Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another year?

The memberships for Canberra Quilters run on a calendar year, so now is the time to renew. And I just cannot decide whether to renew my membership for 2014 or not. I don't get much out of it ... but then I don't put much in either.

I first joined in 2008 or 2009 and then I could only get to the monthly evening meeting - which isn't a heap of fun. No sewing, just rows of seats in a hall, with guild business, show and tell, and sometimes a speaker. It was often interesting but very hard to get to meet anyone or have any kind of conversation. There is a supper afterwards but I am quite shy with people I don't know (and I usually go to bed at 9.30! I can stay awake past then if I have to but it tends to be a bit foggy).

When my youngest started school in 2010 I had a weekday free and went to the Wednesday morning meetings. This was much better - sitting at tables and sewing and chatting. The trouble was I could only make about half of the meetings (work, travel, sick kids) and most of the women there have known each other for many years. Everyone was friendly and polite but I never felt particularly at ease. It wasn't any better in 2011 when I was sick, and 2012 I basically gave up.

In 2013 I started going to the Modern Quilt sub group, which is a smaller group and more closely aligned to the kind of quilts that I do. I enjoyed that for a couple of times but then there was all that fuss about the exhibition quilt ... a few don't talk to me any more.

There are some things that I have really enjoyed - I like being part of the exhibition and helping with the pinning and the white gloves. I loved doing the Quilts For Others at the exhibition. I would be keen to  do more of it  but unfortunately they have their regular working bees on Tuesdays when I work, and Saturdays when the kids play sport.

And underpinning all of this is the feeling that no-one really quilts like I do - not the actual quilts themselves which are common enough - but the attitude. I put quantity before quality and randomness before precision. Near enough is always good enough. I can't see the point of following patterns. I don't understand why anyone would ever want to reproduce someone else's quilt, or why you would get your quilts professionally quilted. It seems to defeat the purpose. Basically I don't care about the end result, which makes for some odd conversations with people who do.

So, what to do? Keep going, enjoy the bits I enjoy and not worry that the rest of it is all vaguely disappointing? Or just give it a rest and come back when I don't have two small children and a job and I can get to know people and enjoy it more?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Another quilt along!

I don't know what's happening to me, this is the second time in a few weeks that I've engaged in some on-line trend. I usually avoid them like the plague, but the Penny Patch caught my eye - scrappy and straightforward. My favourite! I didn't follow the instructions though. I couldn't be arsed lining all those squares up the same way, so they just go wherever they want. And I used genuine scraps, so the colours aren't quite as glamorously co-ordinated as they could be. And I thought it was looking too pink, so put some plain cream squares in where there should be the smaller penny patch squares.

I asked number two son to hold it up for me - he protested that his arms weren't long enough, which is nonsense, so I made him do it. He kept protesting, which made number one son pull his arms into his t-shirt and crawl across the floor moaning "my arms are so short, help me, I'm a mutant with tiny little t-rex arms...". So I suggested he get up and hold it himself for a while. Which he did.

I think next time I will stick with just pegging it to the clothesline. But it will make a good toddler present for any wee girls of my acquaintance. Fun to sew and easy to quilt - I'm still going with the baptist fans although this is a modified version. I had a heap of leftover blocks because I am incapable of counting, so I put them on the back which always looks nice. And intentional! Which it wasn't.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas

Christmas was its usual quiet self in our house,with just the four of us. The weather was much cooler and very pleasant - we even had a sprinkle or two of rain in the afternoon. In the morning, presents were handed out ... I'm not sure about the hat. I don't think it's Christmas related.

Crackers were pulled at the lunch ... which was prawns and salad. The prawns featured again at dinner (hot garlic) with scallops, and rice paper rolls which were number two son's pick. He likes them and even better he likes making them, and needs minimal assistance. We had chocolate covered cherries for dessert, and some very good King Island brie for a pre-bed snack. All delicious, and no leftovers at all.

Other than that we watched our new Dr Who DVDs  - read our new books - built our new lego. One of us had a nap and did some sewing ... others went for a walk up to the trig point. A bottle or two of red sparkling wine may have also featured.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Finished my machine quilting exercise

Here is the solid colour machine quilting experiment - lots of quilting and every border different.

I'm still not sure about the colours, but the overall effect is pretty good. Some of the borders I like better than others, but that was the point.  Working up some designs that I can use again, and trying them out. I like the final border which has just a one-sided fill pattern. It would look great with both sides done, but for this quilt I wanted the effect of a gap at the end. Almost scalloped.

This is the centre square - I can see how appallingly it's done - it's so uneven! But again, the overall effect is good ... particularly when viewed from a distance.

This quilt is called "Stealing Lines from Patsy Cline" because the middle green border is hand writing - and it was the lyrics to Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits which is what I was listening to at the time. I had some scraps of poetry I was going to use but I found that I couldn't listen to the music and maintain the words in my head; so I just gave up and went with whatever phrase from the song was playing. So it is very disjointed words, but it doesn't matter because it's impossible to read! I wouldn't try and quilt letters if I wanted them to be legible - it's much harder than it looks.

My machine behaved impeccably during this process - I am getting quite fond of it after our initial hurdles. Its extraordinary speed makes such a difference to my quilting; I used to think that I moved far too quickly but now I realise it was just the machine was far too slow :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Time is racing

I cannot believe it is one week to christmas! I haven't even posted the NZ presents, so they're not going to get there in time (sorry, relatives!) and I am deeply disorganised with everything else. I think I might be in denial ... hopefully my husband has got the catering under control, and the kids' presents, because I don't even have a list yet. And I am the queen of lists.

So this is the time of year we wave off our more interesting friends to their overseas postings. Normally we welcome some back too, but not this year ... and no plans to visit anyone in 2014! How dull. So we had a farewell bbq Saturday night - the boys set the table for me.

Not quite what I had envisaged, but worked well. And those are plastic forks - which I normally try to avoid - but the dishwasher broke last Wednesday and was pronounced dead on Friday by the nice dishwasher man. We could have spent a few days researching options and deciding on the best one and comparing prices and bargaining a deal ... or we could have rung the nearest store in a panic and ordered the machine that the dishwasher man recommended in a desperate attempt to get it installed before Christmas. Don't judge.

And in other excitement - just before two dozen people arrived to sit in the back garden on Saturday we discovered a bee swarm in an upturned pot! Thousands of the little blighters, so we called Phil the bee man who came and put out a hive for them to get used to, and he'll come and get it when they've settled down a bit. He reckoned they must have been there a week because of the comb they'd started. The white stuff is comb - the brown stuff is bees. Very cool, although I did take that photo from the safety of the other side of the window. Angry, angry, bees.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A much nicer picture

Yes, Isabelle is quite right, the world does not want or need close up pictures of my bruised appendages. And it is not broken - I'm moving around quite freely and it's going into the lighter stages of violet, yellow and green. Here is a much better photo for you - a little baby quilt I just finished for a two-week old baby boy.

I needed a pattern in a hurry - I had already made a quilt for this baby but number two son took it into school for a favourite teacher who is very pregnant ... and of course he only mentioned it the day before she was due to go off on maternity leave! But I was wasting time on the internet (as usual) and I saw a few people were doing the Starburst Quiltalong. Perfect - a striking simple pattern that could easily be adapted to a smaller size. I didn't quite follow the instructions and made it with half square triangles because I thought it would be easier. Probably wasn't, but worked for me. And I quilted a sunburst for the starburst!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Goddammit toe

I managed to give the little toe I broke last year an almighty whack again as I was getting dressed yesterday morning - on a door frame of all things so I can't even say I wasn't expecting it to be there. It's been there for the seven years I've lived in this house. I was running late for work so ignored it ... and my work yesterday was in Sydney so car (walk walk walk) plane (walk walk walk) train (walk walk walk) office ... and then do it all again  in reverse at the end of the day. I got home and took my shoe off and my toe was this really hideous dark purple colour.

Large enough close up of my feet? I think I may have re-broken it but I'm not going to see a doctor unless it gets worse .. the last thing I need at this time of year is crutches and be told to sit down for two weeks! And if I'd known I was going to injure myself I wouldn't have gone the navy blue polish. Bit grim.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Oh no, swimwear

Does anyone ever go "yay!!! swimwear!!!" I don't think I ever did, even when I wasn't fat and middle aged. It's all so traumatic ... and don't get me started on mastectomy swimwear, apparently boobless women are all 95 years old and completely without taste (although fortunately they do make them up to quite enormous sizes). But I have reached an accommodation with swimwear because I love the water.  And I have realised that it is OK to cover up, and it means you don't have to suncream the vast pale acres of thigh and upper arm, saving both time and money :)

The only problem is the limited options in my size - very boring, mostly plain colours, and ridiculously expensive. When I was in NZ at the beginning of last year I bought a wonderful blue swim top with flowers all over it - but it is starting to perish. My swim tops have a hard life and tend to die young. The photo was at Waterbom at Jakarta last year - such a cool waterpark, and such a fun holiday ... I look like I'm drowning number two son but he was fine, really.

So, last week I ordered some swimwear lycra on-line, drafted a pattern off the flowery top and made myself another three ... didn't bother neatening the seams or doing anything fancy. The neckbands on all three have that dodgy home-made look where they stick up rather than sitting flat ... but I don't care. I thought I would get better by the third one but if anything they were getting worse!

But for $10 worth of fabric and a half-hour sewing time I think they will do absolutely fine. I haven't actually worn them in the surf yet but I will report back any instances of split seams or bizarre sagging. I think the hibiscus print is my favourite but I also did an abstract number.

And some other flowers. Do you like my hand-on-hip photo stance? My NZ nieces are at the age where they dress up in little frocks and go out and get photographed at bars, that then go on the bar's facebook page ... yes, I know, very strange. I'm glad no-one was photographing me when I was out on the town (back in the Jurassic). Anyway, the hand on the hip thing slims your waist! A bit. Apparently. Maybe they can teach me to do a convincing duckface.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fa la la la la

We put the Christmas tree up this week - I make them wait until December. Worst mother in the WORLD ... they tell me that other kids' christmas trees go up in November. I refuse to believe this. Our tree was looking a bit the worse for wear so in the sales last year I scored a nine-foot tree for 90% off! I love a bargain. We could probably go another six feet of tree; I'll keep an eye on the sales. But that would be a rather large tree, I'm not holding my breath.

We don't do colour co-ordination, or themes, or make any concessions to taste or style.

We don't require our ornaments to be actual Christmas tree ornaments. This is a small stuffed camel we bought on our honeymoon in Rajasthan.

In fact we don't require any connection with Christmas at all. As well as the little pink pig, we have a cupcake, a home-made golden snitch and a dalek.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A whole week

It's been a whole week since I last blogged, which is much longer than usual and I can't even blame my flu thing because it has all well and truly gone. Thank goodness. I'm still plugging away on my machine quilting exercise but I ran out of thread (it uses a LOT of thread) so I got distracted and started something else and I haven't quite finished that yet and .... you know how it goes.

And of course we have been doing this!!

Still not exactly tropical down the South Coast - one son plunged in with boogie board and spent half an hour in the water but the other son took a quick squealing dip before settling to making sandcastles. I went in up to my waist before retreating and my husband didn't get above his knees! But the weather was beautiful and it's always nice to be by the sea.

We bought some new dining chairs (we now have four! So we can all eat together) and scoped out a clothesline but mostly read books, watched movies and blobbed about. Not bad for a short weekend getaway.