Monday, May 27, 2013

Folding folding folding

I took advantage of a quiet hour on the weekend to fold my solid fabrics. They were all over the place from a few months of rummaging. Is "all over the place like a mad woman's shit" an Australian expression? Or in broader use? Very descriptive, if a bit misogynistic.

And because my life is nothing if not constant adventure, I took the opportunity to try a new, narrower fold. I'm not sure how practical it will be in the long term but don't they look pretty now?

There are clearly a few colours I'm better at than others. I made a lot of very ugly browns I've never used, and there might be slightly more pink than I'll ever need. I do need more yellows though, and dark blues. I can't really dye well in winter in Canberra so I'll save it up for a big fiesta when the warm weather comes back!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The old and the new

This is the old way of cleaning our dining room floor, and the new way, together in one photo. 

The old way is a leopard slug. At least I think it's a leopard slug, it seems to be about the right colour, but wikipedia says they are normally about 4 inches long. Ours isn't that big, so maybe it's not a leopard slug, although the markings look right. And certainly the behaviour description is right:

Limax maximus is a nocturnal animal which feeds at night.[8] It is inactive in its habits, not very prolific, and exudes a thick and glutinous slime which is iridescent when dried.[8] 

Our slug comes in from the garden at night, under the gap in the dining room door, and cruises around under the table. We can tell where he's been because of the dried slime trail (so pretty and shiny!) and we certainly know why he's there - number two son is a particularly messy eater - and the floor is spotless in the morning. Except for the slime. 

But despite our best efforts the slug refuses to do the rest of the lower level, so we got ourselves a robovac! Which is awesome. It trundles around vacuuming things and then goes back to its home when it's running out of charge. At least, that's the theory ... the boys and I play "where's the robovac" when we get home in the afternoons and sometimes it can take a good few minutes of searching. He's been stuck under the sofa, under the sideboard, trapped on the edge of the rug, and between the legs of a chair. One time he ran over the lead to his own charger and unplugged it, which struck us as particularly tragic. Unlike most appliance failures though, this just makes us like the robovac more. It's like having a very dumb pet that really wants to help. Endearing.

Speaking of endearing, these are gang-gang cockatoos on the branch outside the bird feeder. They talk to you with quite specific noises - when they want to be fed it's a cross between a cackle and a gurgle, and then when they see you with the food it's a happy almost-chirrup. And they bob up and down. Very gorgeous - the red one is the male.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin This is the code to claim my blog on bloglovin. I don't truly understand all of this but I use google reader which is closing down, so I am being forced to find a new reader.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Another little foray

I had a bash at fusing a quilt on the weekend - well, not really a quilt, just a little test piece. I do love Melody Johnson's fused quilts and I've always been intrigued by the technique. There is no piecing at all - you use fusible webbing to make lots of sticky-backed fabric and then you cut out shapes and iron them together in a way that makes you happy. And pull the whole thing together with dense machine quilting.

This is my first trial - it was interesting to do, and it's quite pretty in a small and shaggy way. As you can see I didn't bother with immaculate finishing (when do I ever?). It's only about six inches square and I'm not going to bind it or anything. But I am thinking of doing another exhibition entry using this style, although I'm not sure if it will work. A fun way to spend an afternoon.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A side project

Between not doing anything on my exhibition quilt (I'm a bit stumped on borders) and not doing anything on the cathedral stars (so huge! how to quilt?) I've veered off into a little side project. This quilt has a home - the sons of the friends we stayed with in Sydney have outgrown the baby quilts - and was fun and easy to do. Satisfying all round ... I am working on one for his little brother and then will send them off.

I quilted this in concentric circles in a blatant rip-off of Michelle's quilt ... except that my circles are a bit further apart and perhaps not quite so circular. Attention to detail, not so much. I will blame my walking foot guide though, which snapped off as soon as I started to use it. Just one tiny little bit of plastic went but it was the bit that kept the guide in place so made it completely useless. So I sticky-taped a bit of cardboard to my walking foot and used that instead. It wasn't exactly the same (in fact it was pretty terrible) but in theory the idea was sound, and I love marking a quilt top by drawing around a dinner plate with a frixion pen and going from there!

And on a completely different note, I was tidying up the bedroom on Saturday morning and an enormous ten-breasted turtle floated over the end of the street. No, not joking and I wasn't drunk.

This is a better picture and you can read all about this piece of public art commissioned to mark Canberra's Centenary. As you can imagine, opinion is quite sharply divided, but I like it. I don't like that it's temporary - most strange art grows on people over time - but I kind of like the oddness of it all. It has a kind of try-hard-but-still-not-cool-geekiness that just says Canberra to me.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Exhibition quilt

I normally enter one or two quilts in the Canberra Quilters annual exhibition. I don't really like doing it - I'm never as happy with my quilts when I see them surrounded by others as I am when I'm at home with them. I'm not very good at execution and in this kind of show there are some absolutely amazingly brilliant quilts that make mine look a bit amateurish. So I was undecided about whether to enter anything this year ... but I do LOVE white glove duty and getting to spend a couple of hours up close and personal with all the quilts and watching people's reactions to them. So I figured if everyone enjoys looking at them as much as I do then I need to suck it up and put something in.

I've had an idea for a quilt for ages - I knew I wanted words like last year's Work-Life Balance, and I knew I wanted yellow. I do love yellow. So I started off piecing a word and it wasn't what I was after at all. Too cutesy somehow.

So I thought a more formal stencilling process would be better. I used a mildly cursive stencil and some fabric paints.

That wasn't any good at all. Too girly. So I got an industrial-type stencil like you'd use on packing crates or something. I tried it with fabric paint.

Oh no no no. Far too messy and smeared everywhere - there is industrial-shabby and then there is just a hot mess. So I tried a fabric marker.

Perfect!! Especially next to lots of solid scraps. Now I just have to actually do the damn thing in ... mmmm .... a couple of months?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bits and pieces

Canberra really turned on the glorious weather on the weekend - warm and still and clear. I went for a walk on Saturday while my husband took the boys into town to buy me a mother's day present (chocolate!!! lots and lots of chocolate!!!! perfect) and the sky was seriously this deep and perfect blue.

I did the long walk over the hill to wander around the houses I can't afford. Strangely, I find this quite soothing, despite the fact I'm unlikely to ever be asked in as a guest, let alone own any of them. I think I just like the trees and lawns and serenity of it all.

And I think I have finally worn ALL my shoes!!! I'm not counting the ones like boots that I wear both to work sometimes and on weekends because I know I'll keep those. This exercise was just for those daft shoes that I don't need. The last two pairs were exceptionally silly. Red satin stilettos anyone?

And how about some vertiginous suede shoes (or are they bootlets?) What was I thinking.

This exercise has been good - a few pairs have gone to the salvos, and I've rediscovered some old faves. I would certainly have bought some new shoes for the wedding if I hadn't found those red velvet ones, so there you go, $100 saved right there...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Resting Heart Rate done!

I called my scrappy trip around the world "Resting Heart Rate". Mainly because I quilted it in up and down spikes and that made me think of those machines that go "beep" in hospital. Can you tell I'm not a medical professional? I've mostly seen those machines in ER or Casualty (anyone else remember Casualty? The grimmest television show ever to come out of the UK, and that's saying something) when the machines flat-line and someone has to have the paddles. Maybe I should have called it "Clear!" although that might have been a bit obscure.

I sewed down the binding at Modern Quilters on Thursday night, which was a fun meeting ... the most entertainment I've had at a Canberra Quilters meeting - the daytime meetings have a slightly senior vibe,  but the Modern Quilters not so much. I hadn't realised just how much my quilting is influenced by what's happening on the internet until no-one at the daytime meeting knew what I was talking about. I am ALL in favour of a mindless internet trend, so Thursday was a real treat to meet some others swimming in the same strange but satisfying pond.

Friday night number one son had a couple of friends over for a birthday sleepover. With cake. He's 11, hence the musk sticks. My husband didn't know what it was meant to be, but I thought it was a stroke of genius.

They slept in the lounge room, on mattresses, in front of the TV. A scary look into the teenage future.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Top done!

Here is the finished top - Cathedral Star pattern. I'm really pleased with it now, after not being at all sure about the colour choices while I was making it. And I had to use different fabric in the setting triangles and borders because I never have enough, which introduced another set of tones ... but now it is done I'm delighted. And it's huge! Big enough for the king-size bed.

Here's a close up. I haven't decided how to quilt it - a problem when I really like the tops, I don't want to stuff it up with the quilting! There are far too many seams to bother with hand quilting, which wouldn't show anyway it's so busy. So I might just reflect those up and down lines with some straight line quilting, although all over curves might be OK too.

It's winter here in Canberra now - frosty nights and cold days - but here's a photo from Sunday when we were still in Sydney. A bit brisk and windy for me, but you can't stop the boys swimming no matter what the temperature.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Back to Sydney

We had another quick weekend up in Sydney for a wedding on Saturday - our lovely friends offered to have us to stay and look after the boys while we tottered off to the event - which was wonderful and made it all logistically very easy. But it is still Sydney where driving is a nightmare and parking non-existent, so we took public transport ... although the good part of Sydney is that public transport is a ferry! We took the afternoon ferry for a short trip from Manly to Watson's Bay - across the mouth of the harbour so very bumpy. This is me waiting on the pier. And yes, we were the only people in evening dress. Note the shiny red shoes :)

The wedding was at the Naval base on the headland - right at the very harbour entrance with absolutely spectacular views back to the city and out to sea. They did the whole swords guard-of-honour thing which is always special ... and if I hadn't taken four hundred crap photos of the event I would show you how good it was. This is the best of the bunch, and it's hopeless. You will have to take my word for it - spectacular swords, lovely bride, glamorous bridesmaids and blokes in uniform.

The reception was back at the Museum of Contemporary Art at Circular Quay - amazing spot just overlooking the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Here we are at the start of the night, before the wine flowed and the dance moves happened ...

It was a very diverse group of guests -  I suppose now we're all getting a bit older you have lots of friends from varied of walks of life ... school and uni and work and all the different places you've lived and jobs you've had. The bride's family is rural - her father has been the local federal member of parliament for literally decades in one of those uniquely Australian electorates that are twice the size of Belgium but everybody knows each other. ( I just googled and his electorate is 24 times the size of Belgium, which is a surprisingly small country now I look at the maps! Maybe I should have compared it to France, although traditionally we use Belgium, I'm not sure why). Anyway my point is that we didn't know many people but managed to find lots of congenial souls to chat to, and it was so nice to frock up and go somewhere different for a change!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

So many rows

I've been sewing and sewing and sewing, but there is nothing to show for it! All my blocks are being sewn together, then into rows, and I think every single row I managed to get the setting triangles the wrong way up. Or the blocks chaining the wrong way. One time I was just about in tears thinking I had done two fewer blocks than I needed and I couldn't find them ANYWHERE ... turns out I was sitting on them. I saw them as soon as I got up. I am nearly there but no photos to show yet.

So I will fill in with .... shoes!!! We are really reaching the furthermost reaches of the wardrobe now. First up are these red velvet numbers. I like these shoes - I bought them in NZ in 2007. I was there for less than 48 hours for a conference and managed to buy four pairs of shoes. They are comfortable and sparkly so obviously cannot be disposed of.

And these are even more historical - I bought them specially for my admission to the bar in 1996!! The height of fashion then, and absolutely not so now, but still wearable. Or am I deluded? Am I turning into an old lady that wears anything as long as it's still got some wear in it? Do let me know.