Foot2Freestyle: May roundup, and conclusion

It’s the last month of the first round of F²F!

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 7.32.54 pmMost of the blocks are either here or on their way. A couple of us have not been able to get their contributions done by the end of the month, with excellent reasons, and I’m really not complaining. For the first time in my life I have multiple WIPs and making my F²F quilt has to take a back seat to getting more important things done, so a delay in receiving blocks is not a problem.

It has been a wonderful year of working with you all, and Sue and I have enjoyed it enough to be going round again. Lessons have been learned, skills have been honed, new skills acquired and perhaps, for some, new passions developed. Personally, I have gone from detesting paper piecing because it seemed so hard, to absolutely loving it and preferring it to regular piecing for many applications. It has given me new ambitions to reach for, and taught me that we all work in different ways, all valid, and all best suited to each of us.

I thank you all for the enjoyment, the beauty, the challenges and the lessons learned in organising this block swap. Some of you are joining us for the next round; only 9 months this time. To the rest of you, I wish you happiness, good progress with your projects and a hope that you will stay in touch.

To the F²F² members, see you all over at the block swap’s new home: http://footsquarefreestyle.wordpress.com.  Progress reports and roundups will still happen here, images will be displayed over there in the new gallery. What a riot of colour that’s going to be – everyone has gone vivid this time round.

It’s been a great block swap. Thank you all.

NOTE: This post has been prepared in advance and scheduled for posting on the last day of F²F. I may not be able to reply to comments straight away due to medical issues, so please be patient. I’ll reply to everyone as soon as I can 🙂

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Back… in the red

There’s no way to pretty it up.

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 2.51.06 pm

Those two bits should line up. And the disk space should be the same as the one above the arrows…

The back is worse than we feared. The surgery is more advanced and takes longer. A special surgical retractor needs to be ordered. The bill is… astronomical.

I’m having an L4/L5 MAS Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion. Apparently it’s the MAS bit that makes it different, they make a smaller hole in me, and insert the screws closer together and it needs a special retractor to avoid damaging the muscles. Net result is less scarring, blood loss, tissue disruption, and time in hospital.

He’s rearranged his surgery list, but it can’t be before 8th June as the hardware won’t be there before that. So I’m sitting in Brisbane airport wearing a stunned expression, waiting for the only flight I could get home, at 6.25pm.

Meanwhile, the most heartfelt possible THANK YOU  for the wonderful love and support you’ve all shown me. Knowing I had you behind me helped me deal with it.

I’m glad I’m not staying on alone. But I wish it was over, including the most painful part. Handing over the plastic.

 

And we’re off…

Three and a half hours to go.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 6.58.57 amI suppose I’d better finish the Moroccan Lamb and Chickpea soup I’m making for the Husband’s lunches. And the packing. And collect all my electronic stuff. And check in online. I had one fairly major blip yesterday when Qantas messaged me to say my flight had been cancelled. Waaaah! It’s all sorted now: I’m on a bigger, more comfortable plane that goes a little faster (10 minutes less in a plane seat, yay!) and nothing extra to pay. My blood pressure did go through the roof, briefly.

I wanted to express my very great appreciation and gratitude for all the good wishes, prayers, candle-lighting and positive thoughts that have been wafting my way since I first discovered my back problems have become acute. I hope to pay you all for your efforts by making a full and pain-free recovery. Meanwhile, I feel borne up by it all, and there’s a real sense of the force and power of good thoughts and intentions, which I hope will guide the surgeon’s hand when the time comes.

If surgery happens this week, it’s unlikely I’ll be posting except for my scheduled F2F posts, which are already done and dusted and waiting to go. One here, and another over on the footsquarefreestyle blog, to launch the start of this year’s block swap.

See you soon, hopefully with excellent news to share.

Teal Tea-Time

I finally managed to get into the kitchen.

Doing my best Quasimodo impression, I lurched about (the back pain is ramping up, bring on the surgery), making a gluten free caramel mud cake batter. I spread it across three cake pans in descending order of size. Of course, I didn’t have the right size for the smallest one, so that got made in a little pie pan and is therefore a slightly strange shape.

Teal Time Cake

The caramel mud cake was splodged with peppermint flavoured teal-coloured (or as near as I could get) buttercream frosting (it helps to disguise the lopsided cake!). Also, my cake stand isn’t blue, but, dear Esther, here is your fabulous paper piecing pattern brought to life in a very wonky and not quite as tall, but rather tasty way. There’s about three-quarters of it left, and I don’t think the remainder will last.

Peppermint gateau

And here’s what it should look like…

What do you think, people? It tastes pretty good, mint-caramel combined.

But not as good as Esther’s block looks….

Time for Teal part 10

More beauties are on their way.

Time for Teal_01 Time for Teal_02_AnnettDespite being quite unwell, Annett has made and sent me two beautiful Dresden Plate blocks – exactly what I most need right now. I am so very grateful for her kindness, as it will save me time in getting the next border done. She’s sensibly given me extra fabric round the outside so I can trim them to size.

As most of you know by now, I am going to need spinal surgery of some kind in the near future, which means it’s likely my sewing time will be considerably reduced. There will be a bit of a hiatus in blogging during and immediately after the procedure, too. As I don’t know when it’s going to be yet, I’m planning to see if I can crank out a few more Dresden Plates of my own this weekend before I have to fly down and consult the neurosurgeon on Monday and Tuesday.

Also on today’s agenda is my first attempt at the Time for Teal Cake. If successful, I will get in a quick post about it, and also give the recipe if anyone’s interested.

I’d better get moving, cakes and plates won’t make themselves!

 

A little holiday….

I may be taking a short break next week.

T2 Sagittal Mid Line

A new picture for you, after the CT scan I showed before. This is a much more detailed MRI image from the middle of my spinal cord, taken from the side. Click on it for a bigger version.

At the top, it’s more than 20mm wide. Down at the bottom, where you see the narrowing, it’s less than 10mm. That is Not Good.

I’m seeing a surgeon in Brisbane, nearly 1,000km south of here, on Tuesday. At that point he’ll decide whether I can go home and wait for my name to come up on his surgery list in due course, or if I get whipped in straight away for something urgent. My pain meds have been tripled. It’s helping, but I don’t know how long the new dose will last before the Big pain breaks through again. It’s great that something is happening, and quickly. It’s stressful that I don’t know exactly what, and when, or for how long.

While I wait for my appointment to come round, I’ll be trying to distract myself with something nice.

I know!  How about testing my Time for Teal Cake recipe? I’ll keep you posted… and then I get to eat cake!

 

Time for Teal part 9

Here are the last two blocks for the centre of the ‘tea table’.

I had a couple of appliqué days, and tried a new (to me) process. Normally, I fuse my piece to the background and then stitch round it. But this adds an extra layer of thickness and stiffens the appliqué section. With the block below, it would have meant 8 layers on top of the background, and the design area would have been quite rigid.

Kate's mug and plate stack

Instead, I used tear-away stabiliser. I laid down all the elements in order on the background, one on top of the other. Behind the light area, I pinned a piece of stabiliser. Then I basted through all the layers, around all the shapes. Next came a small, narrow blanket stitch around all the shapes. Finally, I removed the basting, and on the reverse, carefully removed the stabiliser and snipped away all the excess fabric behind each shape.  Each of those elements has just one layer of fabric, and the block is still nice and flexible. The basting held the pieces in place, and the stabiliser prevented the rucking and channelling you get under the edge stitching when there’s nothing behind it.

Kate's teacups and doiley

I used the same process for this block, but the embroidery stitch around the edge of the ‘doiley’ kept trying to chew up the fabric, and I was lucky to be able to hide a dodgy patch behind one of the cups. If I use this stitch again in appliqué I may use fusible instead, and then the fabric won’t shift at all.

Finishing these last two blocks means that I now have the final arrangement sorted out. Voilà! Tea and cake, anyone…?

Tea Table Centre

Next job is to sandwich each block and quilt it, and then join them. These central blocks will have a pale cream/beige lightly patterned narrow sashing to try and give visual unity, although it’s a bit tricky given the range of background colours! Never mind, I’m sure it’s going to be amazing whatever I do, the blocks are all so lovely.

After that, it’s time to move onto Dresdens. Some more of you have volunteered to produce a block or two, which will be greatly appreciated now that I have to unfortunately ration my time at the sewing machine. I need 7 small (8 inch) and 5 large (10 inch) Dresden blocks, on a light background. I have a whole heap of fabulous scraps. Noooooo problem! After that, it’ll be the outer border, and another 21 blocks needed. I have a fair number of paper piecing blocks sorted out, and I’ll intersperse those with simpler pieced designs. We’re looking good!

Right, back to the sofa to unkink the back. I never thought I’d get bored with sofa-lounging. How times change!