Friday, October 28, 2016

Squares, squares, squares

I decided to do a border of pieced squares on the delectable mountains quilt - I thought it needed something on the same scale as the interior, but not more triangles. So squares. Which is all very simple in theory but it took me absolutely FOREVER to do a very basic border of three rows of 1 1/2" squares. And I am not at all confident in my seam matching. It looks good in the end, although probably not so much better than a plain border.

But it is done now, and I'm starting to think about the next project. Something a bit less scrappy, and a bit more modern, and not so many seams. I have preliminary-pulled a few fabrics to see - based on the blue-background poinsettia print that I've had for ages and never used. It doesn't go well with others, so I might make it the focal point and select others to go with it. Still pondering anyway - a full week of work won't allow for many new projects to start.

And this turned up to weaving class last week - a funny little toy loom but it made me laugh because we had one exactly like it when I was growing up! I had forgotten all about it until I saw that one so nicely in its box. I have no idea whether it's the same brand as ours because we had lost the box, half the bits and (crucially) the instructions ... I know my older sister once successfully wove something on it but I never quite understood how it was supposed to work. Didn't stop me trying though! Every few months I'd wind something on and fiddle around with it before ditching it back into the cupboard. Hah.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Explanations to my readers

So, this is a galah. Beautiful bird - pink and grey - but dumb. Tends to end up as roadkill, which is what the other weavers have named my scarf. Thank you ladies.

(Photo credit - Peter Fullagar)

This is a democracy sausage. A cross between a bake sale and a sausage sizzle; resulting from Australia's combination of fine weather, Saturday elections and compulsory voting. And chronic underfunding of public schooling, if you believe the parent-teacher association.

A heddle is "a looped wire or cord with an eye in the centre through which a warp yarn is passed in a loom before going through the reed to control its movement and divide the threads" - except in a rigid heddle loom it's not wire but a fixed wooden contraption. So you can only do plain weave.

And Dad, this is to konmari something. Marie Kondo is a bit crazy, but quite edifying. Frankly, I think you could adopt some of her principles, just saying. You are supposed to go through all your possessions and ask "does this spark joy?" and if not, you ditch it ...

Monday, October 24, 2016

And back to Monday

We had a quiet weekend - my husband was up in Brisbane for his mother's 75th and sister's 50th birthdays - so the boys and I mostly hung out at home. Number two son had his birthday as well (very popular month, October) and one of his presents was a ticket to Wicked currently playing at the Canberra Theatre. He is clearly too young to go alone, so I was forced to accompany him.

It was awesome! Very loud (I don't think they had the sound exactly right) but wonderful songs and a very talented cast. We had prepped up by listening to the soundtrack beforehand, and we had both read the book. I don't think it is entirely age appropriate for my son, but he wouldn't be stopped. I've never tried to censor my kids' reading, I figure if it's too old for them they will think it's boring, and I used to read all sorts of stuff from a ridiculously early age. Anyway, the musical was very enjoyable; with a full house of people who all clearly enjoyed it too.

On Sunday we went into the city to run some errands and for him to spend some of his birthday money (never takes that child very long to spend money). I was waiting for them outside some shop and noticed the knitted trees. Not sure what's going on there. They didn't look at all weatherbeaten so it must be quite recent. A bit groovy for Canberra.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Random stuff

After a few weeks of weaving a sample piece, we have moved onto our own projects in the weaving class. I am doing a scarf in galah colours - mostly grey with a bit of pink. I did this to match my new pink coat, which I think is not at all in line with the artistic inspirations of the rest of the Textile Workshop. But you have to start somewhere.

It is very pretty, and even though I'm mostly only doing plain weave, it is making some interesting patterns. I am quite taken with weaving, and I think I will buy a rigid heddle loom as an early Christmas present, and keep having fun with it. The eight-shaft table looms we use at weaving cost about $1100, which is a bit much for a hobby I may lose interest in, but I can get a rigid heddle for a lot less, even if it can't do as much. I figure if I keep weaving for a few years and really get into it I can get more complex equipment. For when I retire. In my studio. Sigh.

In the meantime I can work on my Trump colouring book that my husband got me in Washington DC. In Australia you don't have to worry about anyone thinking you are a Trump supporter, or offending anyone who may be a Trump supporter, because everyone thinks Trump is a rude, stupid and generally unpleasant man. It is one of the very few political issues everyone agrees with. The NSW State Parliament recently passed a resolution - unopposed - calling him a revolting slug unfit for public office.

The colouring book has him at various moments of world history. Some of them are very funny - the one with Gandhi is a particular favourite. This is him signing the Declaration of Independence. Must get the colour pencils out.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Triple spin

I have finished the orange quilt with circles and quilted it with orange circles. It's called "Triple Spin" which is what the dog does when she is super excited about something ... usually food. She LOVES food. She also loves my husband, so does the triple spin when he comes home from work. I sometimes get a single spin, but usually she barely acknowledges my existence. That's all right, I don't like her much either.

It turned out way more vibrant than I thought it would. That orange is a real zinger. I don't know why the photo is a bit foggy ... in real life the orange kind of leaps out at you. And the dots make your eyes go crossed. I quilted circles joined together by straight lines because it wasn't sitting entirely flat. Pieced circles can be a bit wavy when I do them, so I didn't want very ornate quilting that would highlight the lumps and bumps. This way the lumps and bumps sit quietly between the circles without having attention drawn to them.

And the dog wanted to play fetch while I was photographing the quilt. So I did - I throw the ball into the mostly jungly part of the garden and it takes her a full five minutes of rustling about trying to find it. Sometimes she meerkats up out of the foliage to see where she is, then sure as eggs is eggs, about two minutes later she's back with the damn ball dropping it at my feet.

And last week the radiation oncologist discharged me. Isn't that great? I still have to see the clinical oncologist who is feeding me the Evil Hormones of Doom for at least another five years, but it is very nice to be off someone's books. And the radiation oncologist is rather lovely and was very pleased for me ... which makes the fact that I sat in the car afterwards and cried for about fifteen minutes a little strange. I should be happy, not bawling. Anyway, I think this milestone deserves a Little Treat, but despite "accidentally" leaving my passport on the sideboard for the last six months, no tickets to Paris have been forthcoming. Not so much as a box of chocolates. I am of course capable of organising my own Little Treat ... but should it be Paris, or chocolates? Or both?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

What happened to the week?

So it's Sunday again - I do not know what has happened to the last week. We are busy at work, which is good but exhausting. And I don't know where the evenings go at all! Not that I really get evenings ... I have to go to bed at 9.30 if I want to have any chance of getting enough sleep to avoid getting stabby. I don't go well without sleep. At least the weekend was lovely ... a 7km run Saturday morning, on a beautifully sunny day, then friends over for dinner and to watch the local elections. We're in the Australian Capital Territory, which is our state and local government all in one, and the election was on Saturday. So I went and voted at the primary school - I didn't have a democracy sausage because they were just finishing up as I arrived, but number two son had been down earlier to add his meringues to the gourmet delights on offer. The Labor government got elected for a record fifth term, which is quite unusual but Canberra is very left-leaning, and the Liberals weren't looking very impressive at all, and probably shot themselves in the foot. More interestingly, here's a photo of our garden which is looking very lush, and completely overtaken by weeds.

 The highlights of the election are a new MP called Gordon Ramsay who apparently doesn't swear much at all, and an unprecedentedly high vote for the Sex Party, who have a variety of interesting policies, including bringing back the legal sale of fireworks. We have some peculiar form of proportional representation so you can number the candidates from 1 to 29 if you want to (I always want to) and I certainly rated my minor parties based on how nutty I thought they were. And let me tell you, the Sex Party are the most normal, and I am not at all surprised they had such a high vote.

We had book club this morning, which was lovely (big on chat, small on literature) and number two son made a pineapple upside down cake. It was a bit soggy in the middle but we think a ring tin would fix that. It was inspired by the new series of the Great Australian Bake Off that started on Tuesday. More baking! Just what we need.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Melbourne again

I spent Thursday and Friday last week back in Melbourne - for work this time and not much chance to have a look around, either the shops or the galleries. I went for a long walk through the CBD and down the river after work on Thursday. It was a beautiful warm evening and everyone was out and about, having a drink or wandering around. Lovely!

I was tired when I got back late on Friday, and the weekend was pretty quiet for all of us. My husband had taken the boys down the beach for the second week of the school holidays and he said neither of the boys got up before 11 any morning. And didn't do much during the day! But after the busy first week of the holidays I think that was just what they all needed. Back to school today ... so hard to get up. For all of us.

I said that I would show a picture of my cardigan drawer that I konmari'd three months ago. And here it is!!! Still neat and tidy. Rolling them up is awesome. Easy to find, don't get crumpled, and I just roll them up to put them back in. I am a very good roller of cardigans now. I would quite like to do my socks as well, but it might be a bit hard, I think my drawer is too deep. I will bend my mighty brain to this domestic problem (instead of using my powers for good) and report back.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Spring means Floriade

The weather the last couple of weeks has been unbelievably changeable - windy of course, but also rainy, sometimes hot, sometimes rainy and sometimes unbelievably cold - even snow on the hills last weekend. I am surprised by this every spring, because Canberra's weather is normally so settled and boring. And dry. But spring means one thing - Floriade! The festival of foreign flowers. We took advantage of a sunny afternoon.

Only number two son and I this time. We parked on the south side and walked over the bridge - laughing at the tourists trying to get into the actual Floriade parking. Forget it, suckers.

And there were tulips. Lots of tulips. And other flowers ... names escape me but they were very pretty. And some awesome art - hand crocheted apparently! Isn't it neat? I love the way that straight lines form such beautiful curves and funnels. There are more in the background. We made lots of jokes about scary giant spiders, then had fairy floss and donut honey puffs.

This is weird. I don't know what it is, and googling didn't help. It looks to me like a creepy unicorn skull. I thought that it was a bit grubby from being outside, but the dark bits are actually painted on, deliberately. Which makes it a giant inflatable disinterred unicorn skull. For kids to play in. That is strange, I think.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Big Scraps

I think I said that after all those dainty baby quilts I felt like something big and scrappy - so I made a big SCRAPS.

Using the crumb blocks, various backgrounds, no border, and done. Nice to make a word on a quilt that's not swearing, for a change. It is quilted in a swirl variation of fat swirl, fat swirl and thin swirl. I call it "fat fat thin swirl". It helps as I quilt away to talk to myself  "faaaaaat ... another faaaaaaat wheeee ... now little thin thin thin ... and back to faaaaaat". My internal monologue is fascinating.

I sewed the binding down watching the other footy final on Sunday night - also a great game! I think we might cancel the Foxtel sports package now though (sorry Dad). Summer just isn't as exciting.

Last Friday marked five years since the end of my cancer treatment - isn't that exciting! It's not really a significant marker, but they tend to use five-year survival rates in the statistics, so it's something to work towards. Nobody remembered but me, and to be honest all I did was go to the cupboard in the spare bedroom and throw away this bag.

Head wraps! Scarves, beanies, bandannas and sleep caps for the bald. I put some in the charity bag but mostly in the bin. Hah. And while I was up in the spare cupboard I turned it out and threw away / sent to charity a heap of other stuff as well, which always makes me feel better! I found lots of boys t-shirts that I'm going to make into a quilt one day ... another project.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Dyeing eggs

We've had a busy weekend - a birthday / housewarming long lunch at a friend's on Saturday (and watching the footy final! so close, such a good game) followed by the show finale on Saturday night. The whole run went really well with near-capacity audiences every night and good reviews. And then on Sunday we went round to a friend's place for an egg dyeing day! How cool is that? A friend of my friend is very experienced and talented and has all the gear - and generously taught us all, including number two son, who thought it sounded like his cup of tea. And it was. We had an absolute ball. Here is my finished egg.

Clearly a first effort but it looks awesome from a distance! It is not painted on - but dip dyed several times with a wax resist. So the first thing you do is mark up your egg into even sections with rubber bands and a pencil.

Then you use a little electric tool - like a dainty hot glue gun but with wax - to put wax on the bits that you want to remain white. Then dip it into egg dye for a few minutes, starting with the lightest colour first. 

The thick black lines are wax. Yes, a bit wobbly. Then away you go adding more wax and put it in another dye bath, as many times as you like. Pumpkin in my case, followed by pink, and royal blue, and lastly black. I found it really hard to try and think backwards - waxing the places that you didn't want colour. The last step is holding the egg carefully against a candle to melt the wax off. This is number two son with one of his masterpieces. You can see the dye jars on the table behind him.

This is my other one - it didn't work so well because the dyes didn't want to bond with the shell. It happens sometimes if the eggs have been washed. You can't use supermarket eggs apparently because they've been scrubbed, but even farmer's eggs (which these were) sometimes don't have the right surface and you can't tell until you try them! But I had fun with it anyway - do you like the feathers? Nothing like a quilting motif on your egg.

These are my son's eggs. He had so much fun with it. We were very pleased with our efforts but they really did pale in comparison with the experts ... with an attention to detail and a steady hand you can make something amazing. There are more pictures of the technique here and here. So much fun, to sit with friends in the sunshine and make something pretty. And there was cake! perfect.