Worldwide Friends: next stage complete…

I’ve got the back panel finished.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 4.38.15 pm

A windy, overcast day. Great for drying laundry, not so clever for photography…

I don’t LOVE it, but I do like it and find it fun, which is all I demand of a back! I’m OK about hanging it this way round from time to time, to remind myself of the haiku, the contributions everyone made, and some of the reds that didn’t appear on the front. There’s just a tiny bit of hand stitching to do on this bit, to attach the small red accent hexies between the large floral panels. I could machine stitch them on, but I prefer hand appliqué.

Finally I still have the facing border to do. This panel is 60″ x 72″, so it needs to be about 5″ wider and taller. I think we’re talking partial hexie flowers rather than full ones, but I need to get it laid out flat, the back offered up to the front and the difference clearly seen and measured before I can be sure. I also need to make some allowance for how the front and back panels will contract slightly when the hand quilting is done. Somewhere in there I have to work out the hidden internal rod pocket, and how the quilting will hold that in place.

Two months to go. In that time, I have to make the facing and do the quilting. I’m going to need a bit of luck and a following wind, I think…

Worldwide Friends: The back’s going forward

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 11.03.35 pmJust because I’ve been hacking at the under-growth it doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy with my needle once the sun’s gone down. I’ve got a Show to enter!








You’ve seen the two right hand panels already. I’ve added two more columns, including the haiku section. And clearly, I’ve been unable to resist making more hexies, even if they are giant ones. I had a lot of fun with them, and got them stitched onto the background last night. The borders on the hexie panel are still ‘drafts’ which is why they’re wonky – in case you were wondering if I’d gone a little slapdash here. The haiku panel is stitched together but still needs to be sewn on to the section on the right. Some of you should also recognised fabric contributions, too! I’m actually enjoying the wonkiness and lack of things lining up properly here. The back is a series of columns that don’t match, align or relate to each other in any way, in a truly scrappy back. Given the strict discipline of the front of the quilt, I thought it was time to play a little…

Visualise the whole back surrounded by red hexies. I don’t know yet whether it’ll be a single row, or a row of flowers; it’s going to depend on fabric supplies, time and whether my hands hold up..

Short post this morning, I’ve got a jungle to sort out.

Worldwide Friends: back in front

The front of WWF is neatly folded on my work table.

The adventure that is the back of this quilt has begun. I’ve marked out the approximate area on my design wall, and am creating panels and pieces to be arranged within this area. It’s the loosest way I’ve ever worked on a quilt – Aimée came close, but was still much more structured – and I find it a little nerve-wracking, but remarkably liberating.

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 3.28.54 pmThe haiku created and donated by some of the Friends have been written out on a series of stone-coloured homespun panels, and will be arranged in a column the height of the quilt with a red border on the dark blue back-ground. The other furoshiki wrapping cloth brought back from Japan for me by Carla of Granny Maud’s Girl is featured, as are some other pieces not used for the front. I have some nice scraps of a Japanese large floral print with a dark blue back-ground which I am also using, and their lavish design contrasts nicely with the slightly severe and restrained colour palette of the front. It’s rather good fun diving again and again into my scrap boxes to find suitable pieces, pinning bits up, taking them down and rearranging them.

I’m going to create a facing around the outside of red hexies, and this will be applied once I’ve done most of the hand-quilting, using whipstitch around the outside edge, and hemming where it’s attached to the body of the quilt. I need the slight contracture of the quilting to be in place so that the facing sits right.

It’s a joy to get back to the sewing machine for this part of the job. My hands are getting a rest, my fingers are healing and the pleasure of much more rapid results cannot be denied!

I hope the next post will show the completed back panel…

Worldwide Friends: the honour board

The front is complete.

I’ve spent a few peaceful hours adding to the quilt front the names of all the generous contributors who’ve given me fabric, encouragement, poetry and moral support when my enthusiasm flagged. Ladies, thank you! I couldn’t have done it without you.

Not only is it fully stitched together, with all the paper hexies removed except the ones at the outer edge, but the names of my collaborators, co-authors, conspirators, and contributors (ooh look, alliteration, my favourite!) are there, carefully hand-painted on in gold resist ink. In the interests of not ending up with an unattractive clump of names, I’ve spread them out evenly, so they don’t necessarily appear on the fabrics the named one has contributed. But the contributors know which are yours, don’t you?

We’re an international lot:

Australia: Me (QLD), Nanette, Dale and Tracey (NSW), Carla (WA)
France: Lynn and Viv
Belgium: Rita
Sweden: Gun
Germany: Jule and Annett
Netherlands: Emmely and Esther
UK: Jan, Carole, Kirsten
US: Cath and Sue

The most exciting part is the empty design wall, waiting for the back layout. I’m still not entirely sure what’s going to happen there, but I do know it isn’t going to be hand pieced. My right hand, which has borne the brunt of the work over the last few months with all the hand stitching, is starting to complain very loudly in the arthritic thumb and tattered long finger department. So whatever I do in the next couple of weeks, I need to give it a rest. The hand quilting is going to be major trial, and even there, I’m starting to wonder…

I have three months left to finish.  I should just about make it.

Worldwide Friends: the Posse speaks!

I said last time that I didn’t promise to act on your thoughts about the rectangularity of WWF…

But your voices have been so clear and emphatic in favour of leaving it the way it is that that’s what I’m going to do! WWF is staying landscape and rectangular. I’m really enjoying this participative form of creativity, and the blog makes a great forum for airing thoughts and ideas and getting informed, engaged and knowledgeable feedback. It’s not so much design by committee as raising a child by community.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 6.59.39 am

The top left corner has been stitched together since this shot. I’ll have the whole top strip done by the end of the week, and can then assemble all the pieces into a whole piece to be measured and then taken down to make room for the back.

So, wide and proud it is. Have you had a zoom-in yet to find your fabrics? So many, so different, but they all play happily together.

Worldwide Friends: FFF!

Or, Finished the Flowers for the Front!

That’s 294 hexies made and assembled into flowers, plus another 42 for fillers, since 7th March. With 10 days off in the middle for motorbikery (although, as we know, I did manage to make a few in the in-between times I wasn’t actually on the bike), and a day out to make the Dowager’s birthday gift (for which I now have two more orders, as predicted…).

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 11.56.23 am Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 11.57.09 amYou can see from the second picture where the new strip starts – everything above the red arrow is new. Now they all need stitching together. Give me a few days… I need to let my fingers heal a bit. They’ve got holes worn in them from the needle. Did I mention before that I loathe wearing a thimble except when I absolutely have to, for hand quilting?

Now that the front is in the home straight, I can start thinking about the back. I’d better go and press all the fabrics I’ve assembled so I can audition them. Once the front is stitched together I can measure it and then take it down while I lay out the back on the design wall.

I still have to do the calligraphy for the haiku before I can piece that section – imagine stitching the panels in and then making a mistake in the lettering! And I need to inscribe the names of all the contributors on the front in small gold lettering, scattered here and there. I think it’s going to look rather pretty. It seems there’s a day or two with gold resist ink and a small paintbrush in my future!

There’s only one thing bothering me right now.  The front is landscape in format, wider than it’s tall. The back of my mind (the part that demands symmetry, order and regularity at all costs)  is telling me it needs another row or two at the bottom to square it up a bit.  The front of my mind is screaming “nooooooo!”. I’ve had enough of little blue hexies for a little while…

It’s not even remotely square, but then it’s not going on a bed, so does that matter? Does every single one of my quilts have to be square or should I get over that particular obsession? What are your thoughts on the subject, please? I don’t promise to act on them, but I would like to know what you all think!

The kindness of strangers

There’s nothing like a quilt to shrink the world and bring strangers together.

Some of the lovely people who’ve sent me fabrics for Worldwide Friends have sent still more when I mentioned that I was going to need some more in order to finish the front. I had imagined simply buying some more indigoes from my LQS, but no, I had offers to send more, treasures picked out from personal stashes all over the place. A hand held out, and help freely given. You’ve got to love the quilting fraternity – or perhaps I mean sorority? I don’t want to seem sexist, I know there are many, many talented male quilters out there, I follow some of their blogs, but all the help and kindness I have received has been at the hands of women.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 11.12.21 pmThe front of Worldwide Friends is in the home stretch. Today I received a second envelope from the kind and talented Jule, who has not one but two blogs to manage and write for, as well as all the beautiful handwork and photography she produces. Go and take a look at From the Boudoir and the UFO Garage & Fabric Depot, the two blogs I follow. She’s sent me some extremely beautiful indigoes, and rather than just show pieces of fabric, I’ve held off until I had made hexie flowers from them, just for something different. Thanks to the help of these and an earlier second donation from Viv, the final piece of the front is going to be as interesting and varied as the other parts.

A week should see the front done. Then I must piece the back, sandwich everything, and finally, hand quilt. WWF is not going to be bound but faced, with a strip of hexies around the outer edge of the back, stitched edge to edge with the outer hexies of the front. I’m putting in a totally concealed rod pocket, hidden between the layers, with only slots in the outer edge of the quilt to show it’s there. The quilting needs to hold it in place without seeming to to do so, and some sleight of hand is going to be needed there.

It’s all new, unknown territory, and I really wish I wasn’t testing myself on an exhibition quilt, but there you go. Quilters do these things to themselves…

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.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 8.43.31 pm

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…..

Worldwide Friends: the last of the loot

The last two days have seen a lot of traffic into my mailbox.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 12.30.38 pmFirst, I got a lovely squidgy envelope from Viv in France, with more of that fabulous Java print which gives such zing to some of the hexie flowers. She’d already contributed, so this was especially generous, and I’m very grateful.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 12.30.55 pmAnd then there was an envelope from Sue, of From the Magpie’s Nest. Sue and I are organising the Foot²Freestyle Block Swap Party together, so if you haven’t had a look at what that’s all about, hop over and take a look here – we only need one or two more people to make it work. Sue’s over on the Pacific Northwest coast of the US, so we have interesting times working out when each other is awake!

Sue sent me some lovely indigo, dark red and ecru fabrics, and the floral indigo is especially lovely as it’s African, to add to the other fabrics of all nations!

Well, we’re all packed, and off this morning. The hexie kit is in my shoulder bag, the camera’s in the top box where I can get at it quickly, and my laptop’s in my pannier. See you in about 650km (400miles)…

Worldwide Friends: full steam ahead

I’m getting there, and a little faster than I expected/feared.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 6.40.39 pmI have the bottom strip hexies complete and assembled. It’s amazing how a bit of slightly panicky focus can result in a massively increased output! Give me a couple of weeks and I’ll have the front finished.

All this industry has been greatly assisted by care packages of more fabrics – I had enough in yardage terms, but the range was getting very limited and I was very reluctant to spoil the effect from lack of choice. Thanks to the contributions from Nanette and Cath (which I’ve written about in earlier posts), that’s not going to be a problem.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 6.41.20 pm

Spot the moon. Time for some gold paint, I think!

I’ve also decided that the crescent moon on the rabbit fabric has to be gold too. It’s a bit, well, discreet at the moment, and after my success with the lettering, it seems an obvious progression.

Before I assemble all the front sections into one giant piece, I’ll tackle that job, otherwise it’ll be a huge, cumbersome thing to manage. The haiku will make a bit more sense if the moon is shining!

rabbit dances on
the moon’s straight and shining path
along lake’s bright ripples

On a completely different subject, I’ve had some rather trying news. It appears that I’m now lactose intolerant as well as coeliac. I’m used to managing my diet, so it’s nothing new. The real disaster, of course, is that the very few mainstream brands of chocolate which were gluten free are also now out of reach… 😦  There’s only one left: Whittaker’s. Their Dark Ghana 72% and Dark Almond 62% have the ‘may contain traces…’ disclaimer, but I reckon lactose levels would be minute and I refuse to take that into consideration. I mean, seriously, how am I supposed to get through life without chocolate?

I wonder if it’s possible to make your own Nutella…. any ideas?