Here we go again…

It’s that time of year in the tropics.

Well, to be strictly accurate, it’s rather late in the year for this sort of thing. I’m talking about Tropical Cyclones. But yes, we’re on alert again. There’s already an active system off the coast of Western Australia, Tropical Cyclone Caleb. So if ours develops, it’ll probably begin with D…

image © Accuweather

This is what the low pressure system off our coast is currently looking like. It’s not yet an official Tropical Low, the stage before Tropical Cyclone. Yet. However, Higgins Stormchaser reckons we’ve got a 75% chance of the thing converting to something nasty by Sunday.

If you want to read more on this story, go here. Higgins Stormchaser have an excellent record of accurate reporting, photographing and predicting some of our more energetic weather events. The coastal strip between Cairns and Mackay is involved, and although the Bureau of Meteorology hasn’t yet issued the official warning, we’re paying close attention, and I’ll be hooking up the caravan to power and firing up the ‘van fridge tomorrow in case we lose power in the house and have to transfer food to the ‘van fridge, which can run on LPG, or propane. Time also to hit the supermarket and lay in some groceries and emergency supplies, fill some water jerrycans, etc. Last time this happened, the cyclone reached Category 5, and was 150km off our coast, and then it abruptly turned left and made landfall just north of Rockhampton instead.

I hadn’t counted on babysitting the Dowager’s cat during a major weather event, but she’ll just have to put up with it. She’s vocal enough at the best of times, but I’m really not looking forward to the incessant yowling and complaining because she can’t go out…

If you could cross your fingers that the low either deteriorates or passes north or south of us, that would be appreciated. I’d rather the former; that way no-one gets clobbered.

On a roll with a roll

I’ve found a small and gentle job on which to reintroduce my squished finger to sewing.

It’s a crochet hook roll for Alys at Gardening Nirvana, a thank you gift for sending me some jumbo crochet hooks from the US, sizes I couldn’t get here. It all started when I was making the chunky denim yarn mat to put in Miz Lizzie, and now that I’m making another mat with ‘plarn’ (plastic bag yarn), the big hooks have come in very useful.

Having very recently sorted my scraps into usable colour order, I was able to dip straight in and select suitable strips in her favoured colours of blue, green and purple. Alys is just starting out with crochet and doesn’t have a huge hook collection (yet!) but I’m sure that if her enthusiasm takes off there will be many more, so I’ve tried to allow for a couple of hooks in several sizes from weeny to big and chunky. There’s also a slot for a small pair of scissors. Fortunately I also had scrap batting in roughly the right size too, so the project came together quickly and easily. The binding around the edge is identical to what I use for quilts, but half an inch narrower for a tidier effect. I’m rather pleased with the whole thing.

The process is pretty simple – I didn’t think about doing it as a tutorial till it was finished, and too late, so sorry about the lack of photos. Hopefully it’s fairly self-explanatory:

  • Make a piece of fabric up using scrap strips, or use whole cloth if you prefer. Make a lining piece or again, use whole cloth. Trim a 1 inch strip off the outer fabric – you’ll need this later. Trim everything so it’s square and straight, and spray baste together in a sandwich with batting in the middle.
  • Make or cut a piece of fabric to form the inner pocket for the hooks. It needs to be at least 3 inches shorter than the roll itself. Bind the top edge of this with the 1 inch strip you cut off the outer fabric, and topstitch down. Lay the pocket piece down onto the inside of the sandwiched fabrics. Pin the left and right edge in place.
  • Take a ruler and quilt marker, and mark out pockets for the scissors and crochet hooks, up and down the full height of the tool roll, from the bottom of the pocket, across the binding and onto the lining fabric. Ensure you create pockets of a variety of sizes.
  • Quilt the lines you have marked through all layers, including the pocket. Trim out the roll to get rid of uneven edges and any threads. Cut a 2 inch wide strip of binding fabric the circumference of the roll plus a few extra inches. Press it in half along its length.
  • Bind the roll with this narrow binding. (I’ve done a binding tutorial elsewhere, which you can find here) I hand-stitched down the inside edge rather than the outer one as I felt this would be more durable. Stitch on a button loop or piece of elastic to the centre of the right hand outer edge. Stitch a button to the approximate vertical and horizontal centre of the outside of the roll. You may need to move it slightly left or right to accommodate something inside, so test with tools in the roll before you finalise the button position.
  • Put tools into roll. Roll up into three sections and secure with button. You’re done!

Now that I know the finger’s up to sewing, I’ll be returning to the projects in hand. It’s time to get quilting on a couple of things, including making a start on the TWX blocks

ROYGBIV and a couple more

…. I don’t think the rainbow normally features teal, pink, black, white, beige, grey or brown.

The scrap tangle is conquered! We are down to manageable proportions, and the boxes, baskets and buckets are all sorted. I had to add a box for brown (a colour that does not generally please me much) because I had an unaccountably large number of brown scraps. Who knew? I shall have to find a way to use these not so lovely fragments. The beiges and greys, cream, black and white in another box, and then finally, the rampant individualists, who refuse to be categorised and are too multicoloured to go anywhere else.

After the browns, that last box is going to the most challenging to use up, the special needs scraps which won’t fit just anywhere, being too quirky, too bright, too complex. There aren’t too many scraps that defied sorting, luckily. I shall try and regard them as the leaven in my scrappy dough, the ping of colour that lifts what might otherwise be just… OK.

A rainbow scrappy quilt is now on the horizon. A scrappy block a month isn’t a big ask, and I’ll just let it grow till I think it’s time to stop or I start repeating myself – or indeed, I run out of scraps in that colour. Grab a box, sew some pieces together, trim to size, job done. And then we’ll see how many scraps are left! It’ll have the virtue of dealing with the very smallest bits (because obviously I’ll make a point of using those), leaving me with the more versatile larger pieces which almost attain the status of ‘fabric’ rather than ‘scrap’. I’m not abandoning the Anemone scrappy quilt, but it’s a different kind of project, and doesn’t eat up these smaller scraps.

Not looking forward one little bit to the pressing and trimming bit that comes next, no sir… On the upside, the Bird finger is on the mend 🙂

Scrap Blindness

OK, well, the idea was to find a project that wouldn’t need nimble fingers, because Bird.

We’ve been talking about scraps, the care and management of. As I’ve confessed on more than one occasion, mine are like unruly children: they leave a mess everywhere, they’re into everything, they spread out of their allocated space and they darn well keep on growing. I have an uncanny ability to  ignore this growing problem and a deep-seated reluctance to address it. My current inability to sew seemed a perfect opportunity to bring about a bit of order without having to feel guilty/ tempted by a sewing project, because I can’t do that yet, but pulling scraps out of boxes and buckets, no problem.

Here’s only about 50% of the problem. Now, my classification of a scrap is anything smaller than about 3 inches square. Bigger than that, it’s fabric. Usable. It gets put away into my stash, without fail. So, these boxes, baskets and buckets are full of really small bits. Some of them tiny bits. There are one or two garments in mid-deconstruction, being  harvested for the fabric. The only way to bring this lot under control was to arm myself with some plastic bags from my dwindling supply, tip out one of the boxes and get sorting.

My brain seizes on colour first, rather than size, pattern or any other form of organisation. So that’s how I’m approaching the problem. The blue bag is done. There isn’t a scrap of blue left in any of those boxes. So are the aqua/teal and green bags. I’ve actually emptied enough of the boxes to transfer these colours back into them so I can see what’s there more easily than in a nasty grey plastic bag. Next will be yellow/ orange, then red, then pink, then purple, neutrals/black/white and finally all the multicoloured stuff that doesn’t have a strong lead colour. I thought about trying to sort all the colours at once but it didn’t work, I kept getting distracted.

Once they’re all done, I shall sort the individual box contents so they’re sorted, pressed and trimmed, tidy and colour-coded and ready for use. This is how it looks after the blue, teal and green were extracted from the overall mess.

There’s still a long way to go… I wonder how far I’ll get before I lose the will to live get bored.

Flippin’ the Bird

I don’t claim to be ladylike, exactly, but I don’t indulge in unseemly gestures much.

Which makes it doubly annoying that I’m now in a permanent state of social disrespect with my middle finger. For those of a squeamish disposition, suffice it to say that I have injured the longest finger on my right hand, and it’s now splinted so I can’t easily bend it. Hence the Bird effect.

For those who enjoy the odd “eeeuwww!” moment, read on.

I had to go to the courthouse today to get myself excused from jury service for the third time in as many years. (I’m not a shirker, I did jury service 4 years ago, but my name seems to come up with monotonous regularity every year, and in a population of over 80,000 in the greater Mackay area, I feel it’s statistically dubious, so I get excused.) Anyway, I had my left hand full of papers, and the car door swung shut fast, because the car was parked at a downhill angle. My right hand didn’t make it out in time…

Lots of swearing and scrabbling futilely at the door later, I managed to get it to release my mangled finger. Fast forward through my court-house errand, where the clerk took one look and told me to take my wounded paw to hospital, and signed all the forms for me. Half an hour’s wait at the Emergency department with the purple digit in a cup of ice and three tablets of pain relief, and I emerged with an annoying aluminium splint and some rather vivid and lumpy bruising, but no breaks. It seems I have an unerring talent for damaging myself in painful but not excessively serious ways.

Typing takes ages, writing is difficult, and sewing by machine or hand is out for the next few days. Just as I thought I might catch up on my slipping deadlines. Bummer… 

ScrapHappy March

Time for more ScrapHappiness 🙂

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 done something completely different. I’ve had very little time for the Anemone hexies, and have thrown together a scrappy block selected from a handful scooped out of my most recent scrap bucket. I have many teal scraps (big surprise there!), and this is going to be one of the final TWX blocks, a good use for them, I feel.

I say ‘most recent’ because I have multiple scrap buckets, and have added to my ever-growing To Do list a plan for a serious scrap manage-ment session once I’ve got a couple of projects out of the way. I’ll start by sorting them into colours, which seems the simplest plan of attack, followed by cutting them into useful sizes, and if not big enough to cut to a useful piece, I’ll sew them into one of these random blocks again.

I’m never going to be the kind of person who cuts to size and files away the minute I create a scrap, but if there’s a system going (apart from ‘toss it in the bucket’), I’ll try and use it. Try. I make no promises 😉 When you’re going with the flow, who has time to cut her scraps into tidy shapes?

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 some-thing 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)

Deb: https://abearsthimble.wordpress.com/ (in English only)

See you again, same time next month!

Oh……rats!

I do hate wasting time and effort.

Quilters will look at this photo and quickly understand what I’m talking about. Yup, I’d pin basted the whole thing before I noticed*.

I spent a solid 15 minutes trying to think of ways to avoid unpinning it all and doing it all over again. I couldn’t think of a satisfactory solution, especially as this my Secret Sewing, a bonus quilt which will be donated to Ovarian Cancer Australia once it’s done and the finalised pattern has been revealed by Teresa at Sewn Up. I’m just not OK about a very obvious fix-up on the back. So I unpinned the whole thing, gnashing my teeth as I went, and rearranged things and pinned it all. Again.

It’s OK this time, I’ve checked. Three times, to be exact.

Still, it’s down off the design wall, it’s ready to quilt, and that means I’ve been able to put up and arrange all the TWX blocks I have so far. Three still needed, two on their way from Margaret at The Crafty Creek. Once I have those, I’ll make the final one, and then I can start sandwiching and quilting the blocks.

And once that’s done, I’ll be able to spend some quality time on Miz Lizzie and her interior décor 🙂

*For the non-quilters, I’d laid out the backing of the quilt back to front, so the seams were on the outside… duh. In mitigation of my folly, this is the first time I’ve ever done it in over 10 years of quilting.