Worldwide Friends: Crossing the final frontier

It’s done. Which is good, because I’m so ready for something new.

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The only straight shot that was usable on the windiest day this year!

It’s taken almost exactly seven months (a few days under – I started it on 10th November last year). It began as a piece of busy-work to keep my hands occupied and my mind peaceful when I went into hospital last year for a spot of surgery. It’s grown out of all recognition, well beyond my original idea for the piece, and has taken on a life of its own, becoming virtually common property amongst the worldwide friends who have contributed fabric, poetry, encouragement and vision. The Mackay Show deadline seemed like a good idea at the time, something so far away that it was easily achievable. But as always, time ran away with me and I’ve only just squeaked in, after subjecting myself to the sort of pressure I don’t really enjoy.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 11.09.00 amDon’t ask me how many hexies it contains, because I don’t know, and I’m not going to count them. In any case, the answer to that question is “enough”. Here’s some detail:

This quilt is the result of a collaboration between myself and blogging friends around the world. The design was triggered by Carla’s gift of an indigo furoshiki, or gift-wrapping cloth from Japan, which featured rabbits, waves and the moon. According to Japanese legend, the figure seen in the full moon is not a man, but a rabbit, who was placed there by a holy man in return for an act of kindness. This beautiful cloth gave the rest of the quilt its Japanese flavour and the name of the quilt is written in Kanji characters across the middle, which translates to Worldwide Friends. On the back are haiku in English about both quilt-making and the rabbit legend, some written by fabric donors, others by non-quilting friends in lieu of fabric. Many of the indigo fabrics are Japanese, others are from Indonesia, India and Africa as well as Europe, the US and Australia.

Techniques used
Front: English Paper Piecing, hand appliqué
Back: Machine piecing, English Paper Piecing, hand appliqué
Hand painted calligraphy on front in gold resist medium
Handwritten calligraphy of haiku on back panels in ink
Lightly hand quilted in ‘big stitch’ quilting to stabilise layers only
The quilt is faced with hexagons on the reverse rather than bound, to retain the hexagon shapes at the edge.
Hanging tabs are integrated into the top seam, as this is a wall hanging
The quilt is effectively double-sided, allowing it to be turned to display the haiku on the reverse.

The Worldwide Friends:
Carla, Australia
Tracey, Australia
Nanette, Australia
Dale, Australia
Rita, Belgium
Jan, Wales
Lynn, France
Viv, France
Gun, Sweden
Cath, USA
Sue, USA
Esther, Netherlands
Emmely, Netherlands
Jule, Germany
Annett, Germany
Carole, UK
Kirsten, UK

This quilt is now, at last, ready for entry into the Mackay Show on 25 June, and I am so ready to start another project!  My first priority is to produce the three blocks I’m making each month as part of the Foot2Freestyle block swap. After that, I have a birthday quilt to make for mid-October, a large bed quilt to make for my niece to celebrate her marriage (already late, but she forgives me), and then, finally, I’m free to choose. The list of candidates is considerable…

But first, a day off… maybe.

Worldwide Friends: unpicking time…

The piecing on the centrepiece is finished.

Screen shot 2014-12-16 at 6.22.15 PMThe nice thing about this appliqué is that the edges are already turned under and crisp, so all I needed to do was keep my stitches suitably tiny and hopefully invisible. It’s also nice to be able to get rid of all the pins, which seemed to be magnetically attracted to my hands by the pointy end…

Screen shot 2014-12-16 at 6.22.36 PMNow I need to press it very carefully, and then I have some happy hours to spend removing paper templates and thread so I can start turning out more flowers and fillers. I’ve almost finished my existing stock of several hundred, mainly because I have a large pile of mostly black hexies sitting in a box waiting for me to decide to do something with them. I will at some stage, but meanwhile they’re using up my stock of papers…

My pile of Friendship Fabrics is growing, and I’ll have to work fast to keep up!

Indigo… and back again

It’s been a bit of a rough week.

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Lovely colours and designs… The Japanese have a genius for prints.

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I didn’t have any good lighting with me. The blues look too green, and the red’s washed out, but you get the idea….

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There’s 8 flowers in this shot, but I’ve now got 12 finished to add to the 6 at home. And loads more hexies to go…

Nothing turned out quite as planned, but the surgery is over, was successful and I’m on the mend, if rather spectacularly bruised. Luckily the Bride of Frankenstein appearance will settle down and disappear… The travel sewing kit was invaluable; I have churned out more hexies than I thought possible. The cut pieces I took with me were used up by the third day. I bought two more quarter yards of beautiful indigo fabrics in the quilt shop in the small country town where my sister lives, and where I have been recuperating. Already one of the three additional fat quarters I brought with me is used up, and all the red is gone.

I think that on this trip it wasn’t so much that making hexies is compulsive (which it is!) but that the small movements needed for stitching them together don’t hurt me, it doesn’t require my anaesthetic-addled brain to concentrate too much, and if I fall asleep unexpectedly it’s not a drama, unlike using a sewing machine!

While in hospital my little sewing kit attracted the attention of two keen-quilter nurses, who took time out to chat, admire, ask about the tutorial for it and talk about this blog. Two more new friends, courtesy of my quilting habit…

Slowly, the way this quilt is going to look is evolving in my mind as I stitch. Of course, what I envisage may not work quite as I hope, but it’s a direction, a start. It’s not going to be a particularly traditional use of hexies, but I hope it will look good. In any case, there’s no hurry. This one isn’t due for any anniversaries, trips or birthdays. It’s busywork for idle hands. If the MRI scans are anything to go by, there will be a little needlework for my orthopaedic surgeon too, some time in the foreseeable future too, so I can hope for more sewing time, o joy. Luckily I wouldn’t have to travel so far for this one…

The Husband has arrived after his long dash south. It’s lovely to have him around again; this is the longest time we’ve been separated since we were married, and neither of us has enjoyed it much. I miss my garden, my own bed and my breezy tropical house. It’s been very hot here, which is a bit trying when you’re postoperative. Never mind, I’ll be home soon, and we have the pleasure of two blogging friends to visit along the way.

Now, how much quilt can I get out of this lot and the six flowers I have at home…?

Indigo a go go

OK, on Monday, I jump on a plane and go 1200kms to get surgery.

I have a half day journey, lots of hanging around airports, hanging around the surgeon’s office, hanging around the patient accommodation the night before, hanging around waiting to go down to theatre. And as I’ve recently demonstrated to myself, keeping my hands busy is a great antidote to stress, worry, impatience and boredom. So I’ve brought forward a project I’ve been planning for a while. It should have been Steampunk, but there are too many tiny pieces to lose, and I need a table to lay things out on so I can keep track of where I am. Not a good travel project…

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The hexies I’ve made so far from the fabrics in my scrap collection, and the new uncut ones on the left.

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Furoshiki with carp

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Furoshiki with gambolling hares and the moon

I adore indigo, that most intense and lavishly blue of dyes. I especially love batiks and Japanese fabrics, and have been accumulating them here and there over the past few years. And recently, the lovely and generous Carla of Granny Maud’s Girl brought me back some fabrics and two furoshiki from Japan. The furoshiki are traditional gift-wrapping cloths, and one of them will feature somewhere on the indigo quilt which is brewing in the back of my mind.

Now it’s time to take the rotary cutter to my fabrics. And it’s going to be an EPP hexie project because that’s portable, because I can crank them out at speed, and because I love the combination of indigo and red, so it’s indigo flowers with red hearts. I have no idea what it’s going to be, or how big, or how long it will take, but it’s going to keep my hands busy and my mind and heart peaceful before, during and after my hospital stay.

And best of, I can carry it around in my new travel sewing kit!

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…?