Sunday, June 28, 2015

The solid scraps

I've started to turn my hundred foot-square solid scrap blocks into a quilt - and it's going to be enormous, even though I'm only using 81 of them. Nine feet by nine feet, or about 270 cm square, which is larger than I normally do them. Because of this, I thought it might be time to re-visit the quilt-as-you-go method, which would mean I could quilt the smaller individual pieces before joining. Or even not quilt them at all, just rely on the joining seams every twelve inches to hold the things together.

I hadn't forgotten how hideous the moth in the window experience was, and how badly that ended up. But I thought if I took a little more care with the joining I wouldn't get such a bad level of distortion. And, because you can't tell where a scrappy block stops or finishes, I could trim it square if needed. So I joined a measly six squares together.

It looks fine from the front, but the back is an absolute mess of bunched and unhappy fabric, where I had to shuffle and pull and squeeze. And trim, my god did I have to trim. Even over six blocks I ended up trimming more than two inches off one side to keep it square enough to add the next round. What on earth? Why is this so bad? I even used pins for chrissake. And as I did it I could feel my irritation rising, and swearing began, and everything that I so disliked about that dreadful moth quilt came rushing back and I just thought - no, no way, we're not doing this. So I stopped at six and will piece the 81 other blocks together in the normal way and just deal with its enormousness somehow.

On a brighter note, number two son got his school report on Friday, so thought he deserved churros like we did last year. Because apparently, once is enough for it to be a tradition. I refused, on the basis that it was $7 for a hot chocolate drink that no-one could finish not to mention the actual $11 churros, so he asked if he could make them and I couldn't think of a reason why not.

Choux pastry which he did without supervision, and then some assistance with the deep frying, but he whipped up the chocolate sauce without any help. And they were absolutely delicious. Not a health food but perfect for a very cold and foggy winter weekend.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Termination Shock

I have finished my quarter square solids - the one inspired by Molli Sparkles' Mood Ring - and here it is. All fabric that I dyed myself, even the reds, which took years of trial and error; for me a good proper red was the most difficult colour to do.

Because the colours were so fiery it made me think of sunburn and flames and solar things, so I quilted it in wobbly sunrays, and called it "Termination Shock". Which is the shock that occurs when the solar winds fall to subsonic speeds, so kind of suitable - or at least as suitable as any other name I could think of. It could also be the feeling of surprise when you're fired from a job, or killed by a liquid metal robot from the future. 

Other than that I am recovered from my cold, and my Wednesday was quite productive. I managed a 15 minute run, although very slowly, so I'll get back into it properly on the weekend. And I went to Costco which is always a guilty pleasure of vast quantities of things I'm sure we need, and various other errands. All very boring, but it was still nice to be up and about again. And here's another photo of the new quilt, because I like it. These colours below are probably the most true to life, the other photos are a bit greenish.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Out for the count

My not-at-work Wednesday got off to a good start when the plumber came and installed a new toilet in the laundry - I know that doesn't sound very exciting but the one we had was not only old and grotty but didn't seal properly, so kept losing water, at vast expense. So now we have a shiny  new one that doesn't leak! Winner. After that I put on my running gear and was just leaving the house when the school rang - number two son was down with a cold, and the asthma he always gets with it. The school nurse had gone to give him his puffer and discovered it expired in 2012, so I felt like a very bad mother indeed.

I picked him up and brought him home, but I must have been feeling guilty because when he said he felt like sushi for lunch I went to the three nearest supermarkets to find it - none of which carry sushi in winter! Apparently it doesn't sell quick enough in cooler weather. And I wasn't prepared to go any further to an actual sushi shop so he missed out, but I think even looking was enough overindulgence for one day.

And then about dinner time on Wednesday I started feeling a bit off, with a sore throat, and woke up in the night with a temperature, and runny nose, and spent Thursday through Saturday moving from bed to sofa and back to bed unable to do anything. Number two son picked up a bit on Thursday and went back to school, but it's taken me until today (Sunday) to really feel like moving again. Just a cold but still miserable with the sinus and the throat and the headache and the blah blah blah.

I picked up my knitting again last night though, watching TV, so clearly on the up. After I got bored with the dishcloths I started on a scarf - a simple garter and drop stitch out of fluffy alpaca / wool that shades through different greys. I thought it would shade quicker, but it's so hard to tell when it's in the ball. The lighter grey is prettier than the darker grey. And that is all the handicrafts I could manage this week - and no washing, cooking, or even leaving the house. I haven't even been to the mailbox... so much for my run! I will have another attempt next Wednesday but I'm not promising anything. I am still working my way through the 5 - 10 km app, but after the last few days I might have to go back a session or two and repeat them to get some puff back. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Suitable for Many Domestic Uses

Introducing the orange quilt - now called "Suitable for Many Domestic Uses". Because it is a utility item I think, rather than a show quilt (goodness no!) or a forward-thinking piece of art. It is more cheerful than it should be, considering how glum I was when I put it together.

My apologies for the poor photo - it is bucketing down today! And it was raining yesterday too, which is wonderful after a long dry patch. I think we had half of Canberra's average June rainfall yesterday, and it looks like we're getting the other half today. Mind you, Canberra's average rainfall any month is three-fifths of bugger all (I just looked it up, the mean is 37.9 mm, which is not very much). So I had to take the quilt photo with number one son holding it up and he can do a 70 inch quilt now! So big and tall and strong ... although he was whinging that his arms hurt by the end of it. Toughen up son, this is why I had you.

All the on-point blocks made this quilt a bit of a disaster in terms of flatness. The light cream setting triangles of the main blocks all have bias edges because I couldn't be bothered cutting proper triangles and just used strips, then trimmed them off. Much easier to sew but much riskier for proper sizing. I was originally going to quilt straight lines about six inches apart, which is my default when I can't really be bothered, but I got about half way down the first line and it was pulling and distorting really badly. And unfortunately it was very obvious that the squares were no longer on a horizontal line, so I had to unpick that quilting and try something else.

I am pleased with this design - I chose something that had no connection whatever with itself if that makes sense. The cream circles are all done in a continuous line, but there's no quilting on the four-patches so they can bubble up and take up the slack to their heart's content. And then the circles on the orange sashing are connected to each other but not the cream quilting, so again there is heaps of space for bubbles and bouffants and waves and all those other things you must Never Do Ever. And it looks quite cool.

Speaking of things you must never do, the backing is a very cheap and dodgy duvet cover from Spotlight - I think it was $15 for a king size which is ludicrous, and the quality of the fabric is appalling. But it's appalling in the lightweight / open weave cotton way (rather than the dense horrible polyester way), I can get two backings out of it, and I've done this before and they wash perfectly well (at least so far...)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Another one quilted

I don't think I showed this one in progress at any stage - probably because I don't really like it and it wasn't fun to make! This is part of my series see-something-pretty-on-the-internet-and-have-to-make-it-straight-away.

I have quilted it and attached the binding, but it just needs to be sewn down. I'll post proper photos when it's finished and I've taken the pins out (and the dog hair). The inspiration was this antique quilt on Meredith England's blog, which she felt the urge to reproduce, and so did I. I got a bit fed up halfway through though, and didn't do the proper half blocks. The four patches were fun to make, but setting them all on point is a bit tedious, and then having to set those blocks on point ... I found it all a bit dreary. And I meant to get a vintage-looking dusky orangey-pink for the sashing and actually got a  bright orange. Fanta orange. Which changed the whole look, and not for the better. 

I still have a couple of quilts I need to quilt but in the nanosecond that I had the piecing foot / plate on the machine to make and attach the binding, I may have become a little distracted by the huge pile of scrap blocks I have, and started doing some more piecing. I was thinking about quilts I really enjoyed making (as opposed to this orange thing) and I loved Twirly Shirley and Kinky Renee - solids with scraps. So I got out the Tula Pink 100 Modern Quilt Blocks book (again) and only made it to page 9 before finding the perfect chunky cross to mix my scraps with some green. Yes, green this time. Kermit green. I'm loving it so far...

Monday, June 8, 2015

Frosty freezingness

Last week was bloody freezing - minus 7 or 8 most nights and not getting back over zero until ten in the morning! I have about a fifteen minute walk from my car to the office, which is normally fine, but not when it's still minus four degrees. I took this photo on my walk in but I don't think it is showing the icy reality, it looks quite pleasant. It wasn't!

So we thought we would go down the coast for the long weekend and warm up a bit. We stopped at Braidwood for a long morning tea - I fed the boys finger buns and soft drinks so I could go to the church book fair (they know a captive Canberra crowd when they see them driving down the main street, like lemmings to the sea) ... which was a good idea in terms of browsing undisturbed but not a good idea in terms of number two son barfing it all up half an hour later. Fortunately he made the dog's seat cover (old sheet) into a neat little barf bag, and I'm afraid I bundled that sucker up and put it in the bin as soon as we arrived. I still feel guilty about sending a perfectly good (old) sheet to landfill and not washing it. But not guilty enough to deal with lots of vomited up finger bun, especially with cinnamon icing. I don't think I will ever be an eco-warrior (the boys had disposable nappies too. I gave $100 to Greenpeace per child and called it square).

Once we got there though we had a lovely time. Movies, pyjamas until lunchtime, books, walks and number one son even re-tuned the TV so we had actual channels! I spent my entire two days last time trying to do it, and failing, and he reckoned he just did it. I'm going to blame the antenna, because what he did sounded EXACTLY like what I did, just with a better result. 

We wandered down the boat ramp late one afternoon to watch the people paddle boarding, gutting fish, having a beer and watching other people gut fish, and to say hello to the big friendly pelican and the enormous stingrays. Seriously, google Mossy Point stingrays, they are a tradition, and enough to put you off paddling .... if the fish guts hadn't already.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Barristers block in brown is done

All done! It took longer to quilt than I thought - my overall pattern (that I learned from the free motion Craftsy classes I've been doing) was denser than I had anticipated. I scaled it up massively, but even so there's no more than an inch or two between most of the quilting lines. I like the pattern and will use it again; curves and movement without being too difficult. At least, not too difficult once I got the cursed machine to co-operate.

I called it "Crazy Aunt Sue's Classic Fudge Recipe" because of the brown-ness. I don't have an Aunt Sue, so no actual relatives were insulted in the naming of this quilt.

It is so different from all the modern quilts I saw on the weekend. I loved them, but I really like this one as well. When I was putting the blocks together my favourite bits where where the dark brown met the lightest white on cream - so I did that for the border. With the pretty mid-cream calico as well. How terribly traditional!

And of course the dog likes it too. She's not as quick as the cat for plonking herself down in the middle of a quilt, but once she finds it she's much harder to move. And sheds like crazy ... although she had her first professional grooming on the weekend so is now super fluffy and very clean. When I came back from Kiama number two son greeted me with "Mum! Mum! All of Mishka's arse hairs are pointing the same way!". Which I'm kind of pleased about - better than all pointing different ways - but I am not sure this child is being properly raised.