Saturday, August 31, 2013

Clamshells done

I don't know why I haven't posted all week - it's not as though there has been anything particularly interesting or busy going on here. Maybe it's all the spring flowers distracting me. I've quilted and bound my very bright and cheerful clamshells - I wanted to call it "Cupcake Fairy Unicorn Blossom" because it's so pink and girly ... but the boys thought that was far too sooky a name for a quilt and it needed something tougher so I changed it to "Shredder Ripjaw". Hah! That'll teach them. The boys are always very interested in the names I call quilts but their suggestions are universally hopeless.

I quilted it in an all over pattern from a book called "Mindful Meanderings" which I like - the book has lots of quite simple quilting patterns with variations on a few themes. I used one that goes in rows that I think looks a bit like a kite.

Maybe it's clearer from the back ... or maybe not. Anyway it was quite straight forward to do and it's not the kind of design or colours for elaborate quilting!

Monday, August 26, 2013

A quilting exercise

I finished off another quilt on the weekend while stuck in the house with the children ... and I also did the downstairs windows inside and out - which is completely irrelevant but it's made a huge difference, you can see outside now! I made myself do one chore before I went and sewed, and the windows were Saturday's lucky winner. Anyway the quilt I finished was this one - it is called "Bagel. Bagel."

I made it for two reasons - firstly because I discovered the twelve-inch crumb blocks when I was tidying up my sewing room a couple of weeks ago (the outer border) and secondly because I am still enjoying free motion quilting on my new machine and I wanted to try something a bit more intense. So this one has scrap blocks and lots of nice pale open space to try quilting on.

I did the feathers free hand - getting more even although not close to perfect - and an echo on the outer fill. And the inner fill is four different ones for practice ... this is the pebbles.

And these are the christmas lights - some kind of loopy meander.

And then a wave meander - I don't know what you call this - it seems a bit basic to even have a name! The fourth side I haven't got a photo of ... it was meant to be straight lines but they weren't very straight at all. I don't think I'll be doing that free motion on anything I care about - might stick to a walking foot for straight lines.

It didn't make much of a dent in the 6 inch crumb blocks, but that's OK - as I said it was an exercise for the quilting rather than anything else! I'm pleased with the way it turned out, although I'm not a huge fan of very dense quilting. Even with a nice cotton batting it makes it quite stiff and uncuddly for something that you want to put on a bed. Maybe after a few years of washing machine and wear it will soften up?

Sunday, August 25, 2013


Winter ends in about two days in Canberra ... one day you're completely encased in woolly clothes and thinking it might snow, and then half a week later the blossoms are out, the daffodils are up and everything's sparkly. And then sometime in October it will go into full-on summer and stay there until March. I like the change of seasons but it seems to be happening every second day now! Because I am getting so old. This pink blossom is up the street and it is SO pretty.

This is the Manchurian pear tree on the border of our driveway - another pretty tree. Beautiful autumn foliage too.

I managed to get out for a walk this morning; this weekend has been a bit of a shambles. We were going to go for a nice long walk yesterday morning but number two son had a bit of a cold which gives him asthma, so me and him stayed home in the sunshine while the other two climbed Mt Ainslie. Steep apparently, and millions of people. And then my husband's week of leave came to a crashing halt as he had to work Saturday afternoon and evening - and he's just gone back in again! Actual meetings too, which means he puts on his suit and tie. I think if you have to go in on the weekend you should wear your trackpants, just to make a point, but he disagrees.

So today's little walk on my own was a nice oasis of tranquility - and wattle! The wattle are out and the hills are a carpet of yellow. Murder if you suffer from hay fever apparently, but I don't, and I love yellow, so wattle is a favourite.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Circles into clamshells

I turned the orange and pink circles into clamshells and sewed them into a top. Originally I was going to have the clamshells going up and down but it looked a bit strange ... actually VERY strange ... so I had to add the borders at the top and bottom to make it a square quilt. Excuse the terrible photo, it was blowing a gale and the top was billowing around like a mad thing. And I haven't trimmed the sides yet :)

I love the pink and orange! It's very girly though, I don't think I'll be able to get it onto the boys' beds without them objecting. Mostly it was a technical exercise to see how to piece these kinds of curved things ... I have a few ideas on more graphic designs that could be really interesting, especially in solids.

What I did find is that the areas, where the points of the shells are, is very bulky with seams - I tried a few ways of limiting the bulk but without success. I think that any design that relied on a lot of circles meeting at one point would be quite difficult .... which might have an impact on what I'm trying to do! It doesn't matter for this though, it's not like there is going to be very detailed quilting on this one, you could hardly see it. And you can't look at the quilt for too long without a bit of eyeball burning. It's quite bright.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Yesterday's walk

Yesterday morning was bloody freezing with an arctic wind and a severe weather warning ... so we went for a walk. Yay for us! Not a long one, about 5km and not too steep or too far from home. We walked through a frost hollow - an open space formed because the temperatures drop too cold for trees, which we could well believe - and then through a variety of native forests, which is even less interesting than it sounds. But it was all fresh air.

I said "look like you're in a frost hollow!" which perhaps got the reaction it deserved.

At the snack break I said "look like you're in a remnant yellow box woodland!" which was even less inspiring.

The last part of the walk was through a cork oak plantation that the early Canberrans thought would be a good idea to plant back in about 1917. Cork oaks take decades to mature to a point where you can harvest the cork, and nobody really anticipated the advance of the screw cap. Never mind, the cork apparently does get harvested and sold, and now it's all part of the new arboretum. You can see where the trunk has been stripped and is slowly re-growing.

It was strangely fascinating because I never think of cork as tree bark, even though my head knows that's what it is. And it was very pleasant to walk in. The boys thought the best bit of the walk was the road underpass because if you shouted REALLY loudly it echoed for full five minutes. Boys.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


I've been thinking over the last few months about circles, and curved piecing generally. I have a drunkard's path template that I've had fun with in the past, but I haven't done a great deal with proper curves. So I've been experimenting with a few methods of making circles - both piecing and applique - but with mixed success. Actually that's not true, it hasn't been mixed, it's been disastrous! Either really fiddly and time-consuming, or not accurate enough. But I bought a new ruler that cuts perfect circles and frames and then you sew them together and it's great! Not too difficult and a good result.

So I've been making big circles - they are a bit boring plain so I'll cut them down and make something else.

Do you like the cupcakes? I went with a pink and orange theme and it's very cheerful.

What a colourful bunch of scraps.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


While I was tidying up and clearing out last week I found a big tub of odd blocks and bits of blocks - including dozens of half square triangles in different sizes. So I made a quilt out of them - the polka dot blocks in the centre and down the right side are new, but otherwise entirely from pre-existing HSTs, and a few flying geese. There are a number of past projects in there and it was fun trying to remember them all ... although some are still a mystery.

I called it "Freezer Surprise" which is a meal we have every few weeks ... when there are three fish fingers, two sausages, a piece of steak and half a loaf of garlic bread lurking in the freezer. Not enough singly for a meal so I just cook it all and put it in the table (and say "surprise!" because you know, it's a mum joke). The boys love it because it is never health food, but it's not exactly a gourmet feast. Anyway this quilt is a bit like that - random leftovers.

I used the opportunity to re-try free motion quilting with my new machine in these bumpity rows. It was good because I used lots of different colours - so tried lots of different threads. And the machine is most happy with basic Gutermann polyester! Can you believe that - after stashing all that lovely cotton Aurifil this machine finds it a bit weak and prefers the poly. I have no problem with polyester thread so will use the cotton for piecing and straight line quilting. It was a good exercise anyway, particularly on such a raggle taggle quilt.

The cat wanted to know what I was doing, but wandered off in the middle of my explanation to poop in the garden. Charming.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A lovely week

In the end I have had a great week - after the flurry of the first couple of days it has all settled down nicely. My husband is loving life with no parliament and has been home for dinner every night this week. A minor miracle, and there was also a major miracle when both boys managed to complete their science fair projects on time and to a reasonable quality without hysterical nagging from me! What is the world coming to. Even the weather has cheered up with today bright and sunny - still cold, but it is August.

And I blew out the candles on another birthday cake. The birthdays do seem to be rolling around very quickly. My main present was my new sewing machine from six weeks ago but the boys gave me some more essentials of life … thread, chocolates, itunes voucher. And a hairdryer - I asked for one when I realised I was still using the one I got for my fourteenth birthday - it works but not very well. The new one is amazing, apparently hairdryer technology has moved on quite a bit from the 1980s. This one says it produces 90% more ions - I have no idea what that means but my hair is now Perfectly Dry and Very Bouncy.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Normal programming has resumed

Quilting trivia was well and truly overtaken by an election announcement on Sunday ... and like most good little public servants I've been scrambling around making sure all is shipshape for the caretaker period which started at close of business on Monday. Hopefully it will calm down fairly quickly but right now my main concern is whether I will even make it to this exhibition! That would be irony, or possibly karma, I'm not completely across either concept.

So I should probably post a picture of the inside of my office, but that would be very boring, so here are the crumb blocks I made Sunday afternoon. My husband was in at work of course, so I plonked the boys in front of the computer and did some sewing! Crumb blocks are just so much fun when you're in the mood for something mindless, and I was. These are six and half inches square, and I made about 70.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Well goodness me

My stars, it has been a strange couple of days here in Lynley's quilting world. All excitement and kerfuffle.  It started on Wednesday when the "local interest" section on the back page of the Canberra Times ran a story about a quilt that is going in the exhibition that includes embroidered condoms - it looks fantastic and I can't wait to see it up close. But I did think "truly? the groovy and avant garde Canberra Quilters? really?" so I emailed the journalist and then talked on the phone to him. And on Friday the heading on the back page of the Canberra Times was "Quilt stirs emotion and is barred" - with a photo of my quilt (with the "fuckers" blurred out of course :)).

And the article was on the internet, and it got shared across a couple of quilting groups, and all of a sudden I'm getting emails! And comments on my blog! The blinding gaze of publicity is not something to which my pale and milky self is accustomed. As you'd expect, most of the comments that have gone directly to me are very supportive, although I've also looked at the facebook pages that shared it and then there's a bit more discussion about pros and cons and a few people who have said they wouldn't show it.

Such excitement, and even a bit of sensible conversation. It is clearly not a black and white issue - many people (like me) simply don't get what the problem is; you can see more confronting things on movie posters, let alone at the art gallery. Others are quite sure that there is no place for that kind of language in the quilting world, which is meant to be a kinder? less threatening? sheltered? environment. What is clear to me is that the committee's decision is at the conservative end - and if their views genuinely represent the Canberra Quilters as a whole (which I still doubt) - then this whole thing has been quite a public statement of the group's values. And they are not values that are particularly palatable to a lot of people, including me.

The highlight of the whole palaver? I was chatting about a raft of things to the journalist, and I said that quilting is not as adventurous as other crafts - I was thinking of some of the radical yarn work and embroidery - and I said, without thinking "The felters are always felting genitals". Which was duly reported in the Canberra Times to the absolute undie-ripping hilarity of everyone who read it ... even before I'd left the house in the morning a friend had shared it on facebook and said "I'm thinking of taking up felting" ... what an absolute face palm moment. Luckily no sign yet of the felters' society petrol-bombing my house. My husband says they're going to issue a fatwa ... or possibly a feltwa. Oh hahahahaha.

Anyway I was only really cross for about half an hour - at the shoulder-shrugging stage now, and looking forward to hanging the quilts on Wednesday and seeing all the amazing things that everyone else has done! And I've been doing a lot of sewing but for some reason I want to do tiny little very traditional blocks .... a steadily growing pile of 4 inch churn dashes.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

More finishing up

Yep, this lack of creative energy is totally working for me!!! Here is another finish - I made the top a few weeks back when I realised I had about a hundred million crumb blocks. Very basic, crumbs and blues, straight line quilting. A bed quilt somewhere.

I do like crumb blocks, they always look comfortable somehow. I called this quilt "Crumpled" because it and me can be crumpled together. The quilt looks better crumpled, I'm not too sure about me. And my scraps container is jammed full again - how did that happen? I need to make another hundred million crumb blocks... and I'm probably in the right mood for it.