What I did on my holiday

I’ve always loved the stories you get from children assigned an essay with this title!

My essay is not perhaps as sweet and entertaining, but we did get a lot done! Let’s see… We travelled 3,400km (2,100 miles) in 10 days. We got very, very hot and very, very wet. We met dozens of new friends. I caught up with a few old friends and family. I didn’t cook a thing for 10 whole days! I haven’t gone that long without picking up a knife or spoon since we were married… And most shocking of all, I entered a quilt shop twice without making a purchase!

Despite the fact that we had only 30cm² (12″) of luggage space each I did manage to pack some WWF supplies in my hexie sewing kit. Along the way, I donated the hexie kit itself to my friend Mrs R, who needed something for small hand work while she waits with her daughter for the first grandchild’s imminent arrival. A good use for it, I’m sure you’ll agree. After that, a plastic baggie did the job. Here’s my output for the 10 days… Even amongst all the fun and games, I found time to stitch.

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17 new hexies for the top half of the front of WWF. Only another 25 to go…

Since I got back I’ve shopped, cooked, done laundry and done a myriad of other small chores. None of my precious plants have died, there are limes ripening on the tree and the house is in good shape. We did have a small unexpected visitor, who made an appearance in the laundry whilst the Husband was spending some quality time with the porcelain fittings in there…. A small black snake slipped quietly from the store room under the door into the laundry, past his legs and out through a small space where the toilet S-bend goes through the wall. We have taken to making lots of noise as we approach, and there’s a broom and a grabber in there now, in case he makes a reappearance! Hopefully he’ll soon find it insufficiently peaceful for winter quarters and will evacuate back out the way he came…

Now that I’m back and the worst of the mess is tidied away, I can get back to my usual pursuits. I still have a lot of work to do on WWF, but I’m still hopeful of getting it done in time for submission to the Show on 12 June. I also have to make a gift for the Dowager, whose birthday is in 8 days.  She’s requested a combination remote control and crochet tool holster to go over the arm of her sofa. It also has to integrate a pincushion and crochet cotton spool holder. And it has to go with the décor of her living room, which is burgundy, cream and pink. I have just the fabric for the job, and am very grateful for the opportunity to remove it from my fabric collection! It came as part of a layer cake and I really dislike the colours, so you can understand my relief at passing it on to someone who’ll appreciate it!

But you know the best thing of all about being home?  My lovely bed…..

Making work for idle hands

I have been hobbling around like Lurch these last seven weeks.

It’s been getting progressively worse, to the point where a walking stick was distinctly helpful and I started to think of a hip replacement as something to be earnestly hoped for. Finally, the medical profession is taking a proper interest, and I discovered today that I have all sorts of alarming tests coming up. Nuclear medicine. MRIs. Do I really want radioactive isotopes inside me? What is all that magnetic resonance going to do to my natural magnetism (yeah, right). Due to the aforementioned hobbling, I haven’t been able to do much strenuous stuff, like unpacking more boxes. So, well, I’ve had to find something to do with my hands while I sit around on my bottom.

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The empty pouch and its contents

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Six fat quarters, or three fat quarters and a pile of finished hexie flowers

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About 6″ square and 2″ deep, neatly closed up with a magnetic snap

Apart from rabidly churning out boxfuls of EPP hexies from all the suitably sized scrap fabric lying around, I decided to at last do something about a travel sewing kit specifically for hexies. I’m going to need something to do while I hang around the hospital… Actually, both hospitals, the one here with the scanners, and the one down south where I’m having some scheduled surgery later this month.

This tutorial  has been waiting patiently for me to find time for it. I first saw it on Granny Maud’s Girl’s blog, and fell in love with her version. Being me, I was unable to resist fiddling around with it a bit, but I’d say the finished result is pretty close to the original. I’ve always loved the combination of big spots and floral, and here’s the perfect excuse!

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Teeny thread cutters….

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Two pincushions, needle book and embroidery kit. Time to stop for a bit…

If I do take it away with me, I’ll have to substitute something else for the scissors or they’ll be taken away at the airport. The snips in the middle are my favourites, but the round thingy has notches in the edge which reveal a tiny sliver of sharp blade. Useful for cutting off lengths of thread, not so great for snipping off the end of a thread you’ve been sewing with…

So, this is one more hand made pretty to add to my collection. I think I probably have enough, just for now..

Son of Isfahan

I couldn’t resist making this. I know, I know, two quilts waiting to be finished. But it’s so cute – and useful!

Sewing kit: inside

Sewing kit: inside

Outside, and my favourite button finally finds a home

Outside, and my favourite button finally finds a home

Back

Back

I had a nice lot of scraps left over from Isfahan, even with keeping back enough to make the scrappy binding. The fabrics are such gorgeous rich colours, I couldn’t see myself throwing them out or banishing them to the many boxes of scraps in my cupboards. And I’m going to be doing a lot of travelling soon. So…. I made myself something pretty and useful and small enough for hand luggage. The little scissors will have to come out when I fly, but I have weeny snips and thread cutters, so that’s not a problem. And finally I have a home for that beautiful button, an antique in brass and turquoise chips which has been sitting in my sewing box for nearly all my life, ‘too good’ to use.

I should have been cutting batting and backing fleece for Isfahan. Or down at the craft shop, picking tapestry wool that matches the fleece to make the ties for the quilt. Yes, I’ve decided on ties. I want the plush warmth of fleece backing to keep Pa’s old bones warm, and machine stitching will almost certainly make ugly tucks and folds in the fleece, even with the walking foot. I’ll make the knots on the back, the fleece side, and fluff the wool ends so it’ll have a nice little woolly tuft on a 3″ grid all over the back.

It’s been a really good day. I had a lovely long gossip with my oldest friend on the other side of the world, thanks to the miracle of Skype. I made myself this dinky little sewing kit, and I’ve received an unexpected gift thanks to the kindness of a complete stranger. And it’s not over yet!

More tomorrow.

Everything but the kitchen sink

Long distance travel is a feat of endurance. I have an extra, extra long trip coming up, and I’m brewing a plan to bring some of the comforts of home along with me.

It’s very exciting. The Husband and I are heading off to the West Indies at the beginning of April. Sort of a first anniversary present to ourselves, combined with a return match to visit my oldest friend Julia and her husband, who got married a month before we did, and who performed extraordinary feats to get from Barbados to our wedding here in Mackay. My side of the wedding party was a little scarce (7 people including Julia and Brett) compared with the Chiconi side (30+ people), so their efforts were greatly appreciated. Anyway, I digress.

We shall be on a plane for obscene amounts of time. The Husband will be able to sleep. He can sleep standing up. The rest of the time he will eat, watch movies, play games on his phone and read the Kindle. I will not be able to sleep. I just can’t, on planes, unless the presence of the Dear One suddenly waves a magic wand over my brain and I zonk out. Something still to be discovered. So, I have to have pastimes. I’m making myself a carry-on survival kit. It will contain my laptop and phone, all our travel documents, a sewing kit and a small personal kit, a few pens and a small drawing pad. The pens will come in handy when everyone rushes to fill out a landing card, and realises they have no pen. And when I say I’m making this kit, that’s what I’m doing. I’m assembling and sewing it from scratch. It’s going to be navy and white fabric, padded and quilted, with soft straps and a zippered top. A well considered survival kit can make all the difference, particularly as this will be the longest journey I’ve ever done all in one go.

Drawings and fabric selection for the Survival Kit

Drawings and fabric selection for the Survival Kit

The drawings are still at the embryonic stage, but you get the idea. Now all I need to do is work out how to make it!

I finished my sewing day yesterday with two more stash baskets: the purple and the blue. Different handles on each, I’m still feeling my way with what works best, but I think the purple version is going to be the one that gets done most. I’m loving the empty space that’s appearing in the Cupboard of All Colours. One day, when it’s all tidy and spiffy, I shall take a brag photo…

Purple basket. Don't you love the lining fabric?

Purple basket. Don’t you love the lining fabric?

Blue basket, and a different handle.   Love that print, but couldn't use it anywhere...

Blue basket, and a different handle.
Love that print, but couldn’t use it anywhere…

Time to go and get Himself up for work… Have a wonderful New Year’s celebration, if that’s what you like to do.  I shall be spending some solitary quality time with my needle; the Car Quilt needs some love.

Talk to you all in 2014.

 

The baby is growing…

Car Quilt has got a bit larger since my last post…

A flower in each colour, and a bunch of fillers for when it grows

A flower in each colour, and a bunch of fillers for when it grows

Close up to show you the colours more clearly. They're actually prettier and cleaner than they look here.

Close up to show you the colours more clearly. They’re actually prettier and much brighter than they look here.

There’s a flower for each fabric colour now, and plenty of ‘filler’ hexies; I’m spacing the hexie flowers with a neutral, which will make my jelly roll go further, and makes the overall effect lighter.  I’m loving the fabrics; they’re a bit heavy and thickly printed, so creating crisp edges on the hexagons is slightly challenging, but once put together, the jewelled effect is lovely. The photos aren’t necessarily the final placement, but give you an idea of what it might eventually look like. I’ve run out of papers on this trip, so I think I’ll have to start sewing spacers and flowers together on the final leg of the journey tomorrow, otherwise I’ll have nothing to do with my hands on the whole long, dreary trip north, all 9 hours of it.

My Car Quilt travel sewing kit

My Car Quilt travel sewing kit

The brilliant white light from my LED portable folding work lamp

The brilliant white light from my LED portable folding work lamp

My travel sewing kit has been fine, but I need to make a case for everything instead of a series of boxes.  I want a tiny, tiny fold out/fold up sewing case with space for a couple of spools or bobbins of thread, some needles, my tiny scissors, my thimble (which I’ve missed badly on this trip) and maybe a supply of hexie papers or finished hexagons that need stitching together.

I also want a larger outer bag which will also take my work light (rechargeable, fold up, LED, absolutely brilliant) and the cut squares I’m making the hexies from.  I have to have a think about the most efficient layout and economical use of space.  And now that the blog is such a feature of my quilting life, perhaps my laptop and camera should come along too.   OK, maybe now it’s getting a bit silly… I’ll be wanting my sewing machine next!  Not, of course, since this is supposed to be my PORTABLE sewing project.

Tonight’s the concert at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.  I’m so looking forward to it: The Last Night of the Proms.  It’s based on the traditional English Promenade Concerts which take place in the run up to Christmas, and are performed in the Royal Albert Hall in London.  The Last Night of the Proms has a programme largely based on the same pieces each year, with audience participation, orchestra dressing up, and the conductor conducting the audience.  We all get to sing along, dance and generally have the sort of fun not normally associated with classical music. Now QPAC are running the same thing, and I couldn’t resist the chance, even if it did mean a very long journey to do so. The Husband is willing to give it a try, but it wouldn’t normally be his cup of tea, so I’m very grateful!

I haven’t forgotten that I meant to post photos of the Magpie quilt and its companion in use. Stupidly, I forgot to take my camera with me that evening, and they’re on my phone, but I don’t have the download cable with me, so it’ll have to wait till I get back in a day or two.

What’s new in your work basket?