The Cloths of Heaven 18: quilty math

I have to rethink the yoyo border.

I made 30 yoyos to see how fast I could get. They take a minimum of 5 minutes each, even using the Clover yoyo maker and working flat out, and I’m quite fast. Cut your circle, insert the fabric into the yoyo template, stitch all round, draw up the thread, distribute the pleats nicely, stitch through and knot off. Done.

Yoyo testingI laid out enough to cover a 10 inch section of the border. It takes 18 x 1½ inch yoyos, laid out as I’d originally planned.

I have a total length of 328 inches of border to cover. That’s 32.8 x 10 inch sections x 18 yoyos. A total of 590 yoyos. Eeek!

At a rate of 5 minutes per yoyo, that’s 2,950 minutes, 49 hours. If I did nothing else for 5 hours a day (unlikely…!) it would take me 10+ days.

New border optionsSo, yes, I’m rethinking. I still want to use yoyos, I love the textural aspect they bring to the surface design. But instead of covering the surface densely with them, I shall quilt the border instead and use the yoyos to enhance the quilted surface. I’m looking at triangular or trellis quilting patterns with yoyos at intersections or in the spaces. The yoyos will be in the colours used in the side panels, so I’m looking at a plain dark background colour, coloured stitching and coloured yoyos.

Dot & dash layoutOf the designs on the above page of my notebook, I’m liking the ‘dot and dash’ version at the bottom, where zigzags of yoyos weave through zigzags of stitching. This design would only take 6 yoyos per 10 inches, which amounts to only 197 yoyos or about 16 hours. Two hours a night for 8 days. That’s quite doable!

So, another rethink resolved. It’s a weight off my mind. I had been avoiding the calculations, knowing it was going to be a lot of yoyos. I just didn’t think it would be so many. I may well end up embellishing the border a bit more, time permitting, but this is a good solution.

And now, it’s time to get back to the sewing machine. Side panels to stitch together!


The Cloths of Heaven 17: clarity

I had to do a bit more work, but now I see my way clear.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 11.19.54 amThank you to everyone who participated in the poll. ‘Radiant’ was a clear winner, which confirms what my own instinct told me.

Behind the scenes, I also tried it the other way, with green radiating out to red. This is how it looks, beside the red glow version.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 11.16.48 amI want this quilt to retain its blue/green primary colour scheme, but with red/purple highlights. To me, the red glow version achieves this better, not least because the corners will then be darker blue and green. If I go with the green glow, the whole balance shifts towards a red/purple overall impression, as the corners would then also be red/purple. Not what I want. I also think that the red glow version frames the centre better, rather than blends into it. Sometimes you just have to do the work to settle any internal doubts…

Right, back to the sewing room. I have a whole load of setting out to get on with!

The Cloths of Heaven 16: order vs chaos

I have a dilemma. No, it doesn’t hurt, but it’s annoying.

I have now cut all the squares to make up the side and corner panel for Cloths of Heaven. I’m happy with the mix of jewelled and dark colours, and now that the press-cut-press-cut-press-cut agony is over, it’s time to start sewing once again. Here’s where the dilemma comes in.

Construction pageThe original concept for the quilt was that the colours for the side and corner panels would be mixed, jumbled, random and otherwise haphazard. There’s a pin on my Pinterest board for this quilt which contains all these colours and more, co-existing in beautiful but random harmony, hence the original idea. I knew I’d have trouble with true random because of my compulsive eye not allowing certain colour adjacencies. What I didn’t envisage was that while I was setting out the squares, my subconscious would take over, enter into a conspiracy with my hand, and give me a totally different idea for the side panels altogether. And I’m pretty sure I like it more!

What do you think? Below is random (as far as I’m capable of random!), and above is the other idea. It radiates. I really like the idea of a glow surrounding the central panel. I think the corner squares will remain muted in blues and greens, but if I go with this route, I’ll widen the glow effect so it reaches nearly the full length of the panel.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 3.37.05 pm

Here’s how both options would look against the centre panel: radiant at the top, random at the bottom:

Radiant side panel Centre panelScreen Shot 2015-12-29 at 4.03.51 pm

What do you think? Is it better radiant or random? I don’t promise to follow the consensus, but I’m interested to know how the options strike you. Have your say!



The Secret Revealed

These were for a gift, so I couldn’t post about them before.

Susan Druding teapot

The border is actually a mid-dark green, not black as it appears in this photo; it tones well with the leaves in the teapot print.

Piece by Number cups

The willow pattern fabric was an obvious choice; it was a gift from Viv* when I was making the Worldwide Friends quilt, and I had some left.

One of my blogging friends, Dale from the blog Ella Dee, has just moved from Sydney to mid-north coast New South Wales, to a tiny township deep in the countryside. She and her husband are taking the plunge into a calmer, saner life in a wonderful old house.

I missed getting them to her before the move itself, which was just before Christmas (as if the festive season wasn’t mad enough!), so I wanted to get these ready in time for the start of the New Year as well as their New Life.

We’ll be visiting them early next year, but I didn’t want to wait, and I didn’t want her to wait, so they’ve gone off in the mail today. If Dale sees them here, well, it won’t be long till the real things arrive, and there’s a fair chance she won’t spot them before they arrive anyway!

In case you’re interested, the cups are a free paper piecing pattern from Piece by Number, and there are three other styles too, all 4″ blocks, so perfect for mug rugs. The teapot is another free pattern, designed by Susan Druding, and is an 8″ block, which I thought would make a very good sized tea or coffee pot heat pad. There are actually two teapot patterns in the link; I preferred the taller design. Lots of fiddly small bits, and my quilting is a tiny bit, um, organic, but I don’t think their new owners will be bringing out the ruler to check! It was all done freehand and at speed, hence the slight wobbliness.

Tomorrow I take the plunge back into The Cloths of Heaven. It’s time to start cutting the 240 coloured squares that will form the wide border around the central landscape. I shall enjoy arranging the squares considerably more than the pressing and cutting, but once it’s done, it’s done. 4 long side pieces and 4 square corner pieces to be made up: cut, stitched, sandwiched and quilted, then attached to the central panel with sashing strips.

After that, there’s one last big job. The outer border with the yoyos. Lots and lots of yoyos…




SAL 22: more letters

I hope you all had a very enjoyable Christmas break, and that however you choose to celebrate the festive season, it was filled with laughter and happiness.

It’s Stitch Along time again. Here’s where I was last time:

blue sampler

And here’s where I am now.  Not too shabby, I think, considering the Christmas distractions and opportunities to put it off in favour of something else!

SAL 27.12.115

As always, it’s worth your while visiting the other SAL stitchers. Don’t forget about the difference in time zones; if you’re seeing me first, you may need to drop in to theirs a bit later to give them a chance to get their posts up.

Avis at
Claire at
Gun at
Carole at
Jule at
Wendy at
Lucy at
Cathy at
Jacqui at
Jess at

Queensland Christmas bounty

We’re ready for Christmas, but went out this morning to get fresh milk, taking the scooter because we knew the place would be heaving with last minute shoppers.

On the way, we spotted an enterprising young man with a trailer full of boxes of enormous ripe mangoes. At $10 a box, it was too good to miss. We bought our milk, and then filled the rest of the scooter storage space with mangoes. For our $10 we got 12 huge fruit and 9 limes, thrown in for nothing in the festive spirit.

Christmas centrepieceWe picked out some that were green, to ripen slowly, some that were half ripe, and a few that were fully ripe, for sweet and sticky feasting over the next few days. I shall cut some up and freeze them in chunks for smoothies, purée others for desserts, but I suspect the vast majority of this seasonal bounty will be paired with sliced fresh banana and yoghurt for my breakfast. Meanwhile, it makes a pretty tropical Christmas centrepiece for my dining table, don’t you think? A change from holly wreaths and everything dusted with ‘snow’…

Scale shotLook at the size of these babies. That tape measure is opened out to 30cm/12 inches. The mango at bottom left is nearly 6 inches long, the one above it is even larger.

And there’s more fruity goodness on the way. The Dowager has a large stem of sugar bananas ripening in her garden at the first Chiconia, from the tree I planted two years ago. We’ll be getting half of them, as she can’t possibly eat a whole stem herself. My lemon tree is bearing despite its small size, and we should get a few from that. The mandarin tree that produced so enthusiastically earlier this year is at it again, with dozens of small green marble-sized fruit. Our two old mango trees at the back of the yard are bearing despite being distinctly scruffy and infested with green ants. There are at least 8 small fruit ripening, so if the birds, possums and fruit bats will stay off them, we may have home grown mangoes too.

Monsoon frontAnd last but not least, rain is on its way. There’s a large monsoon front slowly working its way south. At the beginning of the week, Cairns in the far north got a drenching,  it’s Townsville’s turn today, and by Friday or Saturday, we should see some of it here, which will be lovely. The grass will green up, the bare patches in the lawn will fill in and all the finger wide cracks all over the back yard will close up. Of course, it means we’ll actually have to mow the grass, but hey, that’s the price you pay.

I’m signing off for the next few days to spend time with family. I wish you all a happy and peaceful festive season, however you celebrate it.

The Cloths of Heaven 15: the centre completed

Yay! The hardest part is done.

Completed centre

Star brightI have got through all the hand stitching and quilting in one piece, a bit sore in the hands but hugely satisfied at how my internal vision of this quilt is being realised. So often my imagination outstrips my skills and results are clumsy or dull. This one is making me very happy – so far!

Fabrics for bordersThe next step is to cut all the squares for the panels that surround the central square. The colour scheme is going to be expanding, to incorporate eggplant, burgundy, dark cerise and purple into the existing green and blue colourway. The colours of the squares will be randomly distributed, but will tend to get darker towards the outer edge. On the outer edge of each surround panel will be the yoyo/suffolk puff borders. Quilting for these outer sections is going to be simple and quite plain. There is no image to enhance with the texture of hand quilting, and I don’t want it to distract from the colour work and image in the centre, so I’ll probably go with my favourite machine stitched cross hatching, or something equally plain.

Making the yoyos is going to be quite a labour. I have to make some samples to work out their coverage before I’ll know how many will be wanted, but the border is 6 inches wide all the way round, and I’m thinking that’s equivalent to 3 yoyos deep. I do have a clever plastic thingy made by Clover which is designed to make yoyo manufacturing a lot easier, so I look forward to testing it out.

Right, time to go and get pressing.  I may even need a couple more fabrics – oh no! what a tragedy: I’ll have to go shopping!