The Tree of Life 16: no more excuses

The cyclone is over.  It was stronger than expected and closer than expected, but we came through unscathed.



Ready to pin

Ready to pin

Ready to quilt

Ready to quilt

So the Husband was off to work on schedule, and I was left to look at the ToL backing, batting and top, and completely fail to find a reason not to pin them together. I don’t enjoy the grovelling around on the floor. My knees and back are too old for this game. But it’s done, despite a visit from the Dowager with a birthday present, lots of conversation, making a batch of bickies and serving them with coffee and assorted other displacement activities. I’ve put all the furniture back and vacuumed the carpet and loaded the dishwasher and had lunch. Further displacement activities, you see, so that I don’t have to start actually quilting. And of course, there’s writing this blog…

Thank you to everyone who gave me their thoughts on how the quilting might look. It’s been very helpful in getting me to actually narrow down the list of possible options. It’s also amazing how much less stressed I feel about the quilt now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The first part of the quilting’s going to be pretty miserable, but after that, I can have a bit of fun with my clouds and water ripples. And I actually love binding and labelling, so that’s all good too.

I’m keeping those Amy Butler charm squares out on my work table to act as  a reminder/incentive/goad when the going gets tough.

OK, I’ve cleaned all the lint out of the bobbin race, replaced the needle with a new quilting needle and adjusted tension and stitch length. Time to get cracking.

I’m going in!

A tisket, a tasket, another storage basket

I’m having to conclude it’s a bit addictive…

Red basket, completed and already put to good use

Red basket, completed and already put to good use

The red one is done. And along the way, I wrote it up and took photos as a tutorial for a friend who wanted to know how to make one, as she’d seen mine on the blog.  So it took rather longer than normal.  Still to go: green, pink, neutral, black & white, and multicolour.  But first I’ll need some more batting scraps, as I’ve now finished up every bit I had.  Which means back to proper quilt making…

Next on the agenda is the quilt sandwich for the Triple Trouble quilts.  Batting, backing, and a decision about what to bind them with.  Not too hard.  But it will produce some nice scrap batting.

The bits completed so far. The front's nearly done, but there's plenty to do on the back panel...

The bits completed so far. The front’s nearly done, but there’s plenty to do on the back panel…

Pocket detail. I have to nip in the corners of the pockets with depth, to stop them sagging.

Pocket detail. I have to nip in the corners of the pockets with depth, to stop them sagging.

I spent a lot of time last night on the Survival Kit bag front. Until you sit down and analyse how to construct something like that, and realise that all sorts of things have to be sewn onto the front before you can sew that to the back, it seems like a simple thing to do. Not…. But anyway, here’s the work in progress.

I’m liking how it looks: the blue and white is nice and crisp, and the eagle eyed among you will notice that I’m recycling the scraps from the stripy handbag for the handles on this one.  I’m going to round off the corners slightly to make the zipper run a bit more smoothly (ah yes, the zipper, a problem still to be overcome). The Husband is already making noises about wanting one for himself, but with a kindle pocket instead of a sewing kit pocket, and not in that girly flowery fabric, please. I could do him a nice bright pink geometric… that’s not floral.  Snigger…. Anyway, I suspect shades of brown or green or neutrals, or maybe even grey and white will be the go.

It was rather a quiet night in Chiconia last night, and I spent it in the company of my various sewing projects. I could hear various  neighbours seeing in the New Year while I revved up the sewing machine. But on the whole, I ‘d rather be contentedly solitary than spending hours in the company of people I don’t know that well, talking about safe and trivial subjects and being offered drinks I don’t want and can’t have.  It’s just another night, and a slightly different number on the calendar.

I heard today from a friend that her sister-in-law, for whom I made the Sydney Swans quilt you can see in my Chiconian Quilts gallery, now wants a Bulldogs quilt too, in blue and white, complete with logo. She wants to know if I can do it. Well, sure, but when, is the burning question….

That’s it for today. More tomorrow.

The Gardens of Chiconia part 2

A mixed bag of gardening, worm farming and quilting today…  

Waved the Husband off the work, put the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher, and climbed into my gardening clothes.  I’ve been out there for two and a half hours, and it’s only 9.30am.  It’s getting hot, and the sun is swinging round into the area I was working in, so it’s time to retreat indoors.

The Tropical Garden is beginning to take shape after a hiatus. Today I turned over a few square metres of soil which has had compost on it for a week or so.  There was an earthworm in every forkful, a massive change from before, when the little wrigglers had all moved out due to compaction, waterlogging and nutrient leaching. The strategy is working!  I spread another 75kg of compost on a new area, putting in stepping stone so I wouldn’t compact it when I had to get to the vegie tubs. I planted a fairly advanced variegated shell ginger for quick impact, the brugmansia, a monstera deliciosa, a gardenia, a gorgeous black velvet-leaved alocasia, a peace lily, three more ginger rhizomes to come through over time, and another small murraya in a tub by the front door, to keep the lemon geranium, curry plant, stevia, sage and oregano company. (Notice the recurring theme of the front door pots?  All smell and/or taste good.)  They all have dark blue glazed pots and look very pretty.  I like the contrast in leaf colour from very dark green through acid green to silver.  Round the corner, the Desert Garden is looking lovely: the portulaca is growing like crazy and has lots of bright vermilion flowers.

The portulaca is flower for all it's worth, and just doesn't stop. The flowers close up at night.

The portulaca is flowering for all it’s worth, and just doesn’t stop. The flowers close up at night. The aloe has just started throwing out pups.

I have taken 2L of worm tea from the bottom of my worm farm. Considering this is used diluted 1:10, I’ve got plenty of fertilising material for the next couple of months!  It’s the first time I’ve stripped the liquid out, and I’m impressed with the work my little red wrigglers are doing in the short time they’ve been with us. They get all the kitchen and table scraps apart from onion and citrus.  We put the soft stuff through a blender with a dash of water, for a quick munch, and then cut up the harder scraps for longer term snacking. There’s rarely anything left. They like the contents of the vacuum cleaner and my hairbrush, the dust kittens that gather in the corners, old egg boxes and dead leaves, and are basically a wonder of nature. Every few weeks I have to renew their damp newspaper ‘roof’ because they’ve eaten most of the old one. They live in a high rise polystyrene foam box condominium with a lid. They’re old broccoli boxes, but don’t tell the worms. The bottom one collects the ‘tea’. The next one up has holes in the bottom to let the tea escape, and contains the worms, their living quarters, the latest meal, and the newspaper roof. Then there’s a lid on top of that, with airholes punched in. It lives in the garage in the cool and the dark, doesn’t smell and is clearly labelled so people take care around it. The Husband loves the wormies, and takes on the job of blitzing their food, cutting the hard stuff up and feeding them.

I’m going to retreat to my workroom and get stuck into my Morning Tea quilt again.  Today, it’s sewing down the fairy cakes fused onto the cake stand, the last job on the quilt top.  (For those of you on your first visit, take a look at Morning Tea at the the Quilting Bee from 27 September).  I now have the batting, binding and backing fabric for it, and the sandwiching process can begin.  This will consist of laying out the backing, wrong side up, on the floor.  On top of this will go the batting (wadding), which is needled cotton, so I can quilt fairly far apart if I want to.  On top of that goes the quilt top, right side up. Then you grovel around on hands and knees, pushing curved safety pins through all three layers at hand’s width intervals to hold everything securely together for quilting. Then you stop, let your back unkink, reward yourself with a large drink, and put off further action till another day.  Or that’s how it goes with me, anyway…