Delft #3: progress

I have been industrious.

Here’s where I am today, all current hexie flowers pinned to my design wall. The layout measures 48 x 42 inches (123 x 106cm), which is quite a substantial piece. I’ve done a lot of the paler joining hexies too, but time is short today and I didn’t have the additional half hour it would have taken to fill them in. It will change the look a little, make it a little more interesting than the pale putty colour of the background.

Sorry, the lighting is bad as it’s overcast today.

I still have a lot of the dark outer hexies fabric and even more of the brighter blue and white leaf print fabric, so I’ll be increasing the size with those. This probably isn’t the final layout, but seemed an appropriate way to show what I’ve got so far.

Amazing how much Netflix you can get through while your hands are busy and your back is sore…

20% plus a fistful more

The 20% is Anemone. 

The fistful more is the yet to be named blue hexie quilt. I have finally applied myself to naming it, as calling it the ‘yet to be named…’ is both embarrassing and clunky. I have decided to call it Delft. I am half Dutch, so the beautiful blue and white pottery by that name which I love so much is part of my cultural heritage. Also, the city is the birthplace of one of my favourite painters, Jan Vermeer (think Girl with a Pearl Earring) and is a beautiful place in itself.

There is progress on both. Anemone has now reached the stage of being 20% quilted. It’s going well. I find it soothing, and easy to find enough time in a day to do a row or two (or maybe three). I’ve finally located my thread conditioner (the little blue box), so now it’s even easier, since it tangles even less than it did before. The relative firmness and non-tanglyness of hand quilting thread is one of the great things of hand quilting for me, especially as I am a lazy quilter and use a long thread. Life is too short for constant knot-burying. Getting this quilt done is my priority just now, as I can’t use my cutting table for other things while I’m working on it.

Starting Row 15

And Delft? I have made a bunch more flowers, some with scraps and some with my new yardage. it’s clear to me I’m going to need a LOT more dark blue fabric; those hexie flowers munch it up fast, whilst the paler separator hexies are comparative fewer. I should have bought twice as much dark and half as much light!

A fistful more hexies

Oh dear. I have to go fabric shopping….

Nature notes and finger sticks

So, yes, another hodge-podge post.

First, the finger sticks. I have complained before, perhaps tediously, about ramming the blunt end of my needle into my fingers when hand quilting. Also when stitching hexies, come to that, but primarily quilting. People helpfully suggested protective options, and I decided upon silicone gel finger-cots. They don’t fully protect against sticks, but they slow things down, protect against excessive callus formation, and are slightly tacky, assisting with pulling a fine needle through many layers of fabric. So far, so good. Also, they were cheap, and I got a packet of 10, two for each size of finger! I have also discovered that if you’re wearing a band aid and need to get your hands wet, they’ll stop the water getting to the band aid. So, not a bad use of about $8…

And then there’s the stealthy approach of spring in North Queensland. Not really noticeable yet in terms of climate, but there are big fat buds on my scarlet hippeastrums, the brunfelsia is flowering with delicious sweetness you can smell all around the back yard, the azalea is in full triumphant pink shout, the gerberas are showing cheerful faces and the orchids growing on the trunk of the callistemon and elsewhere are in flower. Another stem of little sugar bananas is very slowly filling out with the slightly warmer temperatures, so I’ll have the whole issue of what to do with them all over again.

Also, Mr Sunbird is out and about, doing a recce for nesting sites. I’m using the front porch a fair bit because the daytime temperature is so nice just now, so I don’t believe he’ll try nest-building operations right there, outside the big window, but an old nest is still hanging outside the back door, so maybe he’ll do a reno instead of a new build!

Today, I’m going back to Saturday morning Days for Girls sessions for the first time in a few months. The last DfG quilt made $700 and went to the son of the lady to whom I dedicated it, who was so helpful to me in providing neatly trimmed out DfG scraps, and was so kind to everyone. It’s time to start cutting scraps for the next DfG quilt, and I believe I have a plan in mind, not just “slam a bunch of squares together and hope it works”, this time. The fact that it always did work is serendipity, not skill.

And that’s it for today!

ScrapHappy September

Welcome once again to ScrapHappy Day!

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

I’m in the midst of hand quilting Anemone, so was reluctant to start another biggish project which would need the same cutting table I’m currently working on. So instead, I’ve made more scrappy hexie flowers for the blue and pink (as yet unnamed) hexie quilt I started on holiday. These flowers are truly scrappy, being made from an assortment of dark blue leftovers, and the pink gingham centres are leftovers from the most recent Days for Girls quilt. The papers themselves are on their third re-use, so I think that probably counts too…

So, not a very impressive showing, not like last month, but it’s representative of the time I was able to divert to it this month. Next month may indeed be more of the same, I’m only about 12% of the way through the hand quilting, but seem to be able to get 2-3 rows done a day. Maybe, just maybe, there may be scrappy coat progress next time. I make no promises…

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful 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 on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making 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. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

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). This is an updated list, so ScrapHappy members, please check it against the one you post. And a warm welcome to our newest member, Nóilin!

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, Nóilin and Viv

Fast, and too fast

First, the fast.

Well, they make quite a big piece.

Considering this is the idle handwork of a 2 week holiday, that’s quite the size, wouldn’t you say? It’s not like I was doing it all day, every day, but once I get started it’s virtually automatic and I don’t have to pay attention. I need to start cutting into that new piece of blue fabric, and also make a start on some of the more scrappy pieces I have. There are two scrappy flowers in this layout so far, where each petal of the flower is a different fabric, but a few more will leaven the mix. I also need more pink hexies for the flower hearts; currently I only have gingham ones and I feel the need for more variety. I also have a few scraps for the lighter blue divider hexies, so I should probably get those made up and tidied away.

And now, the too fast.

Before we went away, I hung a stem of Ducasse, or sugar, bananas up in the garage to ripen slowly. You pick them when they have filled out, but are not yet yellow, and hang them somewhere cool. They ripen slowly and out of the reach of fruit bats and birds, and you can cut off a hand at a time.

Well, the weather has turned warm, the garage is warmer and the little bananas are ripening fast. So I’m offering them left and right to the neighbours. But we’ll still end up with too many to keep up with, even if I have peanut butter and banana sandwiches for lunch every day for a month and send the Husband to work with them.

What’s worse is that there’s a whole other stem out there, which hasn’t yet filled out but which will surely follow suit now that the temperatures are rising. I shall have to make large batches of banana bread and freeze them. I find dried banana too sweet.  Anyone out there have a tasty recipe for something other than banana bread/muffins which will help me use up my unmanageable excess?

Oh, the hardship of life in the tropics…

Blue hexies: evidence of industry

The rain was good for something, after all.

I have 40 hexie flowers made, as well as a bag full of ‘intermediate’ hexies to place between the individual flowers. That’s… rather a lot of work! But I enjoyed it, it gave my hands something to do while I listened to talking books, or YouTube or music.I’ll probably carry on cranking them out when I get home, having got so far ahead these past few days. One thing past experience has taught me, though, is that I need to start assembling too, not just making the flowers. Otherwise the exercise becomes hugely intimidating. Make up blocks, stitch the blocks together, remove the papers, press. If I stick to that routine, it won’t be nearly so discouraging to look at once it starts to grow!

We’re heading home tomorrow. An early start should see us on the road by 9.30am at the latest, and we should have a fairly straightforward run to get back. I’ve made sure there isn’t a laundry mountain to tackle, but we’ll need some groceries, and Mouse will need a while testing out all his beds to see which one he wants to sleep in after being ‘forced’ to occupy just the one bunk while we were away!

When I get back, it’ll be time to choose which of the many projects swirling around in my head I’m going to make a start on.


Always with the blues

It’s a bit of a problem, sometimes.

I can’t resist dark blues. And now that I’ve started these hexies, I see lovely fabrics everywhere.

So… I had a fat quarter of a dark blue and cream tiny floral stripe pattern. I say had; it’s a pile of hexies now. But if this was going to turn into anything useful, I was going to need more. So I paid a visit to Cairns Creative and bought half a metre of a really nice dark blue tiny print, and also a dark blue and white Aboriginal meander pattern which will work with the blue and white lawn print I’m  using for the intermediate hexies in the layout. You’ll see what I’m talking about when I start to lay things out.

And of course while I was there I had a poke through their remnants basket and found this beauty!

Eden, by Sally Kelly

It’s the same fabric as some of the scraps I got when I visited Amitié Textiles in Victoria. The scraps I plan on using to make a patchwork coat. I loved the fabric so much I recognised a small corner of it halfway down the basket, and dived for it. It’s so lovely I can almost, almost not bear to cut into it. I may have to turn it into a large panel on the back of the coat, say, so that I don’t have to cut it too much.

But that’s for the future. First, more hexies, and sadly, the end of the holiday is upon us. Two more nights away, and then it’ll be time to start unpacking, cleaning and doing laundry.

Welllll, when you put it like that, I really deserve some lovely fabric, don’t you think?

A hex of a lot…

I just couldn’t stop myself.

I needed holiday hand work. Well, in my case that’s usually hexies. I didn’t have a hexie project on the go, and rather than come up with something different as an alternative, I grabbed a bag of papers, a small sewing kit, poked around in my scraps and an idea emerged. We all know I have a weakness for dark blue. But I also happened to have quite a few bits of soft pink.

And there were also the blue and white scraps of lawn from the backing of Anemone. I expect they’ll have to be supplemented, but I’ll see how far the supply takes me.

And on this holiday it has rained. And rained. And rained. So instead of haring off on various activities and adventures, the three of us have hunkered down, listened to books, eaten snacks, watched YouTube, snoozed (not just the dog, I might add), and in my case, stitched hexies. Many, many hexies. The picture below is just the ones I’ve made up into flowers. The rest are still in a bulging bag of blue – with a bit of pink.

Sorry about the poor lighting. I don’t carry decent lights in the caravan and it’s very grey outside, so this was the best I could manage.

I don’t know where this is going yet, but I’m feeling a back-of-my-chair quilt or similar size, and I’ll be stitching the outer edge down onto a straight border rather than taking the hexies out to the edge or facing the edge as I’ve done with Anemone.

Still, that’s all a loooooong way off. A hex of a long way off.

Anemone: 7 rows done

It may be time for a day off.

Not because I’m bored, or not enjoying this, but because I need to let my fingers heal. The calluses haven’t re-formed yet, and the needle sticks have become small but painful wounds due to the repeated damage in the same place. I’ve anointed them with spray bandage to keep them closed, since the stick-on kind is a pain in the backside on the tips of fingers. It may be enough to let me carry on working, but somehow I think it may be time to give my body a chance to heal itself without interference.

This is what most people would call big-stitch quilting. I do want to finish it this side of Christmas, which is why I’m not going for smaller stitches. Life is just too short, and I do very much like the soft texture I get with this clamshell shape and size of quilting. I also like the pink thread; it was a toss up whether I’d use white, grey or pink, but I’m happy with the decision to with colour – of course!

I’ve calculated this quilt is going to need at least 50 rows of clamshell stitching. I’m 7 rows down, so making decent progress. I haven’t quite got to the quilt-like-a-machine stage where I load x needles with x length of thread at the start of each row, but by row 20 I’ll probably be there… Making exactly the right size of knot at the start of each thread so that it’s still small enough to bury but too large to pull out, and the trick of forming and pulling down the knot to bury at the end of each thread is a skill you don’t forget after your first queen-sized hand quilted project!

Now let’s see if I can resist Anemone’s siren call….