The Tree of Life 19: There are waves now

I have spent most of the day hand quilting.

It’s time to stop, I’m getting tired, my fingers are stiff and sore and I’m beginning to draw blood with monotonous regularity.  But I have finished the ripply lines for the sea in the lower half of the quilt.  I’m pleased with how it looks.  Tomorrow, I will do the sky. And then, then, my friends, I’ll be done.  All that will be left is the binding, putting in a hanging channel on the back, and labelling it.  There will be major gloating and whoopeeing.  I will take a nice photo of it hanging on the line (assuming the weather obliges, which seems likely), stick it in my archive, maybe stick it on my spanking new Pinterest quilts board, and then breathe a sigh of relief.

Meanwhile, some detail shots to whet your appetite.  It’s been a toss-up about whether to include these, as they do rather expose the defects in my work. On the other hand, if I can’t be candid with my blogging community, there’s no hope! I mean, is any of you seriously going to send round the stitch police?

Birds detail

Birds detail

Flower detail

Flower detail

Fish detail 1

Fish detail 1

Fish 2 detail

Fish 2 detail

While I was out briefly this afternoon on a rather fruitless errand, I passed our local op shop (known to non Aussies as a thrift or charity shop). I scored a nice pink basket handbag, but I also found these rather smashing ties.  They are just begging to be picked apart and turned into something handsome: a cushion, maybe?  I like how they are already slightly patchworky in appearance, which is essentially what caught my eye.

Ties

Ties

And now, some of you have been having a look at my new Pinterest boards.  For those who wanted a look but haven’t been able to find me, and were offered options along the lines of Pasta, Corgis, Holidays, Sneakers and other bizarreness, here’s the link:   http://www.pinterest.com/katechiconi. I’m not altogether clear why my user name, which is the usual talltalesfromchiconia, won’t produce anything in a search, but there you are.

And while I watch TV tonight, I’m going to add a few more inches to the Woolly Thing, which may itself be ready for an unveiling in a month or two!

Right, off to make the Husband, who’s had a bad day, something delicious and unhealthy for his supper.

Tree of Life part 7: Denizens of the Deep

Or in slightly less posh terms, Fish.  They’re done, all 4 of them.

Yesterday's fish

Yesterday’s fish

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Today’s fish

Today's fish, detail

Today’s fish, detail

In position on the background

In position on the background

In a week where I’ve also done some fairly heavy lifting in the garden, laid a load of new patio paving (see my previous post), bought, written and posted the Christmas cards for both of our very extended families, baked pies, made cheesecake, soup and bread, and hung the solar fairy lights in the patio, I’m congratulating myself at getting any more work done on this quilt at all.  It was fiddly, and now it’s done.

Next step is to start strip piecing various shades of brown, beige, rust and olive for the trunk of the tree and branches, which is going to look much, much nicer than a flat solid colour.  Once that’s done, I have to (important drum roll, please) make the tree template.  Oh help… I’ve got a dreadful feeling I’m going to end  up cutting up my design drawing into squares which represent the background 9 blocks, and literally drawing onto each square of the background the lines of the tree branches. Then I’d have to trace off that to make a paper template to lay over the strip pieced tree trunk fabric.  Anyone out there got any better suggestions, bearing in mind that I don’t have an enlarging photocopier?

At this point I’m feeling so intimidated by the sheer amount of work which still needs to be done that I can’t get enough distance on the problem to search logically and intelligently for a solution.

Anyway, enough whimpering. I sound like some wet creature who can’t cope with problems she created for herself!  I’m off to the kitchen to make fish laksa with a nice fresh Basa fillet.  The fish theme continues, apparently…

A little break…

I’m giving myself a night off from the Tree of Life quilt. Burnout threatens…

Well, it looks a bit Japanese, so I've chosen a suitable print

The fish looks a bit Japanese, so I’ve
chosen a suitable print

This print of Australian native flowers is just what I need here!

This print of Australian native flowers is just what I need here!

The fish fabrics are selected, and I need to have a think about how I’m going to use them. I can keep it simple, and make my life easy, or make it complicated, and make them gorgeous. Given the amount of work gorgeous will take, I think on the whole simple is going to win. But either way, I have to piece together some tricky shapes. I’ve reached the stage where I have to start doing really, really fiddly stuff, and I’ve been at work all day, and I’m a bit tired.

The Car Quilt so far

The Car Quilt so far

Flowers waiting to be added

Flowers waiting to be added

Finished hexies waiting to be assembled

Finished hexies waiting to be assembled

Fabric squares waiting to be sewn onto the papers

Fabric squares waiting to be sewn onto the papers

So to avoid the absolute certainty of stuffing up something complicated because I’m too tired to think clearly, and too clumsy to handle delicate pieces, I’m having a short break from the master work!  I’m going to relax, have a nice meal, have a drink, watch some TV, and, because the world has not yet come to an end, do some sewing… Of the Car Quilt hand sewn variety, which I can churn out without any direct intervention on the part of my brain.

It’s all hands and eyes. I can watch TV at the same time, have a conversation, answer the phone, and still those little hexagons keep coming, and still they magically turn into flowers at the end of the evening. I can ring the changes, too. I have some papers and squares of fabric. I have some hexagons already sewn to the papers. I have some flowers made up. So if one activity gets boring, I can move on to another. It’s soothing, satisfying, comforting, and above all, brainless! Just what I need tonight.

Now, where are those mince pies I made…?

The Tree of Life part 6: Sea Creatures

So, the red circle and the grass are now fully applied and finished. Time to turn my attention to the population of the Sea and Sky.

(Click on any image to enlarge)

Finishing the red circle,with the grass appliqued down

Finishing the red circle, with
the grass appliqued down

I’m happy with how the red tape has gone down. No baggy, saggy bits, no gaping.  It’s good stuff. I’ve also done a colour fastness test (not a moment too soon, but I got away with it this time), and it doesn’t bleed red in either hot or cold, plain or soapy water, it doesn’t transfer red when rubbed on a white cloth, and I’m happy it’ll behave itself in a cool, short wash.  Ideally, this isn’t going to be the kind of quilt that gets washed too often. I know it was intended to snuggle under in the nasty  English winter, but as many of you have pointed out, it’s going to be a labour of love and should perhaps be displayed instead?  Ah well, it’s a 60th birthday gift for my brother, and he will accord it the value he perceives…  But I WILL be sewing a pocket on the back to put a rod through so it can be hung on the wall.

Fish for the left side

Fish for the left side

Fish for the right side

Fish for the right side

I’m starting with the fish.  They will swim to left and right, outside the circle, in the darker blue area of Sea at the bottom.  I’m not doing static, side-on, stylised fish, I’m going to try for movement, sinuousness and gorgeous colour.  The full-scale templates are done, so the next step will be sewing these babies together, and then applying them.  It’s kind of making me hanker for iridescent thread, but I don’t want this quilt getting too glitzy, so I’ll be satisfying myself with using fabrics with a metallic print, so the fish catch the light.  Originally I was thinking flat colour, but the lure of strip piecing together a rainbow of shades is proving hard to resist….  I’ll have to see how much extra work it’ll make.

A brand new flower on the red hibiscus, and there are more buds coming through

A brand new flower on the red hibiscus,
and there are more buds coming through

Three flowers on the Peace Lily

Three flowers on the Peace Lily

Flowers on the bugle

Flowers on the bugle, tiny
blue ones on the runner at top left

For those more interested in gardening, I have a few new flowers to report. The new Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is proving to be an outstanding performer: geranium red flower against pale green and white variegated foliage. The Spathyphyllum (Peace Lily) is flowering, a good effort, and the Ajuga reptans (Bugle) is sending out runners like mad, one of which has just produced a tiny, tiny blue flower.

I’m impressed with the performance going on out there, and continue to be amazed at how fast stuff grows here! Perhaps in a few years I’ll have become blasé, but for now, I love it!  Except for the grasshoppers, who are currently decimating the new leaf growth on the lemon tree. I ruffle the leaves every time I pass it, and at least 5 of the little bastards leap away. They’re tiny, about a centimetre long, but the damage they do is very noticeable, and can’t be fun for the lemon.

Tomorrow I’m going to make a GF lemon cheesecake, and will post the recipe. It’s pretty foolproof, and disappears fast.

The Tree of Life, Part 1: planning

I’m in the planning stage for what may be perhaps the second most complicated and labour-intensive quilt of my life (for the most labour intensive, see https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/chiconian-quilts and scroll down to My heirloom quilt).

I promised my brother a lap quilt.  I asked him what sort of colours he’d like, and what sort of design.  I got all sorts of visual source material… He wants a Tree of Life, something that speaks of the beauty of creation. He wants branches, trunk, roots, leaves, fruit, flowers. He wants sea and sky, birds and fishes.

Oh. Um…

I’d envisaged a fairly easily assembled  lap quilt with a clean, modern colour scheme.  He has a fairly limited notion of the technical limitations of patchwork and quilting, but a fairly clear notion of what he wants. We now have an agreed design. I just have to make the thing. Somehow…

The Tree of Life design. Copyright 2013 Kate Chiconi (in the unlikely event someone else wants to put themselves through it...)

The Tree of Life design.
Copyright 2013 Kate Chiconi
(in the unlikely event someone else
wants to put themselves through it…)

So, here’s how it’s going to look. The entire background is going to be made up of 3.5″ squares, and everything else will be appliqued on.  It will graduate from deepest blue at the bottom up through various other blue shades to turquoise at the halfway point. After that it will go from pale, palest blue up to the blue of a summer sky. Fish will swim in the bottom half, and birds fly in the top half.  The tree will be contained by a circular frame which will have to be laid down as a bias strip applique, since piecing that curve and keeping it circular would be virtually impossible.  I will have to construct the tree in sections, and the leaves individually. The roots are going to be fun, too… I draw the line, however, at creating individual grapes for the bunches of grapes. The outline and some highlighting will have to suffice.  The flower petals, though, will have to be individual.

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Auditioning the sea and sky fabrics for the Tree of Life quilt

I haven’t even begun to consider the backing, or how it’ll be quilted.  At present, I’m auditioning and assembling blues and turquoises for the background.  Once I’ve got the whole background pieced, the fun will start, but it’ll be easier working to scale than trying to envisage it from a small drawing.  I’ve tried scaling up, but it becomes a dreadful mess of graph paper, sticky tape and things not quite lining up.  So I’ll address that problem once I have a full size background I can stand back from and squint at.

For those of you who believe in the power of prayer, a few wouldn’t go amiss. I’m going to need all the Divine intervention I can get if I’m to complete this thing with my sanity, patience and creative urge intact.  Having said that, though, won’t it be totally gorgeous when it’s done?

I’ll keep you posted on my progress, or perhaps (probably!) lack of it, as I go along.