Tuesday, 28 July 2015

long ago and far away…

Actually, it wasn’t that long ago – only last month – and in terms of the whole world, not that far away – about 600km or 375 miles --

WM, Mum, MIL and I had a holiday/vacation in the seaside town of Woolgoolga on the north coast of New South Wales. We rented a three-bedroom house, facing north, overlooking the bay. For those of you who live in the northern hemisphere, this is the sun-catching direction. We had a 180° view of water. We were low enough to the ground and on the hill to be out of the cold, southerly sea breezes (and howling winds for one day). All in all, glorious scenery, almost perfect weather, and fabulous views.

You can see details of the house we rented here on Stayz. The photos are true to reality – the views, the house and the interior looked exactly like that (except the shower curtain in the bathroom had been replaced by a glass shower screen).

We woke early on the first morning, which happened to be WM’s birthday – we saw sunrise (it’s winter here so that was about 7am) and I saw my first whale of the season before 7am! From the front deck – without making the trek up to the whale watching headland and standing in the bitterly cold southerly winds.

We spent the days with DD, and the evenings with DD, SIL, and the two Grandsons. We celebrated WM’s birthday one Friday and Younger Grandson’s fourth birthday a week later. We watched whales migrating to the warmer waters of northern Australia for the winter from the deck and sometimes from the sun room. Older Grandson saw his first whale breech – what a great experience for a five year old! WM tried to take photos but mostly all he took were snaps of splashes – the movement had passed by the time he pressed the button! We had some lovely unexpected visitors and saw beautiful sunrises and sunsets – neither of which we can see from our home (due to other buildings and the mountain immediately to our west -- we live on the eastern slope).

Best of all, Older Grandson almost got the hang of knitting while Younger Grandson enjoyed trying and playing with yarn and needles (as it should be).

I won’t bore you with more words – please enjoy the photos taken from the first two days collection!
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Thursday, 23 July 2015

there is work in progress

At Easter, DD and the family came to visit – it was so good to be able to spend time with them again; especially since DD and I got to spend some time together in the sewing room. Older Grandson helped to sort scraps and it wasn't long until he wanted to sew too. He loved sitting on my lap and feeding fabric in to the machine that was running on the slowest speed possible. At the end of the weekend, we had nineteen scrappy quarter-log cabin blocks of varying sizes made (they weren’t square and ranged in size from 9” to 11.5”). Unfortunately, I didn’t thing to take photos of the blocks that we made but I do have some photos of Older Grandson hard at work!
 2015-04-03 Ben sews on machine 2 2015-04-03 Ben sews on the machine 2015-04-03 Ben irons

In May, it was announced at our quilting group that there was going to be a log cabin challenge for all of us to use up scraps! Seems like I was already ahead of the game! LOL

I searched the internet for inspiration – I had absolutely no idea how to put those blocks together given their different sizes and shapes. But sometimes, I just have to be patient and let ideas percolate. In the end I decided to go with a wonky setting but I still had no idea how to go about it. I started looking at tutorials, but all the ones I found were for making sashing on all four sides of he block. I wanted to add sashing on only two sides. In the end, I found my own away to do it – the wider you cut the sashing and the more fabric you are prepared to ‘waste’, the better this works. Again, it didn’t occur to me to take photos of my work in progress – you can see how out of the habit of preparing for blog posts I have become!

Armed with twenty blocks (I made the extra one), I headed to class at my LQS. They have a design wall – I do not! My teacher, who loves traditional patterns and Civil War fabrics, is quite bemused by me sometimes, I think! Here I was with a totally radical modern approach to quilt blocks and I hadn’t even consulted a pattern! I did take a photo of my layout on the design wall but have since deleted in from my iPad – because I’ve finished the quilt top. Here it is for your enjoyment:
 finished front

I have also finished the backing.
finished back

The fabric used for the sashing and the backing is Saffron Craig’s Ginkgo Blossoms (c.2009). I used about three and half metres to make this quilt which will finish at 52” x 64” and is made up of twenty 12” blocks plus extra sashing down one side and across the bottom.
This one is basted and in the process of being quilted.

While I was on a roll, I made the backing for another quilt which I had finished in October last year.
on design wall

It is made from ‘Disappearing Nine Patch’ blocks with one modification – I made the neutral pieces of the nine patch smaller than the coloured parts; thus giving a thinner sashing than would otherwise be seen.
ready to cut and disappear

Here is the finished backing, containing my signature panel. the blue sashing gives a completely different look to the neutrals on the front! I have laid the blocks differently too – to form a type of ladder. The backing fabric is a small yellow check, not the solid it appears in the larger photo.
 finished back backing fabric
My sewing time is taken up with quilting the Wonky Log Cabin quilt; then I’ll get to the Scrappy Disappearing Nine Patch.

In the meantime, my knitting time is spent trying to catch up with my mum who is powering ahead knitting blanket strips. Come back for my next post and see another of her knitted blankets that I have finished.

I'm linking this post with WiP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced blog. Why not pop over and see what other crafters are up to?

May your stitches bring you much joy.
Lynne

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Violet & Friends and the Scrappy Churn Dash

No, it’s not the name of a new children's book or television program. The title is a combination of two of my finished quilts: “Violet & Friends” and “Scrappy Churn Dash” (see what a difference punctuation makes! LOL)

Violet and Friends was begun in 2011 when I first joined the Rainbow Scrap Challenge over at SoScrappy blog. It continued in 2012 as I made more blocks. Finally I had enough six-inch crumb blocks to make a quilt top in violet, orange, pink, yellow, teal and green. I shared a picture of the finished top and the backing panel (it’s my signature to use panels on the back of my quilts) in a post in February last year – obviously I can’t rush into finishing! LOL

This year, I seem to have caught some kind of ‘finishing bug’; instead of starting new projects (so easy to do), I’ve been finishing old ones. Perhaps having mum here is a reminder than one day I may not be able to quilt (or knit) – and I wouldn't want DD to inherit lots of unfinished projects. I inherited three knitting projects of mum’s – one I’ve ripped and re-purposed the yarn (into part of one of mum’s blankets); the other two I’m thinking I’ll turn into one blanket instead of the two that were originally intended.

At Easter, I chose a fabric for the backing and hey presto! A week later, Violet and Friends was finished: quilted, bound and labelled!
 finished quilt front  finished quilt back
The quilting was inspired by two classes I took on Craftsy: one was “Creative Quilting with your Walking Foot”, tutored by  Jacquie Gering; the other was “Dot to Dot Quilting” with Angela Waters. Angela’s class was basically about FMQ but I took her ideas and meshed them with Jacquie’s ideas and came up with my own walking foot diamonds (I tried FMQ but I can’t do it to my satisfaction – yet!).
 V&F custome quilting
It’s custom quilting and, in my opinion, looks great!

The other project in the title, Scrappy Churn Dash, was also started as a ‘Rainbow Scrap Challenge’ project. In January this year, the colour for the month was blue. I had always wanted to make churn dash blocks so made 4.5” squares for the centres. Then I chose a solid chocolate-brown (most people think it’s black) homespun for the churn dash – brown because it is a shade of orange, the complementary colour of blue, this given some warmth to what could have been a very cold-looking quilt. You can see the story of these blocks here in this post from January 2015.
 finished quilt front
I have several metres of one particular blue fabric so the choice for the backing was pretty easy. I only had to make my signature panel. What I had in mind was to ‘float’ churn dashes over the background but the fabrics I chose don’t stand out enough -- I probably should have gone for light colours rather than darks because this medium tone fabric is obviously darker than I think!
  finished quilt  back 
Anyway, the backing came together quickly and the quilting was done using my new quilting signature – diamonds! This involved more custom-quilting that took a very long time considering there are sixteen four inch squares, eighteen half squares, twelve diamonds, fourteen half diamonds, and four quarter diamonds that were all individually quilted. The only parts that aren’t quilted are the churn dash motifs themselves and the squares in the centre of each churn dash – my teacher and the owner of my LQS both agreed there was more than enough quilting on there to hold the layers in place! It is a donation quilt, after all, and my time is better spent making another quilt than in over-quilting!
BCCD custom quiltingBCCD custom quilting from back

My quilts measure about 52” by 64”, so there is quite a lot of turning of the quilt in the quilting process; just as well I bought a machine that has a largish throat! The downside of custom quilting, apart from having to turn the quilt a lot, is all the ends that have to be sewn in when the quilting’s done!
And before I go, I just have to show you my sunglasses case that I also finished in March
sunglasses case
and my zipper pouch with box corners that I finished in April.
lingerie zipper pouch lingerie zipper pouch inside and out   lingerie zipper pouch box corner

Putting a zipper in is not as difficult as I thought and I look forward to trying some more – I watched several tutorials and think I’ll try this one from Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilting Company next.


The sunglasses pouch was made from a tutorial by Gourmet Quilter. I’m not entirely happy with mine but I can see ways of improving on the next one!


After Scrappy Churn Dash was done, I took a few week’s break from quilting and patchwork to work on some family history but now I’m back in to the stitching groove and will be back soon to show you my works in progress. Look for that post next week; Thursday at the latest as I link up with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced blog.

Until then, may your stitching bring you much joy.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

knitting continues but it’s not my choice of project

Firstly, welcome to all my new followers; many of whom have started following since March when I wrote my last post. I hope you’ll stick around but I’ll understand if you don’t; my posts are very sporadic due to the turn my life has taken.
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As long-term followers would know, I have given up knitting in yarns that I don’t like the feel of – acrylic being top of the list. I am not a yarn snob but I’ve decided life is just too short (and my stash is too big) to knit with yarns that I don’t like. Some acrylics are very soft; for example, the new “Stallion” yarn from Spotlight is lovely and soft but an 8ply (DK) it is not! However, most of the acrylics I have worked with over the years are quite harsh and have a very plasticky feel; which, I have to admit,  I didn’t notice until I started working in wool or sock yarn more frequently!  At Easter, I still had quite a bit of acrylic yarn in my stash but was slowly getting rid of it by sending it home with DD each time she came to visit!

I had also given up knitting blankets in favour of smaller projects. A blanket can warm only one person but the yarn used (about 1 kilogram) can be used to knit beanies, fingerless mitts and scarves, thereby keeping several people warm. I have nothing against knitting blankets; it’s just not what I choose to do with my time. I prefer to knit socks or to challenge myself with a new pattern or technique.

Then mum came to live with us; we thought it would be for a few weeks but we were naive about how long the process of getting someone into an aged care facility takes!

She had not knitted for a couple of years but her interest was renewed when she saw me knitting. That would be fine but she can’t remember how to cast on or cast off; and she can’t fix her problems if she drops a stitch. Even if she accidentally creates a stitch (I still haven't figured out how she’s doing it) then gets towards the end of the row, she doesn’t know what to do with the extra stitch (or stitches) at the end of the row. If she started with fifty stitches and there are now 51, she just goes to pieces.

There is no concept of “wait” and if I ask her too, she gets all huffy. Then she stands over me until I’ve dealt with the issue and sometimes that means unpicking several rows of very tight knitting!

Anyway, you get the picture. Despite all that, mum’s output is more than I can keep up with. Firstly, I have had to buy more straight needles and acrylic to keep her in knitting supplies! *sigh*

Since she came to live with us, eighteen weeks ago, she has knitted squares for one blanket (I spent much of my recent holiday/vacation sewing blanket squares together) and enough strips (I’m not sewing squares any more!) for three full blankets and is currently working on the final strips for the fifth blanket (she knits two strips alternately so that she always has knitting ready to go).

I now use all the time I would normally spend on my own knitting projects (plus some) making sure she has knitting to go, ripping back where there are too many rows in a strip and knitting strips together to make blankets! Apart from the leg of one sock, I have not had time to knit my own projects. So much for the cardigan I was going to make for myself to wear in spring (starts Speedometer here in Australia)!

I could knit during the day while she’s busy knitting, but I’m making quilts or doing family history.

Anyway, enough; this post sounds like I’m complaining …. I intended it to be a post to show what mum is up to and to let you know that I am, indeed, still in the craft world.

So, here we go...

the blanket made from squares which I sewed together (tricky when the “squares” are all different sizes and tensions):
 mum's blanket #1

and the blanket made from strips which I knitted together and grafted by the no-sew-method taught by Galena Khmeleva in her Orenberg lace workshops.
   mum's blanket #2
Both photos were taken from the front deck of the house we rented for ten days’ holiday/vacation in June. (It was supposed to be a holiday but planning, shopping and cooking – even with assistance - for eight people every night is not a holiday for me!)

I was going to show you the pile of strips but it’s uninteresting so you’ll have to wait until the strips become blankets! 

In my next post I’ll show you the quilting projects I have finished since March. Expect the post on either Friday or Saturday when I link up with Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday.

Until then; may your stitches bring you much joy!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

finishes!

I’m linking this post with Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday which, this week, is being hosted by Janet at Simply Pieced blog.

Last week, before I went away, I managed to get the binding on my teacher’s donated quilt and to hand sew it down. The trickiest part of the project then loomed – getting all the pencil marks out of the border. I’m not sure how long they had been there but my teacher intimated that it had been a while. I rubbed Amway’s LOC into every inch of that border by hand; it took ages. Then I put it in my front-loading washing machine, prayed and let the machine do its thing! An hour later, I hung it on the line – there was not a pencil mark in sight! Praise the Lord!

Sometimes I look at the binding fabric and wonder if I made the right choice. It’s a green and beige stripe; I think it’s a Debbie Mumm fabric. The green is very similar to the greens in the quilt but, because the beige stripe and the green stripe are the same width, from a distance it reads as a muddy light khaki colour!  Up close it looks fine but from further away: well, I’m not so sure. However, it’s done and I’m not going to change it – mostly because I didn’t have any other more suitable fabric here to use! The photo shows my first quilting of a curved line using my walking foot and following a pattern.
 Kerrie's quilt 2 quilting and binding

So, may I present K.’s finished quilt (remember, I didn’t make it; I only quilted the border, bound it and washed it). Unfortunately, the colours are a bit washed out -- the photo above shows the real intensity of the colours.
Kerrie's quilt 2 faded colours

But wait, there’s more…

Yesterday afternoon, I joined the pre-cut binding strips and attached the binding to my Jacob’s Ladder Goes Barn Raising quilt. Last night, as mum and WM watched the football (rugby league), I sewed the binding down. This afternoon I sewed down the two sides of the label that weren’t held down by the binding.

So, for your further viewing pleasure, may I present another finish:
 Jacobs Ladder finished Jacobs LAdder back shows quilting

And in knitting news (drum roll please!)…

Last December I started knitting a bear for my great-niece at the request of my niece who bought the pattern and sent it to me. It was a very fiddly knit; lots of teeny-tiny pieces. When I pulled it out last week, I could not figure out where I was up to so decided to start at the beginning of the pattern and put all those little pieces together as directed (I had knitted them on a long train journey and didn’t have the things I needed to sew it together at the time). The head (seen left of photo ) seemed way too big for the body but I proceeded anyway!
charley bear

Surprisingly, it came together much better than I thought it would. I sat in the hairdresser's shop last Friday morning (20 March) waiting for mum to have her hair set and worked on the legless bear  and left home (for the wedding) last Friday with a bear that just needed some final adjustments. On Saturday, by the time we needed to have lunch and get ready for the wedding, I had got it to the point where I had to add only one more eye and some paw prints on one foot. I procrastinated on that second eye for a couple of days – I really dislike embroidering faces on knitted toys – if the eyes are wrong the whole thing is wrong! the pattern called for buttons but I don’t sew buttons on toys for two-year-old children I prayed and took courage – and it turned out much better than I’d even dared hope! I am very, very pleased with how this turned out!

2015 Charley Bear

The greatest compliment came when my niece said “it’s Charley Bear” and my sister came to have a look. She almost reeled in shock when she realised I had knitted it! Charley Bear is a TV character for under-fours. Here’s a clip for those not familiar with the show (I have grandsons so I’ve seen it many times).


I’m hoping to see another quilted finish and another knitted finish before next weekend! Hey, when you’re on a roll … LOL