Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Little red houses

Wow, I finished something, AND i blogged it promptly. Lol, definitely a first.

I started playing around with wonky houses a la Tonya sometime last year, and i loved them. Now i'm at home recovering from surgery with some time on my hands and wanting to do something non-taxing but quilty. And i didn't want to start something new when I already have plenty of half-done things, expecially since my attention span and concentration levels are even less than usual right now. So an afternoon of play-sewing later I had this top put together. I'm so proud of myself!

I plan to quilt the border in freehand baptist fans, and not sure if i'll continue that across the centre or do something more specific in the house section yet. Any ideas?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Me again.

Just reintroducing myself to my fellow bloggers. Its been a long absence, although I do still lurk, just not get around to blogging. This is my life, up and down, and in the down times I withdraw from lots of things I love, so don't take it personally lol, just the way I am.

Life-wise i've just had gallbladder surgery, which was anything but textbook :-( and i'm still recovering from. This is how i have the time and energy to re-blog (though just barely at the moment). I had a couple of bad episodes of gallbladder pain earlier in the year and so it had to happen, and i'm sure i'll feel much better for it , but not yet. On the bizarre side of life, my mother ended up having the exact same operation on the exact same day in a different hospital with different surgeon!! Crazy coincidence. Hers was textbook, i'm glad to say, and she's fine.

Life has in fact been a bit of a shit recently on the man front too, although the self-destructive not-quite relationship is finally over and now i'm at the coffee/dating stage with several well-adjusted men (i think). Lol, they make life complicated.

On the quilting front, I spent the day in Ballarat last month, a gorgeous historic rural city an hour or so from Melbourne. I visited several fantastic quilt shops there, that i'd heard a lot about but never been to, and they were so worth it, one very contemporary and the other more traditional. Had lunch at a great cafe on the main street, and then went to an antique fair. I love art deco and art nouveau style, and found a few must-have bargains.

I haven't got any pics of my current work to show, but my mother does a lot of sewing and quilting for her church, the rainbow cross is her latest piece. Pretty stunning huh?

The second one here is a christmas banner she did some years ago.

Anyway I will try to be a better blogger, and post pictures of my current works soon.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Life's ups and downs

Gosh its been a while. I may have been quiet on the blog front but my life has definitely had its share of trials recently. Had a throat infection which wouldn't go away, that took up most of October. And I was kind of seeing someone briefly, was being the operative word, sigh. Throw in a few dramas at work and a back flareup and that brings us about up to date. In amongst all that there has been no time for quilting. I did get a chance to try some sashiko, japanese stitchery, and that turned out to be great! Easy, reasonably quick, I love the chunky stitches and how it looks overall, and not hard on my back, so that's a tick in every box :-) I really enjoyed it and I think the technique is very much like Tonya's freehand quilting but with a frame, so will have to give that a try next.

This is where I'm at on my purple shoo-flys, lol. A little progress has been made since I last showed you; I sashed 2 rows, but then I ran out of pre-cut sashing strips, and ground to a halt. Even though this is Judy's September project, I'm refusing to feel guilty, I work full time and some weeks there just aren't any spare hours, but I'm plodding along. Its still a work-in-progress, not a UFO :-)

Although I've been quiet I have checked in with bloglines periodically, and followed the progress of everyone's Leaf Fall and Gratitude quilt-for-an-hour quilts - very impressive! I hope in the coming months I have more time for sewing and more time for blog participating again. Happy Thanksgiving (soon) to those of you who celebrate it :-)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Ho hum. Just more of the same

That really is it for me I'm afraid. Nothing new to report atm. Nothing major has happened, just a few of life's little episodes that take up time. I had a touch of a tummy upset for a few days, plus trying to focus diligently on getting my back into better shape (still, *grimace*).

And I'm training a new staff member at work - something different, I enjoy it (I get to talk all day and boss people around, as my sister would say). Also great opportunity to shine, as I was requested specifically by the National Training Manager to train this lady, who will be a Nurse Manager at a different venue. Great kudos. [Warning: Rant about to ensue] However my manager thinks that "training" activities happen only when you've got the trainee in front of you, and thus is v reluctant to allocate any prep time to organise notes, print stuff, write session plans etc etc. All that beforehand stuff doesn't count apparantly. My request baving been turned down, I asked her (not in these words!) if she honestly expected me to walk in on Monday having done NO prep whatsoever, was that the professional image of ---- that she wanted me to present to a new staff member and future manager?... "No of course not", did she think it was fair and reasonable that I should be expected to do it on my own unpaid time? "...well no...", so could I please have 2 measly hours to get things sorted? "... well how about an hour and see how you go." Nya, its better than nothing so I cut my losses, I was really just making a point. I'm not that fussed but it ALWAYS happens like that. I'm a nurse, so I spend my day face to face with patients. If time isn't allocated for paperwork, there are no quiet moments to squeeze it in. [End rant]

So, the purple pieced block borders are all attached and ironed, but look very much like the previous picture, just more of them. I'm going away for the weekend, and have packed some hand piecing to try - I've never done it before, and I thought the car trip might be a good time to start. We'll see. I've cut triangles for a thousand pyramids quilt in light and dark purple scraps. Pics when I get back, I promise. Hope you all have a good weekend :-)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Purple Progress

This is where I'm up to on the Hour a Day quilt. I had a bit of a sewing slump while piecing the block borders. Not the most interesting part. I'm happy with how they look but they did take a lot longer than I had expected, partly because I decided to have more blocks lol. If I was doing it again I would probably strip-piece them and settle for slightly less randomness of fabric placement. Live and learn. Almost all of my 30 blocks are at this stage. I'm laying them out 5 x 6, so it'll be quite large when finished.

Finishing something before starting the next thing is always an issue with me, but I was good this time! Even though I got a bit bored with this for a few days I didn't let myself get sidetracked, and just kept plodding on with it in short stints of sewing. Now that its visibly progressing again I'm enthused again and I'm on the home stretch!

I can't help thinking about the September 11 attacks 5 years ago, and where I was when I heard about it (this generation's version of "where were you when Kennedy was shot?" I guess) Definitely a tragic landmark event that changed our group consciousness. It occured around midnight Australian East coast time, and I was already asleep. Where I was living, we didn't get good radio/tv reception so I usually listened to the news in the car going to work. But that morning was my day off, so no news until a friend came over at lunchtime. As we were driving to lunch he said something about the attack on America and I didn't believe him, I thought he must have got it wrong or confused somehow. I'll always remember that initial feeling of absolute disbelief even though you know its real. We switched on the radio and that was all that was being talked about. The next few days that was ALL that was on tv and radio, the same images replayed over and over again.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Difference between a dog's diary and a cat's diary

Since most quilters seem to also be cat people, I thought I'd share this with you. My best friend Di, who hates both cats and quilts but loves me and thus deigns to read my blog occasionally, emailed it to me and it made me laugh. (See sweetie, you do rate a mention!)

The Differences between a Dog's Diary & a Cat's Diary

Entries in a Dog's Diary:

7 am - Oh boy! A walk! My favorite!

8 am - Oh boy! Dog food! My favorite!

9 am - Oh boy! The kids! My favorite!

Noon - Oh boy! The yard! My favorite!

2 pm - Oh boy! A car ride! My favorite!

3 pm - Oh boy! The kids! My favorite!

4 pm - Oh boy! Playing ball! My favorite!

6 pm - Oh boy! Welcome home Mom! My favorite!

7 pm - Oh boy! Welcome home Dad! My favorite!

8 pm - Oh boy! Dog food! My favorite!

9 pm - Oh boy! Tummy rubs on the couch! My favorite!

11 pm - Oh boy! Sleeping in my people's bed! My favorite!

The Dog

Entries in a cat's diary:

Day 183 of my captivity... My captors continued to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal.

The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from clawing the furniture.

Tomorrow I may eat another house plant. Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded. Must try this at the top of the stairs.

In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair. Must try this on their bed. Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body in an attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear in their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was. Hmmm, not working according to plan.

There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the food. More important, I overheard that my confinement was due to my powers of inducing "allergies." Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.

I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe snitches.

The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit.

The bird, on the other hand, has got to be an informant. She speaks with them regularly. I am certain she reports my every move. Due to her current placement in the metal container, her safety is assured.

But I can wait; it is only a matter of time.......

The Cat.

Too funny.

Besides that, we went to the pub last night with Di's boyfriend Rob and his friends, to watch the preliminary final of the football (Australian Rules). Not normally my thing but if you're in Melbourne in September you kind of have to just resign yourself to being surrounded by it. Its a cult. A great night had by all. Di works with signing deaf people, and the more she had to drink (although not admitting to be drunk) the more she automatically signed as she was speaking. It really confounded and distracted people, although I found it quite amusing because I sign a little bit too, so understood. (We met in an Auslan class many years ago.)

Nothing quilty to report. I'm still working on stuff, its just not ready for photos. Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I just found out that Ruth B McDowell, whose book I recently purchased (see this post), is presenting a 4 day workshop at next years Australasian Quilt Convention, in February. The workshop is Designing From Nature, I think. I'm so excited about it, because I love her work and her techniques, and I would love to branch out into that style of artist wallhanging-quilt, but kind of not sure where to start. And I found out with enough time to arrange time off - scheduling holidays is always a bit of a juggle when you're a nurse. I have several of her books already and I just can't speak highly enough of Ruth's quilts. The new book hasn't arrived yet but will post a pic when it does.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Stylised Santas

I saw this little wallhanging at quilt show recently. So cute! And not too hard to shamelessly copy... I mean, uhm, use as inspiration. Perhaps a candidate for some of Tonya's wonky letters. I also like that its not toooo whimsical, I like the crisp straight foundation-pieced? lines of the stylised santas. I'm not really a whimsical kind of girl.

Not so much qulting today, but I've spent hours playing with the settings of my blog and joining Bloglines. I got the idea from Leah's blog, and its definitely a brilliant timesaver. I also added a sitemeter. It all took a bit of setting up but not so hard, just fiddly. And I realised just how many blogs I do read - over 100!!! Not that many every DAY, but thats how many I check periodically, and I even found more while fiddling with Bloglines. Wow, there's some really creative people out there.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Everything's better with cheddar

This is another "not mine" quilt that I love, I saw it at a quilt show in Mount Waverley a few months back. I really love the orange/golds that have been used with the charcoal. One day I hope to make a similar quilt. Does anyone know the name of the block? I feel like I should know it but having a blank moment. I like the simple quilting too, not least because I don't think it'd be too hard to do. I'm always on the lookout for simple but interesting quilting designs. I prefer machine quilting with the walking foot, I'm not great with free-motion quilting. Just practice I suppose.

Still going on Judy's hour a day quilt, mine is purples with a cream/gold print, progress pic posted previously. I'm piecing the block borders at the moment, and hopeful that the top will be finished by the weekend. I'm just going at my own pace but the "group sew" thing has been great inspiration, and I'm excited that Judy has suggested making it a regular monthly project. I'll definitely be in that.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Not mine, but stunning.

I've been trawling through blogland finding lots to admire and be inspired by. The above pic is a quilt by Kathy York and I think its stunning, love the colours, love the variations and wonkiness of the blocks. My kind of quilt.

And in other quilty news, I bought Ruth McDowell's book Pieced Flowers on ebay. I'm so happy! Only seen it available once before (in English, anyway), but I saw her a while back on Simply Quilts, and her techniques and ideas are amazing! I've been wanting to expand a little into art quilts so this will be great.

What did we do before ebay? Lol. Was talking to a 20 year old today, I referred to something as being before computers and she got this blank look on her face and said " REALLY???!" I felt soooo old, and I'm only 32!
Guess her generation won't remember a time before computers, cds or mobile phones :-/

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I hate mysteries.

The first photo is the remnants of the one and only mystery quilt I ever did, and the reason I will never do another one. It was one of my early quilts and it seemed like an interesting idea. I had read in a magazine a great tip about doing test blocks or mystery quilts in Christmas fabrics, on the rationale that if you don't like the result or don't finish, they can be used in some form for various Christmasy things - tablerunner, orphan quilt, etc. Fabric requirements just showed the sample quilt fabrics, and suggestions for what value they should be. Unfortunately I don't think I had the value thing right, they're all pretty similar. Stupidly, but as per directions, I cut out every piece of fabric required at the start, and then began to make up various elements, having no idea how they would fit together. When the final installment was published I had about half the elements pieced, but when I saw the finished quilt design I HATED it with a passion. Not only that, but it was put together very strangely, presumably to not give away the mystery, but not at all the way I would have done it.

So I had all these elements made up, WHAT was I going to do with them all??? After sitting in my UFO pile for ages, this is the result, the best I could do with the bits already sewn and the pre-cut fabric I had left. The blocks are pretty plain so I pieced the sashing to make churn dashes when they're all joined together. I don't love it, but it will be okay as a Christmas tablecloth barely visibly underneath many platters of food. Yet to be quilted :-(

The second photo is one of a pair of table runners I made with more of the leftovers, some scrap neutrals and a bit wangling things to fit. The red/cream 4 patches in the corners of the centre block have bias edges all the way around, salvaged from some hourglass blocks. Hopefully both runners be quilted and bound by this Christmas. Actually I quite like how it turned out.

And finally, the blue and yellow quilt is the very first quilt I made, and as you can see its still not quilted. Thats the bit I don't love so much and find particularly difficult on my back. (I really must try freehand lap quilting). I will one day quilt it, to keep as a reminder of how far I've come with my quilting skills. I don't think there's too many points that matched or were not cut off on this one lol. Strangely enough, and without any thought, my twin sister's first quilt was also blue and yellow. Weird twin thing, or just following fabric trends??

I'm still working on Judy's hour a day challenge. I'm aiming for it to be 5 x 6 blocks for a decent sized bed quilt. I've also just bought fabric to make this gorgeous Lakehouse Direct gerbera quilt I saw on Karen's blog. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to make it. I checked my LQS but couldn't see the fabric so did some online searching and eventually got what I needed, estimating yardage. Then yesterday, was back at LQS, looked up high and saw several bolts of the fabrics still wrapped in plastic!! Grr. Oh well.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Now you're just showing off

No new projects, got plenty on the go as it is. This red and yellow log cabin quilt is one I started about 5 years ago. Then I hurt my back and didnt do any sewing for about 18 months, and when I started on it again I only did little bits at a time so it felt like it took FOREVER to finish - those logs are only 1/2" wide, the blocks finish at 5.5" - and all foundation pieced! Lol, I was so over foundation piecing by the time I finished it. Now, I would make the logs bigger and not worry if the logs weren't quite perfect. I'd love to try a liberated log cabin - on my neverending to-do list.

Obviously I'm not the only one who loves red :-) I heard a guest quilter on Simply Quilts (can't remember who - we get ancient re-runs here) say she treats red as a neutral, and uses it to set off other colours in her quilts. I like that idea. This one of Finn's is also on my list, probably as soon as I've finished my current few projects. Might as well get straight onto depleting all my reds.

And I thought I'd show you my progress on Tonya's letters - not that many yet, and I couldn't stick to her rule of not doing any practice ones, I did a couple of second attempts. I think they still need some fine tuning, they're a bit too straight-laced, but fun, and I have all these possibilities for word-quilts running around in my head. Nancy's latest little quilt is just gorgeous and fun, as is Tonya's.

How about my blogger learning curve huh? Now I can even insert links - yay me!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Red and green monster

Just thought you might like to see my version of Bonnie's Star Struck quilt. It started off that I wanted to trial the pattern, and I also wanted to make a Christmas quilt. But I didn't want it to be so Christmasy that you couldn't have it out at other times of the year. So I decided to use red and green but steer clear of obvious Christmas prints. The blocks are not yet sewn together, this is just a few taken out for a quick photo op.

Originally I was planning for it to be wallhanging/table topper size, but at some point I realised I had WAY more red fabric than necessary, and how many mini-quilts do I need anyway, why not just keep going and make a decent sized lap quilt. So I kept on going, chain-piecing into oblivion. And when I finally stopped cutting strips and sewing triangles I realised I have almost enough blocks to make a queen size quilt... so why not keep going? Hmmm, and so it continues to grow.

Because of this project I have been buying FQs of lots of different reds, to get that unified-scrappy look, if that makes sense. Well I have realised that while I've only been buying for a particular project (per my quilting ethos of "don't just buy it coz you love it, only buy it if you have a firm plan for it) I have sooo much red fabric that there will have to be several more red quilts in my future. Which is fine coz I really love red, and already have several ideas itching to get out.

Another thing I learnt with this quilt is that I don't mind working with cream and tan neutrals. Prior to this I was adamant I would only work with white, and only white fabrics of a certain weight, because I hate that brighter white line you get along the seams with some fabrics. But Bonnie's version of this had creams and tans in it, so I took the leap, and I'm really glad I did. I'm a bit fussy about what neutrals I will use together, and I still prefer clear bright colours, but this was another step outside the comfort zone, and thats gotta be a good thing.

Thanks everyone for the warm welcome to blogland. :-)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Finally some pictures

It took a few tries but I've finally loaded some pictures so you can see what I've been up to. The first is my experiment with wonky houses. I love the fabrics and the limited pallete, but I hadn't taken the leap to different coloured backgrounds yet, I think they need that or some other variation. Or a wonky coloured border around each block maybe. Anyway, just a test run, but I'm pretty happy with them.

The next photo is my progress on Judy's Hour a Day challenge. A few more completed blocks were on the ironing board at the time, but I'm still a bit behind everyone else. I have a dodgy back (what nurse doesn't?) so I have to limit myself to short stints of sewing and then rest or do something else, but the main thing is it HAS inspired me to commit to regularly working on a project, and not let that be an excuse to not do something I love. Thanks Judy!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Vietnam Veterans Day

Today was Vietnam Veterans Day in Australia, and the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, a major battle that the Australian forces were involved in. No-one in my family fought in Vietnam, and I was still in nappies when the war ended, but I've found in recent years this day affects me deeply. The stories of how Australian servicemen were treated - spat on, paint thrown on them, shunned and derided by older soldiers in the RSL (Returned Serviceman's League) - are heart-wrenching to this day. It makes a pretty strong impact when you see/hear confident middle-aged men brought to tears and still devastated, not just at the memory of the war they participated in, but at the memory of the scorn and lack of understanding they faced 0n their return home. On this day I honour them, and pray that their inner hurts may yet be healed. This year the government finally apologised for their treatment, but the feeling seems to be "its a few decades too late".

No quilting tonight, my back is playing up, but hopefully will be improved enough tomorrow so I can keep going on my projects. If not, I've decidedI'm gonna have a go at some free hand quilting, which I can do in a comfy armchair with a hot water bottle - I draw the line at a knee rug!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Progress on several fronts

I'm making good progress on Judy's Hour a Day project, have my HSTs all finished and pressed, and will trim them down later tonight. Will catch up on the weekend. Still no camera :-( but I'm doing them in purples with a cream print background, similar to Hanne's. I've so enjoyed seeing what others are working on. All quite different. Thanks to Judy for putting out the challenge!

My alphabet sampler with Tonya's letters is midway through, also hope to finish the top on the weekend. I haven't done much more on the wonky houses, which are in blues and reds, but our house cleaner came today and she was very impressed with them! Yay me. Its just a first go for fun, will probably end up being a small wallhanging, but I've had so much fun doing it! I feel a lot more involved with the creative process because you're constantly thinking about it and making decisions as you go, not on autopilot like when you're sewing the same block over and over to a set pattern. I love the end result of the repetitive sewing but I've really enjoyed this new way of sewing with Tonya's ideas. I really hope her book idea becomes a reality. I've found her blog very inspiring.

And my other current project, Bonnie's Star Struck, is waiting for me to get to. I've been waiting for some more red and cream fabrics to arrive in the mail, coz I'm going for that stash quilt look. Its been a productive week all in all, so I'm having an early night tonight.

Monday, August 14, 2006

So many things to try!

I have been playing around with Tonya's Wonky Houses the last few days, will post pics at some stage (when my blogger learning curve has progressed that far lol). Was just reading a few blogs before trying her free-pieced Alphabet Sampler, having made a special trip to the LQS for appropriate fabrics. Can you believe I don't have ANY white or black fabric?? Neither could I until i'd spent precious time searching.

Anyway, about to start the sampler when I see Judy has put up the directions for her Hour A Day sewing project. Its a fantastic pattern, I LOVE the prototype she made up, and I've been REALLY looking forward to giving it a go. So now I'm torn, which to start first?? Isn't that always the way with creative energy, it comes in spurts, never a steady trickle.

I am not participating in the August stash embargo, and a good thing too coz I'd be failing miserably. I have been buying reds for a version of Bonnie's Star Struck. I don't have a huge stash anyway, and what fabric I do have has mostly been bought specifically for a project, and just waiting for me to get to it. I almost never buy fabric "just for the stash" without any idea what I will do with it. Quite early in my quilting life a fellow quilter told me its an expensive way to do it, and you never end up having enough or the right thing anyway, so I've stuck with that for the most part. I don't fault those of you who do have a great stash, in fact I kind of envy the thought of having all that fabric ready for whatever inspiration strikes, but its just not how I do it.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Breaking the Ice

Well I finally got around to blogging. I read many blogs quite regularly, mostly about quilting, and was starting to feel frustrated that I couldn't post/reply etc but too intimidated to try setting up a blog. You know the feeling, "i'll press the wrong button and accidentally change a setting and then my computer will just self-destruct." Two things pushed me over the edge of apathy into action. 1) I really want to participate in Tonya (of Lazy Gal Quilting) step-by-step intro to improvisational piecing project, and 2) Judy's (of Sunshine Quilts) "sew an hour a day" project sounds perfect! and I can't wait to give it a go. But its no fun if I can't chat about it and share with others. So here I am. I look forward to getting to know you all :-)