vibe, quite different from the Monday when they're back there buying things that they didn't realised their project needed and everything is going horribly wrong ... and I found what I needed, and someone to help me, and the other things that I needed, and it was all perfect! How often does that happen?

Then I built this little flat pack unit (with a lot of help from my husband, who only said "are you READING the instructions?" once, in exasperation), then made an ironing board to sit on top of it, with a sheet of melamine, some wool wadding and a staple gun! I bought a staple gun specially from Bunnings, I've never had one before. It is SO COOL. I'm looking around for things to staple today (cat looks nervous...)

And now I have a storage unit with an ironing station on top, and it all worked, and it only took a couple of hours, and I am so impressed with myself, even though on the scale of handyness it doesn't really rate. And I've been looking for a way to use this fabric for ages - I love it but I thought it would lose its impact being cut up. So now I get to look at it every day! Until it goes all manky and burnt, but then I can replace it ... using my staple gun!!! The fun never stops.

Friday, June 8, 2012


When I finished Tracks I wasn't quite sure what to do next … normally I have so many projects in my head that picking one is the least of my worries. But this time I stalled a bit. So I did what I usually do when I stall - pick up Gwen Marston! In this case, Liberated Quiltmaking II. And I made a wonky nine-patch.

I find Gwen Marson's books unfailingly inspirational. I think it might be because it covers such a range of styles - you can be very painterly in solids, or modern with bold prints, or traditional with civil war prints, or all of them together. I like that she hand quilts much of her stuff. I also like that it's about the right fabric, or the most interesting fabric - not about matching fabric or fabric lines. The text always gives you permission to try out what you think should work, and then be comfortable with the result.

I think the check and the border print are from the same line of fabrics because they go so beautifully together. The colours are exact. I cut the selvedges off before I could check though, so we'll probably never know! I bought them separately, so it must just be a happy co-incidence. I'm going to big stitch this one as well, it's fun.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The tie-dyed shirt

I've been meaning for ages to show a photo of the tie-dyed t-shirts in action - here is number two son wearing his hippie extravaganza to a birthday party a couple of weeks ago. It's his favourite party shirt now apparently! Fortunately this birthday party was ten-pin bowling and his shirt is quite restrained and tasteful compared to the carpet. And by the time you get twenty sugared-up eight year olds together a bit of garish tie-dye is the least of your problems.

I made it back from Fiji with no problems - not that I was expecting any, but travel is always a bit of a lottery. The biggest drama was the plane forgot to pick up milk (happens to us all!) so tea and coffee was black or not at all. I heaved a sigh and settled for beer. They had plenty of that. It has rained non-stop since I got back Friday night. Footy yesterday morning was a bit damp but otherwise it has been quite a treat just to potter round the house with nothing much to do. Unfortunately I still seem to be on Fiji time (two hours ahead) and I've woken up at 5.30 both mornings which is COMPLETELY untenable. It makes me cranky (which makes everyone cranky too, because I like to share my misery around) and I hope it wears off soon. Grumpy face.