Sunday, April 26, 2015

The other baby quilt

If anything, this is even simpler in design, but slightly brighter in colour. Again, gender neutral with a leaning towards yellow! And my favourite kites quilting design - very easy when you're working on a grid.

I had a left over strip from piecing the front so used it in the back. This is a bit bigger than the other one, so I couldn't find a single piece to fit the back. Because I order a yard at a time, I try and limit my baby quilts to 36" square, so I can back them with a single piece. But sometimes they end up a bit bigger.

Gosh, what else to say? More wintry weather, both here and at the beach, more holiday time doing very little, lots more cakes and biscuits baked by the boys, and lots more sewing for me. Sometimes the best things to do are the most boring things to write about...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Brick packed

My twenty yards from Hancocks of Paducah arrived on Monday - curse them and their everlasting sales, it was such a good deal even with the falling Aussie dollar - but I couldn't put it away because my shelves were in chaos. I'd pulled fabrics for a heap of projects without actually putting them back, and there was stuff strewn everywhere. So yesterday I took an hour and re-folded.

I went with a brick pack of varying fold widths. In the past I've done a four inch fold so I can fit three across, with ends up with three teetering towers and they never quite fit right. So this time I didn't try to make them fit three across, just started at the bottom and layered it up as needed. The idea is that I can see all the patterns and colours without too much trouble, pull stuff out when I need it, and put it back on the top without disrupting anything. It looks fine now ... but we shall see. The Hancocks stuff is in the bottom left there on its own - I'm still at the patting stage.

I call it brick packing because when I visited a lot of Australia Post parcel facilities about ten years ago (public service jobs! full of surprises) a lot of parcels still came bag packed - where they were shoved in a mail bag and the bags were then put in a container. Not a good use of space. But the Chinese were brick packing - not using bags, just taking the time to fit each parcel into the container, and saving enormous amounts of space, although it must have been quite labour-intensive.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A tasteful baby quilt

At least, I think it's tasteful! And hopefully gender neutral as well. It might be slightly girly, but I think little boys should have as much yellow as possible. We painted number one son's room yellow for him before he was born, and he had a few fabulous orange jumpsuits and overalls. Anyway, there are a few pregnant bellies around, so I made a diversion this week into two baby quilts - I still have to finish the binding on the other one, but I'll post photos when I do.

And the backing fabric matches, most unusually. Simple shoo fly and meandering type quilting. It was fun to do something so small, it's been a while.

The first week of the school holidays has drifted by in cold winds and rain. Lots of computer time for the boys, sewing time for me, and occasional forays to the shops. I have made half hearted suggestions towards museums and cultural amusements, but no one was very enthusiastic. We have caught up with a few friends, which has been lovely, and walking the dog seems to provide enough fresh air for us all. My main focus has been trying to keep the washing under control when the sun refuses to shine. Small problems.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pretty views and unexpected treats

I know I post photos of trees every year at this time, but Canberra is really looking pretty. This is down the lake - it doesn't do it justice, it's glorious. I love that this is basically in the CBD - about ten minutes walk from Parliament House in one direction, and twenty minutes to the main shopping centre in the other - but it looks so serene and peaceful. The autumn colours are out too, and gorgeous.

We had a lovely weekend catching up with friends over from NZ who we haven't seen for far too long. They are on a massive round the world adventure - he doesn't like long flights so they are gently hopping their way to England over a couple of weeks. Which works for us as they've stopped in Canberra. We went for a walk up our hill and showed them the view. They are from Wellington so used to hills :)

The other thing I did on the weekend was sew up eight more selvage blocks - which just about used up all my remaining strips! I was getting despondent about how long it was going to take me to accumulate enough selvages for an actual quilt and then, yesterday, an envelope stuffed full arrived completely out of the blue from Michelle in Melbourne who reads my blog!

Isn't that amazing? Thank you so much Michelle, it was a real treat, and I might actually get this finished now...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Poor Mishka

I forgot to mention the biggest thing about our Easter weekend at the beach - our dog got attacked! We were taking her for a walk on Friday afternoon and while we were walking home along our own street a malamute jumped its front fence fence and went for her. It was pretty scary - the dog was HUGE, and there was another one as well that didn't jump the fence.  The owner pulled her off straight away, and I didn't think it had caused any harm, so we kept walking and then just as we were getting home I noticed some blood on her fur and a puncture wound on her back. So we got onto the vet who could see her straight away (with a $250 call out fee for Good Friday! ouch) and she had some nasty wounds, so had to have anaesthetic and drains and sutures and a shaved back. I hadn't realised it was so bad because of her fur, but it could easily have killed her because one of the bites was really near her spine.

Anyway we called the dog rangers, who went to see the guy, who was extremely apologetic and said it had never happened before ... which everyone takes with a pinch of salt of course, but he paid up the vet's bills ($681 in the end! double ouch) and the rangers probably won't take it any further. But it is all now on record if it happens again, and they are going to make sure he raises the fence. Luckily Mish is healing nicely, and doesn't seem traumatised. When the guy came round to give us the cash she leaped all over him with a waggy tail, so perhaps not mentally scarred for life. Anyway I took this photo this morning, and you can see it's looking pretty good and healing up.

And other than that I've been sewing away on the barrister blocks and I like them - the brown is definitely quite country and muted, but not muddy. I'll wait and see how they look altogether - it will be eight by eight. Lots of brown. And I don't know if it was using two different machines, but the sizes of all the component bits were way off. So I did some trimming, and now none of the points really match.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A rainy Easter

We spent Easter down the beach, and the weather was not exactly fabulous! The forecast had said it would rain, so we came prepared with DVDs, a couple of recipe books and (for me) lots of cut up brown fabric to make barrister blocks with. Saturday we dragged the kids out in the afternoon and visited a few new beaches. Rather spectacular, in a grim and craggy kind of way.

This is just ten minutes drive up the road and I'd never been there before. We get so settled in our little nook. This particular bay is not very developed - just a few (incredibly expensive) houses tucked into the bush. Lovely. Here is number two son disappearing into some smuggler's cave. It was low tide.

Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day - number two and I went for a swim while my husband took the older one up the long beach with the new fishing rod. They failed to catch anything - my husband is getting a bit frustrated because the beach looked perfect and he found a good gutter that should be full of fish! He will keep trying though. Apparently the new rod was very good. Later on Sunday I took myself off for a long walk around the nature reserve. I was happily walking into the sun and thinking how lovely it was when I heard thunder and turned around to this!

The photo's not great but it was a massive thunderstorm coming across. I kept going on my walk and timed it so I came home at the same time as the rain. Yay for me. As I was coming around the last bit of the fishing reserve I saw this and took a photo to show my husband - a ute full of fish!!!

Can you see? The truck tray is entirely full of fish, and so is the net. I took it from a long way away because I thought they might object to me taking photos of them doing something so horrifically illegal (you're not allowed to drive on the beaches either)... but then I realised they weren't trying to hide it at all, so I think it was probably a group of people with traditional fishing rights. It certainly looked like a family event. Anyway my husband was slightly encouraged that there are fish somewhere along the South Coast, even if they are all hiding in the marine protection zone.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Not a modern quilter

I think the kaleidoscope quilt was too close to modern for my tastes, I now have a very strong urge to make something traditional. In brown. And not trendy brown; country-style thimbleberries calico homestead brown. I have made lots of dark brown and cream triangles, and then pulled out some mid-browns for the middles. I didn't think I'd have many ... but I did.

A mountain of deeply traditional mid-brown! I surprised myself because I don't remember buying any of them, although I must have. God only knows what they will look like all together, but I am finding this deeply satisfying. I think I will make a barrister's block, below, which is about as traditional as it gets, and is mostly chosen because I have never done it before, and it should lend itself nicely to scrappy. Or it might just be a big muddy mess.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A bag

I've been looking for a while in the shops for a weekend bag - I wanted something soft that would carry a little bit, or a lot, and could be squashed into a drawer between times. Not a suitcase or anything like it ... I wanted a duffel bag but I couldn't find one - far too low tech! Bags, especially camping ones, are all very fancy. So I made one.

No pockets, no lining, cotton quilting fabrics, a poorly attached zipper and strangely sized handles. The ends are circles, honestly, it's just that I have shoes in the ends and it looks deformed. I have had this birds and flowers fabric for ages but I've always thought it was too pretty to cut into small bits, so it's good it gets to go in something all of a piece.

I didn't have a pattern but really - a square and two circles - and we did something similar for my first project in Form 2 Sewing, and I hadn't forgotten how it went together. It's surprising how clearly I remember the barrel bag... I would have been 11, and I picked a bright yellow nylon raincoat fabric and dark brown petersham for the handles. Delightful, although it was better than the next project, a collarless shirt made from a cream cotton with gold lurex stripes. Yay for 1982! I vividly remember arguing with my mother about the fabric in the shop - it was quite soft and she (rightly) said it would be difficult to sew, and it was expensive and she thought I would probably stuff it up.

But I convinced her, and although I didn't do a very fabulous job with the sewing, it was good enough to wear, which I did constantly for about the next year, until I got boobs, and nothing fit anymore. And it was a damn sight nicer than the other things they made us do; an elastic waisted seersucker skirt (straight sides, knee-length, elastic at the top, truly ghastly) and the even more hideous four-gored skirt with zipper. I went for a blue floral for the gored skirt for reasons which escaped me even then, and it was godawful.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Kaleidoscope quilt finished

So I kicked the dog off and finished the binding. I think it turned out well (I picked most of the fur off. There is a LOT of fur in our house, it's kind of disgraceful).

I am pleased with the light, clear colours, I think it makes it quite pretty. I was concerned that the light prints are quite limited - there are only three or four when normally I like dozens of different ones - but it doesn't seem to matter. I called this quilt "Rambling, incoherent and content-free" ... let's just say I've been having a few conversations at work that are not quite as productive as they could be. I'm so pleased I decided to start naming my quilts - it makes them much easier to identify when you want a family member to fetch you one because you are cold on the sofa - and it gives me a little creative outlet.

Here's another photo of the quilt because I like it so much. The optical illusion of circles is not as marked in other ones I've seen in this pattern - I don't know if it's because there are so many colours, or if it's because my points don't match well enough to make the links. Probably a bit of both! Speaking of cold, Canberra has started autumn with crispy mornings and clear skies. Or they would be clear if the fire service wasn't back burning up in the hills. Smoky, but spectacular at night.

Here is a close up of the circles I quilted. I don't know if I'd do it again because it got quite tedious after a while, but it's nice to have another option up your sleeve. And it let me avoid the point at the middle of the block where all those seams meet - see how the circles go around them! I think it would have broken the needle if I'd tried to quilt through them.