Effort and reward

Yesterday, we got a Tardis pothole.

By this, I mean it looked small and innocuous but was e.n.o.r.m.o.u.s underneath. The visible hole was about the size of my head. The erosion underneath was the size of a big truck tyre. The cause was erosion from below, where water flow over time had eaten away the rocks and road base surrounding the two huge concrete pipes that form the span of the causeway bridge over the flood drain at the front of our property. Suffice to say that we needed quick-set concrete, chicken wire reinforcement, rocks and crushed concrete roadbase to fix it. There was grovelling on our stomachs in the dirt, and digging, and getting wet and muddy, and shovelling rocks, and yes, you guessed it, a sore back. It was urgent, though, as the causeway bridge is our only way in and out of the property. We’re due a big blow and very wet weather tonight and tomorrow thanks to the former Tropical Cyclone Owen weather system, so we couldn’t leave it or we might have lost the whole bridge from more erosion as the drain fills and flows faster. But we got it done this morning, and we’ve made a good job of it.

And then after that, there was quilting another row of blocks on Go Teal it on the Mountain. I’m really loving how the quilting looks on all those beautiful mountain blocks. Once I’ve sandwiched the front, batting and backing together, I just put my 60° triangular ruler onto the block, apex at the centre top, and draw a single line bottom left to centre top and down again to bottom right. I quilt that in, and then all subsequent lines are done by running the edge of the walking foot 3/8 inch from the previous line. No measuring, no marking. Quick and easy.

And our reward for all this effort?

Steak for dinner, and these babies. Not my most elegant baking result, but the taste is what matters, wouldn’t you agree?

I’m going to get a lot of satisfaction driving over our bridge in future, knowing it’s full of rocks and concrete we put there ourselves, and is nice and solid 🙂

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ST&D: Lush!

I have four more blocks quilted.

I confess, I was a bit nervous about this one. I wasn’t sure how the Aida fabric would quilt up, compared with the softer quilting cotton fabrics. I was terrified of mucking it up, so I made a sample using the same fabric and quilted that. It seemed to be OK. There were a few small tracking marks where the new walking foot’s feed dogs had gripped onto the surface, but I though the result was pretty good. So I took a deep breath and got going.

It’s lovely. The firmer fabric hasn’t stopped the texture forming, and there’s a gorgeous soft ripple which catches the light beautifully. It’s a really nice contrast with the slightly nubbly texture of the background and stitching. I’m so pleased with it!

Thanks, Margaret, your beautiful embroidery is a real asset to the quilt 🙂

The road to hell…

… is paved with good intentions, they say.

I had excellent intentions at the beginning of this month. I would sew lots, work in the garden, cook lots, get my tax done and of course, post lots. I’ve managed the cooking and the tax. Not deeply impressive, but fate intervened in the shape of another trip south which ate up three days, the big toe which had surgery 6 month ago flaring up extremely messily and painfully, and my 93 year old father, who lives in Spain, needing surgery for skin cancer.

Pa is a notoriously impatient, irritable and still very dogmatic person. Age has not mellowed him a bit, and he still has all his marbles. So he was not a co-operative patient before, during or after the procedure. He was supposed to wear a sling to keep his arm still. Oh dear me no, that didn’t happen. He has resisted expert care until the point where, feeling dreadful, he summoned my sister to drive for 8 solid hours from France to Spain, to come and pick him up. She got there to find the situation was a storm in a teacup. Meanwhile, my brother and I were imagining the worst. It has been a little stressful…

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 10.19.21 amToday I said enough was enough. I headed upstairs to my sewing room and spent half an hour preparing for some solid sewing time tomorrow. I get restive and glum if I can’t do my creative stuff, and that on top of the painful toe and the worry about Pa, has made me rather blue. Another round of toe surgery is at 11.00am tomorrow, and after that I plan to put my feet up and stitch like it’s going out of fashion 🙂

And get waited on hand and toe by the Husband of Chiconia, who has the day off!

Got it covered…

I haven’t been anywhere near a sewing machine for the last two days. 

Nothing against sewing, just the rest of life intruding, good times to be had and a baking order to be got out for this morning. But one thing I wanted to prioritise is this:

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 2.18.35 pmHaving indulged in a spot of techno-worship, I don’t want my lovely new lappie to start looking tired and dinged up too soon. And we’re going on a road trip on Tuesday on the motorbike, so I needed a compact yet protective cover.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 2.19.38 pm Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 2.19.16 pm Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 2.18.55 pm Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 2.20.00 pmWell obviously, it had to be quilted. And I wasn’t going to give myself a hard time with a zip if I didn’t have to, so it’s got a nice button flap.

And for the accessories (charging cable, dongle, etc), I’ve made a matching drawstring pouch from the leftovers (the set was made from two fat quarters, a bit of spare red binding and a bit of leftover batting; almost every scrap of fabric was used). I tried something a bit more detailed for the quilting as it didn’t need to be drapey-soft, just padded. I like the result. Best of all, I didn’t need to mark it up, I just joined the dots, literally! And no, I’m not going to point out the mistake. You can look for it if you’re sad enough, but it’s on the back, which I have carefully not shot! I actually don’t mind it, it doesn’t show and I’m not in the mood to unpick it…

We’ll be on the road for 8 hours tomorrow, riding up to Cairns in Far North Queensland on the bike (Miss Scarlett, a red Honda ST1300, in the remote event that anyone’s interested…), so I’ll probably be a funny shape by the end of the day, and I certainly won’t be posting! Weather permitting though, I should be able to get some good photos from our rides over the next few days, so I expect some sort of post will materialise while we’re away.

The road to hell…

… is paved, they say, with good intentions.

You’ve had the Good. Now it’s time for the Bad and the Ugly. In addition to all the swanking about stuff I’d achieved and my publicly-acknowledged UFOs, there’s a second, secret, rogue’s gallery of projects I’d intended to start, but which never got off the ground, or no further than some very tentative initial work.

My Recycle quilt, made from denim, twill and flannel from the Husband’s castoffs. The ultimate recycling project, most of which is still sitting in a large and inconvenient pile on the floor. The Ugliest of all, because the mess is biggest.

Pannier liner bags for Miss Scarlett, our Big Bike. Another pile, but a bit tidier.

Cylindrical fabric boxes with a hole in the top, for knitting or crochet yarn, intended as gifts. Yup, you guessed it. A pile, but a small one.

Posh Nightie, hideously, screamingly expensive Sea Island cotton fabric from Barbados, to make myself the world’s softest, most comfortable nightdress. Still in a box on the shelf.

Dressmaking: two dresses, a pair of pants, a shirt or two. More fabric and patterns sitting about.

Fluffy Thing. I was supposed to finish Woolly Thing and then start knitting that. Yup. No.

And we’re not even mentioning fabrics bought for no particular purpose, yarn ditto, a lap quilt for a sister that I haven’t even looked at, quilts promised long ago to nieces, my One Day Double Wedding Ring quilt.

There’s a line from a poem by Robert Browning, which says “Man’s reach should exceed his grasp”. Boy, have I have done the double-handed grasp without a hope of reaching my goal… I think it’s time to turn that around, stop buying on impulse and start consolidating a bit…

Watch this space.

And a special thank you to Kirsten, who told me how to do a collage of photos, thereby saving you all from visual hideousness. 🙂

Broken Bottles #11: Breaking glass

I’ve started quilting. And it did not begin well…

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I know I like big stitch quilting, but this is ridiculous

I foolishly thought I’d mark the straight lines with masking tape. That would have been OK if the lines didn’t intersect. For anyone out there thinking of marking with masking tape: Do it only where lines do not cross or intersect. If you build up the layers of tape and stitch through them, you will spend many painful, pointless and frustrating hours snipping and picking with tweezers, pulling out stitching and having to redo it. On the other hand, if the lines don’t intersect, it’s a very good way of stitching along a straight line. I thought that masking tape would pull out of stitching like in paper piecing. Not. Not even close. A valuable lesson learned: Do not layer the masking tape.

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You can see the starburst /shatter beginning to appear

Next bit of fun. My trusty and recently-serviced Janome had a large hissy fit. I have unpicked metres of dodgy stitching. My patience has been sorely tried. But after much bad language and rethreading the machine and reseating the bobbin three times, it finally decided to stitch properly.

Now we’re getting somewhere. I have all the main radiating lines done and the quilt is stabilised. I’ve started the cross lines and the additional radiating lines. I’m happy with how it looks. There’s a fair bit still to do: I have about a third of it done, and may well add more lines here and there if I feel there are saggy areas that need more quilting. The back looks particularly nice; the quilting really brings out the sheen of the shot cotton.

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Still fabulous, and now more interesting because of the texture

Tomorrow I have to go and move more stones in the morning. But if I don’t completely ruin my back, I’ll get back onto the quilting in the afternoon. I think I may get it finished by the end of the weekend.

But now, it’s time for a cup of tea and a home made peanut butter and choc chip cookie.

Triple Trouble 10: flightlines

It has occurred to me that all three of these baby quilts are about flight, in some fashion.

So I’ve tried to make the quilting reflect movement and direction as much as possible, whilst still quilting minimally to keep the quilts as soft and drapey as possible.  I love the look of heavily quilted fabric, but I don’t think small quilts like this stay flexible enough if they have lots of quilting.  And I don’t want to send three beautifully pieced, quilted and bound planks to my three new great-nieces.  It’s not great quilting, but it’s done.

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Triple Trouble, blowing in the breeze

Wervelwind (Whirlwind)

Wervelwind (Whirlwind)

Wervelwind has swirly radiating lines.

Vlucht (Flight)

Vlucht (Flight)

Vlucht has v-shaped lines that echo the line of geese.

Komeet (Come)

Komeet (Comet)

Komeet has lines that radiate out from the star/comet head, along the line of the ‘tail’. It’s also the most densely quilted, but that’s a function of the pattern rather than by choice.

Two jobs left: cutting and attaching the binding; and labelling.  Both are enjoyable parts of the exercise for me – I can’t understand people who put off finishing a quilt because they hate binding, or can’t get round to attaching a label.

Sorry it’s been quieter than usual in Chiconia, but I had to get my head down and get these lovelies quilted before I go back to work tomorrow.  It’s not that I’m going to be flat out – that would be extremely unlikely – but it means I can’t sit down and give 3 or 4 solid hours of work to any project until later in the week. And I’ve had delightful sessions with the physiotherapist and the optometrist today, the former leaving me rather sore but more comfortable thanks to some extremely strange looking strapping on my knee, and the latter leaving me functionally blind for an hour or so thanks to drops used to dilate my pupils so they could take photos of the inside of my eyes….

I’m very much enjoying the fact that everyone is back from their Christmas break and my Reader has something new for me to read each morning.  Keep up the good work, you lot.

That’s it for today.  Have a great week.