Twilight… fades to black

It’s done.

In the shade apart from a splash of sunshine, where the colours are mostly, but not quite, true to life

Twilight is finished!  It has taken me a stupidly long time to complete what is, after all, not a very complicated quilt, but it has hit me in the middle of a patch of de-motivation, loss of quilting mojo and needing to get other things done. Now that it is finished, I wonder why it took me so long, and I love it and am proud of it.

In the sun. See what I mean about the colours? Not true to life; all the purple has gone brown.

Photos just don’t accurately communicate the lovely sheen on those shot cotton squares, the flashes of double-colour. The values are all wrong and the colours are off. Never mind. I know it looks better than what you see here.

(Thanks are due to the Husband, who patiently held it up at arms length all around the back yard till I found somewhere that worked, still in his work clothes after a long day and before he’d had a cup of tea, just because I wanted to catch the light. You’re a star!)

The back is nice and simple, just a dark petrol green-blue, and a simple label.

I’ll mail it off on Monday, with love and a sigh of relief!

… and night falls on yet another quilt.

Trying it for size

They’re back.

The sunbird couple are flitting around the nest again. Not constantly, but regularly. Mrs SB spent a good hour this afternoon sitting in the nest with her head out the hole (see her curved beak sticking out on the right?). Whether she was assessing it for comfort, fit, ambience or location I don’t know, but she was there a good while. Maybe she was even laying an egg?

I’m going no closer than I absolutely have to. As it is, we’re reluctant to use the back deck for fear of disturbing her. Mouse, of course, is totally unconcerned, and as this is his route out to the back yard to do his business, he trots happily under the nest without paying it any attention. She ignores him right back… I do hope they’re planning to stay and raise a family. It’s usually two eggs, I believe, so maybe we’ll be seeing a pair of tiny curved beaks opening wide for nectar and insects from the hardworking parents. And of course, situated where they are, they’re safe from both larger predatory birds and cats, and extremes of weather.

On another note, I have one seam left to go on Twilight, always the hardest because I’m wrestling the full weight of the quilt and trying to keep quite tiny seams straight.

Tomorrow should see it done. Once more unto the breach, etc.  I also have the binding made and rolled up neatly, waiting for that bit to start. I need to start thinking about a label!

So, progress on all fronts!

Quilting, and housekeeping

Hello there, I’m still alive!

I’m so sorry it’s been an age since I checked in. A lot has been going on behind the scenes. First, some good news. My relative with bowel cancer has been given the all clear after surgery, no chemo or radiotherapy required. Huge relief all round! The family have had a tense wait for all the pathology to come in, but totally worth it. More good news. My own annual cancer checkup has shown that the Little Bugger lurking on the other side is still snoozing. No change in size or condition. Another six months’ all clear until the next MRI.

And so with that out of the way, I finally buckled down and got on with Twilight. I’ve finished all the sandwiching and quilting, and have cut all the sashing strips to start assembly, which begins today.

As always, I’m breaking the task down into manageable chunks, but I hope to have the assembly all done by the end of the coming week. That leaves just the label and binding.

As you can see, it’s only lightly quilted in my No. 2 fallback pattern, crosshatch. This keeps it very soft and drapey, which combined with the lovely hand of the fabrics will ensure a really snuggly finished quilt. I think I’ll be binding it in the same inky dark blue as the front sashing.

And finally, the housekeeping bit. The Olive-Backed Sunbirds are back, and flitting around our front and back porches, looking for a suitable place to build their amazing sock-like nest. Mr Sunbird has been dismantling/destroying the nest they started and abandoned last year, right beside our back door, with the result that it’s a sad, tattered rag and the ground below is strewn with bit of dead leaf, dried grass, fluff, hair, twig, thread and who knows what. I’m leaving it for now in case they want to recycle it, and I have put out a container of fluff, dog hair, thread and whatnot, but so far this has been ignored.

He’s also spending considerable time admiring himself. I see his point, because he is exceptionally colourful and handsome. Meanwhile, Mrs Sunbird, who wears much less showy feathers , is darting here and there, and is probably doing most of the work!

So now you’re all caught up. I expect there’ll be a bit more to tell you soon, because I have various activities planned, but until they happen and i have photos, they’re on the back burner.

Till then.

Nothing to see here

Isn’t that what they say?

When there’s actually quite a lot to see, but they want you to move along? I, on the other hand, have literally had nothing to see for quite some time. But now I have things to show and tell.

Let’s start with… Baking. I have always been fascinated by cooking from the Southern states of the US. The names of the dishes are mysterious and wonderful, the combinations and flavours can be strange to UK and Australian palates, and many of the ingredients are not at all easily obtained here. But one thing I’ve always loved the sound of is ‘biscuits and sausage gravy’. For breakfast, mind you. Now obviously, these are American biscuits, which closely resemble our scones, rather than being the sweet, flat, crisp jobs we dunk in our tea or coffee. And sausage gravy? Not the rich, meaty brown liquid we make from our Sunday roasts, but a thick, pale, creamy sauce flavoured with crumbled ‘breakfast sausage’. This latter ingredient isn’t snags, or bangers (‘links’ to my US friends), it’s a large roll of seasoned sausage-meat cut into thick slices and fried, served with eggs, etc, for breakfast. I haven’t seen breakfast sausage anywhere in Australia*. You can take a pork snag or two and squeeze it out of its skin, mash it up and that will do the job, fried in a skillet and crumbled. After that, add flour, seasoning and milk, and stir till the whole thing thickens. It takes patience but is very tasty. Anyway, failing the sausage gravy, I made biscuits. I think they turned out rather well! Yummy eaten warm with butter. I would have added honey except, you know, diabetes… If you’re an expert biscuit baker, I’d love to know what you think of my amateur effort.

Gardening. As you’re probably well aware by now, we have a caravan (travel trailer). We keep it in the front yard on a not quite level piece of ground between two flower beds. Because of the curved, banana shape of the outer, raised bed, nearest our front boundary, it has been difficult to back the ‘van into her spot when we come home. So I have shortened and straightened it. Which involved heavily pruning some ornamental trees (ixora, hibiscus, variegated ficus, azalea, Bankok Rose and Snow on the Mountain), shifting what felt like several hundred edging bricks, hacking out soil, repositioning irrigation pipes and some power-weeding. Total time, 2 days of hard labour, but so worth it. I also enlisted the Husband and his angle grinder to remove the old and nasty mailbox which lives in that raised bed. It had finally rusted past the point of no return so that rain more or less guaranteed soggy mail, and will be turned into something more useful in its next incarnation. We also got rid of the ‘ornamental’ street number some aesthetically-challenged previous owner had crafted out of welded steel chain and tack welded to the supporting post… A new, functional, powder-coated steel mailbox improved matters no end, and I wrapped the now-disfigured post in a square of imitation buxus panel. It looks rather fetching…

And finally, Sewing. I have finally got back to the Twilight quilt, and the first two rows are sandwiched and quilted, although I’m not sure you can tell from this photo. I’m using a rather beautiful purple Rasant thread, which blends rather well, but also has a pretty shine. It’s made by Amann, and is  cotton spun on polyester core thread which is both strong and smooth-running. So far, so very good! I’m quilting a cross hatch a hand’s-width wide, which is enough to safely hold the layers together but also results in a very soft and drapey finish to the quilt. There has also been activity on my Hopscotch quilt blocks, but I’ll leave reporting on that until ScrapHappy Day.

Amazing what a long post I’ve written about nothing at all!

 

*If you’ve seen it, do tell me where, as it’s just the sort of thing the Husband would love…

Radio silence

I’m sorry it’s been so quiet around here.

I’ve had a lot on, but it’s all chopped into small, not-blog-worthy chunks. I’m still getting used to the whole diabetes thing, and managing the weight-loss that my doctor recommended.

Then there was the work of setting up Mouse’s new blog and the research and pulling-together of information for it.

I’ve been assembling Hopscotch blocks, making orphan blocks from leftovers, putting stuff away and tidying my sewing room. A bit of a rainbow mix.

I’ve started to have some very early ideas for the sister-in-law who still doesn’t have one of my quilts but is interested in having one, which will be next out of the traps after Twilight is finished. I’ve cut backing and batting so I can start quilting Twilight, and I’ve decided on the colour and bought the quilting thread. Coming soon.

And finally, I have been a bit distracted. A close member of my family has been diagnosed with bowel cancer and is waiting for surgery, then pathology, then classification of the cancer so that a treatment plan can be developed.

Faced with news like that, finding beauty becomes a good bit harder.

But I’m keeping my face turned towards the sun 🙂

 

Twilight 5: all bordered out

The top is done.

I didn’t have enough full strip sets to do a continuous border in the same design, but I did have enough to do all round minus the 4 corners. With the scraps and ragtag of what I’d made, I constructed the corner blocks you see, which I’m very happy with. The two colours of shot cotton that you see at top and bottom corners came from small pieces in my stash, since Spotlight no longer sell shot cotton for some totally spurious reason. They used to have a very nice selection, but no more, which I’m very upset about.

I have also bought fabric for the backing, a dark petrol green/blue with a sheen on it. Almost a shot cotton in that the light sits on it differently according to whether you see shine or shadow. I needed 3.5m and bought 4. I hope it’ll also be enough to bind the quilt as well.

I so wish the photos could capture the colours in this quilt more truthfully. It has made the selection and placing process more time consuming, but also more rewarding. It looks… nice… in the photos, but in real life it’s actually quite beautiful, even to a non-purple-lover.

There’s beauty and practicality in a simple design. It looks clean and lets the colours sing, but it’s also finished a lot faster than a quilt with loads of piecing. I’ll be sending a photo to my niece to ask her whether she’d like geometric or organic-style quilting. I’m also debating the colour of quilting thread. I’m quite tempted by magenta, or maybe turquoise… Of course, it won’t show a great deal unless you get up close and personal, but one of the bright jewel colours really appeals.

But that’s a decision for another day.

(In case you’re wondering, there’s no Parterre block this month; I’ve had too much else on. I’ll be back next month with another bright flower.)

Twilight 4: border progress

I did an awful of fiddling about over the past few days.

My original plan was doing a sort of ‘basketweave pinwheel’ effect with strip sets cut into HSTs (half-square triangles). I didn’t like how it looked, and getting things to line up was a total faff. So then I tried a diamond effect. Same. So then I abandoned the HST idea. Now, the border blocks are made up of 4 squares arranged in a basketweave, cut from strip sets graduating from light to dark. A central windmill emerges if you arrange them with the darks in the centre, and this is the version I prefer (and before you ask, yes, I did try it the other way, with the lights in the centre. Not as nice, I think).

At this point, I’m still not totally sure I have enough fabric strips for the 18 blocks I need. If necessary, I’ll create four ‘feature’ corner blocks, doing something fancy with fabrics I still have on hand. Hopefully that’ll be enough. If not, I can also create centre feature blocks for each long side.

I showed my brother (niece’s father) the progress last night during a video call, and he’s thrilled and says she’ll love it. If she doesn’t, he says, he’ll snaffle it for himself! Well, at least it’ll find a home in the family… He feels it goes with her favoured colours and her home décor.

So, onwards, ever onwards with the seemingly never-ending strip sets. Just two more sets to piece and cut to size.

Dull work, but the results are good 🙂

 

Twilight 3: centre blocks done

Sometimes simple is easy, sometimes not…

This is a simple quilt, but getting the colours right is proving to be quite demanding. Laid out flat, those colours look logical and harmonious.

But once you try arranging them, it all changes. Certain colours jump out too much, others recede or change into something that somehow just isn’t quite right. So colours I thought were sure things have come out, and others I eliminated early have made a reappearance. Click on the image below to zoom in.

After lots of placing and stepping back and squinting, this is my (probably) final layout for the central window blocks. The four too-pale ones off at the left may make an appearance on the back, or they may become a couple of cushion covers.

As is my custom, I’m asking for any observations you have. Is something looking off, can you suggest any improvements? I don’t promise to implement your suggestions, but I’ll give all suggestions consideration. Do please bear in mind that the colours in the photo are a little misleading due to them being shot cottons.

Next job is assembling the strip sets from which I’ll be making the blocks that go around the outside. It’s going to need a light touch and attention to detail, so I’ll need a few days to get it done.

So, any thoughts?

Twilight 2: giving it a shot

Yes, my friends, the puns are back!

Shot cottons are gorgeous, but they can be a bit tricky to deal with. I very nearly made a silly mistake. Here’s what I mean.

Two of the cottons, which I laid out with their selected border strips last night, ready to cut and stitch this morning. Under very good LED lighting, but artificial light nonetheless.

And here’s what I saw this morning, with full sunlight shining on them and from an angle. Um… did I put those strips down on the wrong squares? Nope. I’m sure I got it right. Pick the squares up, and as if by magic, the colour changes and the strips are the right ones again. Like I said. Tricky. Both squares are woven from a combination of magenta and turquoise threads, but running in different directions. The lesson to take from this is that for matching purposes you should always view shot cottons straight on rather than from an angle, and choose your light source and stick to it,

Luckily I had my expert assistant to help me resolve the problem. He has pointed out that his blue/yellow vision is just fine and he can see teals, blues and purples, so I should definitely listen to his advice. He believes this quilt will be very nice, particularly if adorned with a light scattering of silky black dog hairs…

I just wish he wouldn’t lie right behind my sewing chair to supervise…

Starting something new: Twilight

No, I’m not talking about the vampire trilogy.

I’m talking about a new quilt. This one’s for my brother’s youngest daughter, the only one of the four who doesn’t yet have her own quilt.

I’ve got the design and the colour scheme sorted out. It’s going to be soft, dark moody shades of greeny blues, indigos, lilacs and purples.

Pre-Covid, I’d bought two packs of beautiful shot cotton 8 inch squares, one in shades of blues and teals and the other in shades of mulberry and purple, plus two packs of batik jelly roll strips in purple and indigo. The centre of the quilt is going to be a selection of the shot cotton squares bordered by jelly roll strips in matching or toning colours, and the centre will be bordered by jelly roll strip HST blocks.

I have more than enough fabric, so there may well also be blocks on the back too.  It’ll be my standard lap quilt size of 5 x 6 blocks of 12 inches each, QAYG, and probably sashed with very dark blue. I haven’t decided on the backing yet, I’ll wait for the quilt to tell me…

So there you have it. Not a lot of variety in the assembly part of the job, but lots of scope for squinting and rearranging until I have the layout just right. And with the spare fabrics I even have the option to add another row if I decide it needs it. For now, I think the spares are too bright, light or dark, but I may change my mind when it’s on the design wall.

Now, I must crack on with assembling the window blocks.

More soon.