Happiness is … almost halfway

I’ve had a few good hours at the sewing machine, and it’s coming together.

Bliss to be back in my creative groove. I’ve missed sewing while I was away – or at least, I’ve missed the speed at which one can assemble things on a sewing machine. I seem to have avoided the usual stuff-ups and the quilt is almost sliding togther. No cutting errors, no sewing errors, nothing the wrong way round. It can’t possibly last – can it?  I haven’t cut, pricked or burned myself today either. Almost like it was meant to happen!

Progress so far:

Top three lines are assembled. Next two need to have their horizontal sashing added.  The bottom 5 lines are still to be started.

Top three lines are assembled.
Next two need to have their horizontal sashing added.
The bottom 5 lines are still to be started.

I’m still totally in love with these two Amy Butler ranges (Lark and Cameo). They contain colours and patterns I wouldn’t normally consider, but which work together somehow. The white sashing is scrap left over from the Triple Trouble quilts. Hopefully I’ll have enough, but if not, I’ll just need a bit of extra.

Right, I have to go to the kitchen now and assemble some more gingerbread. I’m addicted to the stuff at the moment.  Tomorrow I’ll be making bread and peanut butter cookies, so there’ll be a little less sewing :-(. And I’ll be sewing dark blue hexies for the Car Quilt while I watch TV tonight. Unless I decide to do some more work on Thing. Or work on a paper-pieced design I’m trying to make work. I keep ending up with Y shaped seams…

You see the dilemmas you face when you have multiple WIPs?

Planning time again

With Happiness pinned to my design wall, just waiting for me to give it some time, I looked at my To Do List.

High on the “I know I shouldn’t but I just want to play with it” shortlist is the Chez Moi fabrics bundle.  This quilt is going to be called Amistad (Friendship), because a friend has made it possible.  I think I have just enough to make a 9 patch/1 patch alternating step and repeat layout.  It’s not going to be a big quilt, but big enough to wrap up in and feel friendship keeping me warm!  The plan is to use the large prints in the range for the 1 patch, and the smaller prints for the 9 patch.  I’ll then hand quilt around the design on the 1 patch squares, and do a spiral in the 9 patch squares.  Haven’t got as far as the back yet…

Amistad: fabrics and very sketchy sketch.

Amistad: fabrics and very sketchy sketch.

Then I’ve got the lap quilt I promised my sister in law a year and a half ago. She has been remarkably patient, and very undemanding in terms of what she wants.  I have a nice green jelly roll of lights and darks, and some green/blue Aboriginal Spot to bind it with.  So I’ve picked a gorgeous geometric format which Avis at Oh Sew Tempting was kind enough to design and post a tutorial about here.  I think it’ll look a bit different, because my greens are mainly darkish and lightish, rather than very pale and very dark, but it should work nicely.  Haven’t begun to consider the quilting yet! And depending on how it works out, I may call it Broken Bottles.  Because of the colour, you understand! It would be wonderful if I could get this one done before we go away in April.  That would mean that my brother gets his birthday quilt and his wife gets hers at the same time. I could carry them both with me and hand them over in person.  Hmm. Bit of time pressure there, then. We shall see.

Broken Bottles (maybe), jelly roll strips and Oh Sew Tempting's design.

Broken Bottles (maybe), jelly roll strips and Oh Sew Tempting’s design.

Tomorrow I’m off work, so after some morning chores, I’m free to indulge myself with several hours of quilting.  The Husband is on night shift, and will be disappearing out in the afternoon.  So I’ll be head down, machine roaring, iron hissing and steaming, happy as Larry. It feels great to be back at my machine, after over a week away from it!

Well, that’s my work list completely turned upside down, but I’m happy about it.  It’s actually looking quite healthy; things are being completed and crossed off.

Unexpected loot

– And of the very finest quality: the kind I’d have bought myself if I had even the smallest shred of an excuse!

My dear friend Tracey (the one who needed the black & white Magpie quilt I’ve previously posted about) has bought me some fat quarters of Moda Chez Moi.  I could not have thought of a better present.  Not only do they complement the ones I already have, there is a duplicate of one of my favourites, and best of all, they’ve brought the total yardage up to something reasonable, so I can now contemplate a full sized quilt.  Don’t you love having quilty friends who just understand? And who read your blog, so they know what you’re currently loving and lusting after…?

The Chez Moi top-up

The Chez Moi top-up

The original set

The original set

Anyway, I’m home again after 4 days on the road, two days at my sister’s in NSW, and mighty glad to see my own house and own bed again.  The bags are unpacked, the dirty laundry is chugging away in the washing machine, supper is under control, and the garden has been watered.  All is right with my world, except that I have to go to work tomorrow rather than start sewing the Happiness quilt.  Well, if I could do that, this would be heaven, and not West Mackay.

More soon.

Water. Too much and not enough

To some, it’s a blessing, to others a curse.

We have come from a state whose farmers are in crisis because they don’t get enough, to a state where people see black clouds and curse, because it means their homes or businesses may once again be under water. The contrast has been remarkable.  Driving down, we passed through cattle country where the ground was brown. The grass had all been eaten off. The cattle were thin, and moving across the landscape like migratory herds, searching for anything green. The dams were all down to drying sludge, the creeks narrowed to a small central thread of water.

Here in this part of northern NSW, it’s a different story. The countryside is lush, vivid green. The grass is luxuriant, up to the steers’ knees. The beasts are glossy, well-rounded and contented. The dairy cattle are lining up to be milked with huge bags, as always. There will be a good hay or silage crop soon. We said to ourselves that if we win the lottery, we’ll buy a grazing property down here, and the branch of our family that runs grazing properties in Queensland will aways have somewhere to agist at least their breeding stock.

And then there’s the flooding part. Year after year, communities go under water and lose their possessions, their homes, their businesses. Councils continue to give planning permission for new housing in known flood zones. People buy houses without checking if they’re in flood reach. Highways are flooded, vital supplies fail to get through, communities are cut off.  A year ago, when I was moving to Queensland, and had the last load of my household goods and treasured possessions on the back of the ute and a trailer behind it, we were caught in a small country town by the rising floods.  There were three roads in and out.  They were all closed. The big dam in the hills above the town was over-full, and they had to open the sluices and release the excess or the dam would give way.  So the surrounding countryside received a huge pulse of extra water, and went under.  We were stuck there for three days, in the only motel room left in town, where the bathroom ceiling leaked constantly into a bucket. The town ran out of milk, then bread, then slowly everything else. I watch my possessions succumb to the endless, pounding rain…

All over the world, it seems, weather has been extreme this year. Whether it’s the Big Freeze in the US, the Big Floods in Northern Europe, the Big Dry here or the Big Wind in the Philippines, we are being shown very clearly that Nature has the upper hand, and we just have to go along for the ride.

It’s another grey, overcast, foggy day here in Dorrigo. Hurray!

Words Under Pressure #17

Every migrant knows that no matter how wonderful the new life, the new home is, there are some things which still tug at the heart’s memory.  Here are some of mine.

And I Miss…

English spring mornings, fresh and green,
The first primroses, honeysuckle blowing gusts
Of lavish perfume under my night-time window,
The triumphant morning song of blackbirds,
The tender baby-gold of new oak leaves,
The promise of release from daytime darkness.

Ease of body on warm summer afternoons,
The haze of bluebells in the cool scented woods.
Wild roses and raspberries in the hedgerow,
Pimms with strawberries and cream.
Sun without scorching, dry without drought,
Endless childhood summer days.

Blackberry baskets loaded, then jars of jam,
Late apples picked from September trees,
The shouting, glorious gold of beech trees turning,
Squirrels in the walnut tree, starlings swarming,
The high V of geese heading south, distant honking.
Nature tucking herself into bed.

Christmas in wintertime, log fires, apple scented.
A sleeping world snug under a thick white blanket.
Flannel pyjamas, cosy woollen socks.
Stark-black trees laced with frost against grey sky,
Deer running in car headlights, early lambs.
The sun at rest, the world restoring itself.

Tomorrow, we’ll be on the road. I’m taking the new camera in the hope that something in the next 6 days will be worth a photo or two, but I’m not holding my breath, the weather’s a bit sordid. Anyway, I’ll post again when I get back.  Meanwhile, I’ll be eagerly reading your posts, so get cracking!

Picking up speed again

My short break from quilting has become a slightly longer break than I thought.

To be fair, I’ve been at work the last couple of days, which is not fun just now, and prevents me from diving joyfully into sewing the minute I get home. I have only small progresses to report.

I have unpicked my 4 ties, and there is indeed quite a lot of fabric once it’s all opened out and pressed flat again. But as they’re cut on the bias, they need to be carefully handled. I haven’t decided their eventual fate yet, but every so often I go and look at them and arrange them into different shapes and think about it. Something will present itself from my subconscious.

I tried to make a start on Happiness, by sewing the short white pieces to the side of each square. But I was tired and irritable and kept getting myself tangled up in things, so rather than stuff something up, I put it aside again for a day when I have calm and the freedom to devote a couple of hours to the job. Happiness is supposed to make me happy, not grumpy!

The best progress of all has been on Mystery Woolly Thing. My crochet action is becoming quite fast, and Thing is growing nicely. I think I’m about halfway through, but it’s evolving by itself, I’m just along for the ride! Take a look:

Thing.  That lilac band is what I'm currently working on. Yes, those are my toes...

Thing. That lilac band is what I’m currently working on. Yes, those are my toes…

I was inspired by photographs of the rock formations around Petra, in Jordan. The rock is weathered and smoothed by the passage of time, wind and water. The colours range from palest cream, through gold, ochre, brown and rust, with occasional bands of lilac and almost purple. This link to my Pinterest Landscapes board shows exactly what I mean: Petra rocks. The guy who took the photos is a genius at capturing the colours…

Tomorrow I have a fairly busy day of preparation for our trip south. We’ll be two days on the road, two days there, and two days on the road back. Thing will be coming with me as my car work, since the Car Quilt is a bit in-betweenish, and I don’t want to cart it around for fear of mucking it up. It’s not going to be a trip for fun, but for business, and while I’ll be taking my camera in case of anything lovely to photograph, I may not be posting much. I’m feeling the withdrawal symptoms already 😦

Right, I have to go and hold forth in the kitchen.  More tomorrow.

The Tree of Life 20: Done, done, done!

The nice thing about pain is that it feels so good when it stops.

I feel rather the same way about this quilt. It was painful while I was doing it, but it feels so good to see the finished thing, and know it’s finally done. I’m sort of proud of myself for pushing out of my comfort zone and achieving a respectable result on something that was a whole lot harder than anything I’ve done before. Every last stitch is done. It’s ready to be folded up and put away till it gets packed for our trip. Except of course that I need to keep it available for family bragging, since you guys out there in WordPress Land are the first to see it!

The finished quilt. I'm really pleased with it

The finished quilt. I’m really pleased with it

Back detail: reverse of the quilting

Back detail: reverse of the quilting

Detail showing 'cloud' quilting

Detail showing ‘cloud’ quilting

The label

The label

The binding went on like a dream. I’ve got three channels sewn into the binding at the top of the quilt, which  lie flat when not in use. And the label’s done too.

I need to give my hands a rest now. There’s been a lot of hand sewing in the last week or so, and the pills are not staying on top of the arthritis. So tonight I will luxuriate in idleness. The Husband is on night shift, so I will hog the entire sofa and all the cushions, I will eat dessert and watch TV.

Tomorrow and Tuesday are work days, so I won’t have much chance to look at Happiness, but I may do a little Car Quilt stitchery in my lunchbreak.

And now, I have an appointment with the TV remote control and the refrigerator…