Squishy delight!

Sometimes, it’s bills, sometimes junk mail. And just sometimes, the mailbox contains a thing of delight.

Or in this case, two things of delight. The lovely Lynda of Life on the Farmlet has sent me two really wonderful paper pieced envelope blocks to kick off the commencement of Signed, Tealed & Delivered (ST&D), the next Ovarian Cancer collaborative quilt for their next fundraising event in May 2018.

I’ll be posting a call to action at the beginning of September, to remind all of you who’ve said you’d make a block or two what I need you to make, and if necessary, providing the paper piecing pattern which was kindly adapted to the size we need by Katy Cameron of The Littlest Thistle from her Easter post this year. I’ll also repost the sketch of the quilt to remind people what the design looks like.

What a lovely surprise. It could so easily have been the electricity bill!

Gadget crisis…

I’m beginning to get very frustrated….

My embroidery project is making poor progress right now. I have to thread the embroidery needle constantly, for which I need a threader because it’s two strands of floss and they’re floppy and a bit fluffy, and the needle is a fine one, which I prefer. Currently, my needle threaders are lasting about 2 minutes. The little wire loop that passes through the needle’s eye just pulls right out of the plastic handle. I have run through two packs of three threaders in the last three weeks. SIX threaders. It’s not like I’m being rough or careless, they’re just not robust enough for constant threading.

So, I’m putting the problem out there. Does anyone own a rock solid, cast iron, bullet proof needle threader? Something that’ll thread a fine embroidery needle. And if so, who makes it and where can I buy it?

Please help, before I toss my cross stitch out in frustration 😦


An ignominious retreat

Small birds are amazingly courageous.

I’ve often seen a crowd of small and not normally fierce garden birds seeing off a larger potential predator. Today, though, I had to applaud. A pair of Peewees (Grallina cyanoleuca) were relentless in seeing off a large juvenile Brown Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus), who’d wafted down and had taken up a watching post on the neighbour’s fence. He sat there impassively for a while as they swooped closer and closer, yelling noisily all the while, until finally he leapt into the air, clapped his wings hard a few times, and disappeared into the sky to take his hunting exploits elsewhere.

Sorry about the poor focus – I ran in for my camera and fired off a couple of shots but by the time I’d got the thing properly focused he was already away. Brown Goshawks prey on small birds, but will take larger ones if the opportunity arises. They have large, strong yellow legs and talons, a raptor’s tearing beak and mad, staring yellow eyes under heavy eyebrows. You can tell this one is a juvenile because of the heavier brown splashes on the breast feathers. Adults have finer barring on the feathers there. I’m not at all sure I’d want to mess with one myself, so it’s particularly impressive that the Peewees got rid of him.

Routed. And by a pair of noisy clowns!

Sea Glass #10: central square complete

This is more fun than I thought it would be!

Hand quilting can be physically demanding. It can make wreckage of your fingers, give you a backache from hunching over your work, and a slight sense of “will this never end?” if you’re working on a really big quilt.

But somehow, I’m managing to avoid most of those problems. Not the finger wreckage of course, that’s an occupational hazard (although my calluses are developing nicely), but I find to my slight amazement that I’m really enjoying hand quilting this rather large piece of work. All 6,400 square inches of it….

So, anyway, I’ve got the central flower basket medallion and Border 1 done. Now I have to address Border 2, which consists of large 16 inch pieced squares with a windmill at the centre of each.  I’m thinking of maybe something that’ll create a swirl effect around the windmills, with gentle curves, to create a contrast to the formal geometric woven design used for Border 1. Or it could be something completely different. I need to spend some more time squinting at it before I decide.

Something I need to consider with whatever design I come up with is that I don’t want to keep turning the quilt to stitch the design fully; it needs to be something that can be stitched in just a couple of directions so I don’t need to do gymnastics across the table top. It’s not a question of compromising the design, just being a bit clever about how it’s executed. Unless it turns into a freehand design, I’ll probably make another paper template to make marking up the quilt top easier.

It’s a good job the days are getting longer and summer is coming. I need all the good daylight I can get 🙂

Sea Glass #9: keeping my hand in

I won’t be going back to the radio silence of the past couple of weeks…

And stuff has been going on in the background, just nothing I wanted to post about yet. But I wanted to show you where I’d got to with the hand quilting on Sea Glass.

So, the four central flower basket blocks are hand quilted. That wasn’t quite as much fun as it might have been; there are lots of layers in parts of the blocks which made it quite tricky getting the needle through evenly and tidily. I was very happy about my ‘big stitch’ decision at that point! Once that bit was done, I had to work out how to quilt the first border. I was in the hand quilting groove by that point and thought I’d carry on.  I’m not using a frame or hoop on this job; I have the quilt laid out on my 3 metre (10ft) dining table with the area I’m working on flat and the rest rolled and folded on either side. This creates enough tension that I can quilt without needing a frame if I work on the edge nearest to me. The only downside is that I can’t use the table for anything else right now!

You can see the design I’m using quite clearly on the template. Because it’s geometric, it was pretty easy to transfer the design; I just punched holes through the direction changes and intersections of the lines, and marked through with either a fine pencil on the light fabrics or a white ceramic marker on the dark ones. If you click on the image below you can see how it looks when marked.

Lift the template, join the dots by drawing in lines with a ruler and the job’s done. Hand quilting these is quick and easy, they’re all going the same way. There may be a bit of subsequent filling in around the corners, but I’ll see how it looks later once the main part is finished. This is a big (80² inch / 2m²) quilt and I don’t want to make work for myself if it’s not necessary.

Now I just have to think of something for the next border 🙂

ScrapHappy August

Once again, it’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

This month, I’ve had a bit of a rummage in my surprisingly large box of brown scraps. I say surprising because brown is probably one of my least favourite colours to quilt with. Most of the scraps date from the time I made a Tree of Life quilt for my brother. The tree itself was made up of strip-pieced multiple brown fabrics, hence the generous array now at my disposal. I still haven’t made much of a dent in the brown scraps!

For the second block, I’ve made something from my neutrals box, picking out black, white and grey to go with the other strong colours I’ve already used.

After this, it’ll be time to start again, but this time using the paler, less saturated scraps for contrasting lighter blocks.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps – no new fabrics. It can be a random or formal quilt block, a pillow or pincushion, a bag or hat, a collage or rag rug. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address shown on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. You don’t have to worry about a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at):

Usually has a scrappy post:

Gun at https://rutigt.wordpress.com (in Swedish and English)
Titti at http://tittisquiltlek.blogspot.se (in Swedish only)
Heléne at http://quiltochsom.blogspot.se (in Swedish only)

Sometimes has a scrappy post:

Eva at bambisyr-evaj.blogspot.com (in Swedish only)
Sue at sewingmagpie.blogspot.com (in English only)
Nanette at http://stitchandsow-homeandgarden.blogspot.com.au (in English only)
Lynn at https://thetialys.wordpress.com (in English only)
Norma at https://shesewsyouknow.wordpress.com (in English only)
Lynda at: https://pixilatedtoo.wordpress.com (in English only)
Birthe: http://birthesrom.blogspot.no (in Norwegian only)
Turid: http://densyendehimmel.blogspot.se (in English and Norwegian)
Susan: https://desertskyquilts.wordpress.com (in English only)
Cathy: http://nanacathydotcom.wordpress.com (in English only)
Debbierose: https://sewrosey.wordpress.com (in English only)
Tracy: https://itsatsweetsday.wordpress.com/ (in English only)
Jill: http://nicepieceofwork.wordpress.com/ (in English only)
Claire: https://knitnkwilt.wordpress.com/ (in English only)
Jan: http://thesnailofhappiness.com/ (in English only)
Karen: https://mewithptsd.wordpress.com/ (in English only)
Moira: http://quiltedsnail.blogspot.com/ (in English only)
Sandra: https://daffodilwild.wordpress.com/ (in English only)
Linda: http://kokaquilts.blogspot.co.nz (in English only)

See you again, same time next month!

Swamp thing…

… is how I’m feeling right now.

Notice the sad effect of severely blocked sinuses and a nose that’s been blown into extinction…

I’m very sorry to have disappeared off the radar for so long. There has been a protracted period of bad health, first some fairly serious gastric issues landing me in hospital for further investigations, results still pending. Then, o joy, despite having an annual flu shot, I got flu. Correction. We both got flu. The Husband, being made of sterner stuff than I, was up and about within 2 days. I could not get my temperature down and it took 5 days before I was tottering around again. We both still sound like a TB ward and cannot sleep without a small mountain of pillows to keep us almost upright at night. We’re on the third bottle of cough medicine, the fourth packet of cold & flu remedy, and still the nose-blowing, whooping and wheezing ring out in the small hours.

On to more cheerful subjects.  I’ve actually sandwiched and pinned Sea Glass, and have made a start on hand quilting the central flower basket section. This is something I can do in short bursts without it being at all taxing, so it’s the perfect convalescent occupation. In addition, I’ve done some more hand quilting on the Hatbox blocks, but that’ll have to wait until the end of the month, at which time I hope to have some-thing decent to show you.

I must get back into the sewing room in the next couple of days, as the 15th of the month and ScrapHappy Day are approaching, and it wouldn’t do to have nothing done!

Anyway, I thought I’d just let people know I’m still alive, if not exactly flourishing. Hopefully normal service will resume soon…. Swamp living is getting rather dull.