Monday, May 30, 2016

Mindless scrappering

I'm in between projects at the moment - pondering some, looking at others, and ignoring the ones I should be finishing. Which is the mental state where I go into the scrap bin and start making those little six and a half inch blocks of scraps from the scrap bucket. After doing that pretty much all weekend I am still finding it entertaining so I must be in a very scrappy mood. This is the before shot of the scrap bucket.

And this is the pile of blocks I've made - I haven't counted them but it would be about 100 I think.

And this is the after shot of the scrap bucket. Any difference? Not really. Just one little tub of left over bits of fabric (some from YEARS ago, it's quite astonishing what's down the bottom) making quilts and quilts worth of blocks. Or it would, if I could sew them all together. The floor of my sewing room is now an absolute disgrace, and my clothes are covered in threads. They fly everywhere. The rubbish bin is full too - of offcuts that are simply too small to be used. And do I still feel guilty about throwing them away? Yes.

It was a cold and foggy weekend in Canberra so we stayed pretty close to the house with occasional bursts of exercise. Number one son went for a long bike ride - I went for a short run - number two son had some friends over on Sunday afternoon that continued on into friends' parents over with wine....then dinner... a lovely way to end the weekend.



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Urble urble

I'm just burbling along at the moment - work is quiet, nothing much going on at home, weather is getting cold ... my run on the weekend was the first one in a while that hasn't involved quite a bit of suffering (I know, drama queen - I'M SUFFERING PEOPLE) but I might be on the up there too. Which makes a nice change from last week where I went out at lunchtime and ran for about two minutes because I just Could Not Be Bothered. It was a beautiful day, and there were people playing lawn bowls, and my enthusiasm for self-improvement had fled. I cannot wait for retirement.

I am so vague I forgot to go for my regular injection last week but they are quite used to vagueness on the chemo ward, so I knocked off a bit early today and went on my way home. I'm mentioning it because that was kind of the most exciting thing that happened today. We caught up with lots of different friends on the weekend, which was lovely, and I spent a bit of time sewing. But not in a productive way - just flitting between projects. A lot of making scrap blocks because my scrap tub is overflowing. Scrap blocks are awesome but I could make several thousand from that tub. If I have enough focus, which I do not, at least not today.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A new enthusiasm

Number two son has a new enthusiasm ... moving on from washi tape ... he is now into all things Korean. He bought a Korean phrase book with some of his Christmas money, and is listening to youtube videos to try and get the accent right. This is the wardrobe door in his room.

And there are random post-its on the furniture. A very sensible way of learning a language but meaningless to the rest of us. He has been telling me learned things about the script and the development of the Korean language but I don't really retain most of it.

But I did retain quite a few of the Korean steamed buns that he made on the weekend. He made a yeasted dough by hand - then rolled it into little discs, stuffed it with the sweet potato filling and steamed it. They were amazing - exactly like the ones you get in restaurants!

The filling recipe he used was just mashed sweet potato without any flavouring or anything - so that was a bit bland - but I think that you could get quite creative with the filling, and the steamed-ness was awesome. We might invest in a proper bamboo steamer, and I'd like to try the ones where you steam them then fry their bottoms for extra crispiness. Or, I'd like him to try them, and I can eat them. I do support my children's enthusiasms....

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Finishing the unfinished

Despite starting the new orangey-one, I did take the time to sew a binding down on a very old one while watching people drop like flies on Midsomer Murders. This one has been unfinished for several years - I hand appliquéd the orange peels in an attempt at re-creating something old fashioned, and started hand quilting it too. But there was something wrong with the backing fabric - it was so sticky to stitch for some reason - and I got frustrated and gave up. Here's the post I did at the time in April 2011! Over five years.

So I decided just to machine quilt it. I didn't even unpick the little bit of hand quilting that I'd done - just sewed over the top of it. And I did big feathers again - kind of in line with the orange peel pattern, but mostly not. I thought about doing something that reflected the pattern, but the appliqué was starting to come away already (yay for the quality of my hand stitching) so it was probably best to stitch over the top as much as possible.

There you have it - not perfect but done! It had been sitting on the shelf of doom for five years, so I regard it as an absolute accomplishment, no matter the quality of the work itself. I had called the backing fabric a grumpy check because it was so hard to stitch so I named the quilt "The Grumpy Czech". Boom boom.

And I did go back to Spotlight for another roll of the batting. We had book club at the National Library cafe on Sunday morning - it was such a beautiful sunny winter morning and we sat outside in the sunshine and talked about lots of things including briefly the book. There was the Million Paws Walk around the lake so we could watch all the puppies go by.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Orange and circley

I haven't finished everything up, so I shouldn't be starting any new quilts, but guess what. One just happened. I felt like circles, and I felt like orange, with some black, white and grey.

These are quite large circles - 9 inches in a 14 inch background - and pieced rather than appliquéd. It gets a bit pear shaped around the edges, but then I can trim the background square into ... well, back into a square. And it comes up quite nice, although I probably won't leave them as circles because it would be a bit boring. Not sure exactly what I'll do with them, maybe quarter them? Maybe? I do like the colours together.

Today was a beautiful crisp Canberra winter day with fog in the morning and sunshine from then on. I went for a run in the fog wearing a long sleeved top and the fog cleared while I was half way out and I roasted. Very uncomfortable, but running is endless pain, so it just added to the mix.

On the brighter side, I went to Spotlight in the afternoon because they were having a big sale and I had a spend-$100-get-$40-off coupon. And they had $350 rolls of batting reduced to $100 and I could use the coupon!! How amazing is that? 18 metres of batting for $60. I have another coupon but you can only do one a day so I might go back tomorrow, because I sure do use a lot of batting. It's a poly-cotton mix and seems perfectly fine quality. Love a bargain.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day

Yesterday was Mother's Day in Australia - I had a lovely day because we had good solid soaking rain all day, and I spent a few hours poking around the shops. I got a box of chocolates and a "Best Mum" teatowel (when the boys eventually woke up at 10.30) which suits me just fine. I don't like to make a fuss about Mother's Day for three very good reasons:

1. I'm not a bad mother, but I don't put a lot of effort in, and I don't think it's very fair to give me extra appreciation for something that - to any objective measurement - would barely rate a pass grade.

2. My mother died 15 years ago, and Mother's Day makes me sad.

3. I cannot be bothered organising the children to do anything special for Father's Day, so I keep the bar low to avoid mutual raising of expectations.

Having said that, they are very good chocolates and I am enjoying them very much. And the rain is still going today, which is even better than chocolates, it was so dry and brown. Here is a photo of our back yard on Saturday - number one son had a few friends over to film some movie they're doing. I think it might be a school project, but I'm not entirely sure. They had some good equipment and I stayed out of the way (the dog didn't, she wanted to help and I think they might have written a part for her. No-one else volunteered, that bottle on the step is fake blood, I don't think it was a romantic comedy).

And at 9 am this morning both Houses of Parliament were dissolved in preparation for the 2 July election. I've never cared about this particularly before, but it is very interesting to see from the inside. The proclamation is displayed down in the Members' Hall so I might go and have a look on my way to lunch.

Friday, May 6, 2016

A finish

I finished the red and paisley-ish snowball thing - now called "Build a raft of bamboo" because I am having a folk-music-fiesta on Spotify and that phrase gave me a week long ear worm. I have taken to wearing earbuds to listen to the music so it doesn't matter how loud I sew - I can't believe I never thought of this before. It is a bit anti-social though, and means I can't hear what else is going on in the house. Which is a good thing, but perhaps would not have made me a good mother when the boys were smaller. I am investigating bluetooth headphones so I don't accidentally cut the cord when I snip things. I have had a couple of close calls.

I like this quilt - it is kind of old-fashioned. Despite all those cool patterns I did in each snowball block you can't really see any of them. Here is a close-up and you just can't tell - I took a photo from the back to see if it was any more obvious  but not! Never mind, I know that it is a glorious tribute to free-motion quilting, even if no-one else does.

I have missed the beach all week - one of those weeks where I sit at my desk and wish that I was walking along the sand. It is really getting wintry here. Number one son had his hoody up, but I wanted to test the light levels before I took the quilt photos, so ended up with a Gandalf close up. Strange child.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Crimes of clothing

Well, Tammy quite rightly called me out about wearing pantyhose in this day and age ... I did know it was a crime of fashion. But I do it anyway. The young ones at work all wear their little suits with pencil skirts and long bare legs ending in the perfect nude stiletto - and good luck to them.  Sadly I have to wrap my varicose veins in some nylon to cushion the visual impact, and soften the pain of the cankles meeting the hush puppies. Silk purse, sow's ear etc.

But it's not the only crime of clothing I've done this week - I chopped the sleeves of a brand new wetsuit after giving up the hopeless task of finding what I wanted in the right size. I can't remember here if I've ranted about fat lady wetsuits before - they just don't exist in the shops. You might get one size 14 if you're lucky, and that's too small for me. I picked a cute one off a rack the other day and it was a size 4!!! What the hell, that's not a size, quadruple it and we might start talking. And a wetsuit is not really the kind of thing you can order on-line because sizing is everything. So when I saw this Roxy one and it fit me well, I bought it and decided just to slice the sleeves off. Yay for quilting rotary cutters and mats and rulers. No hem or other binding on it, so I just sliced.

Number two son thought the offcuts made snazzy arm warmers. He also tried them as socks, before settling on a champagne cooler. That's my boy.

And here is me trying to take a photo of a sleeve of a wetsuit without looking like an overstuffed sausage. No photoshop was used, but there was some judicious cropping. Anyway I gave it  solid ocean testing and it worked brilliantly, although I might take another inch off because it sits in the elbow crook and it might chafe if I'm in for too long.

The weather was unbelievably lovely for May and we had a great swim. Water was cold but not bitingly so and the sun was so hot it didn't matter! A wonderful weekend break that we really did need - and it helped that Canberra had its first cold snap, and we missed it. Yay! Here's me and number two son having a sunset walk before returning to the cold champagne (me) and a chocolate eclair (him).