Saturday, March 31, 2007

Puffing away

The only work from today are some more puffs, as I spent most of the day doing errands (farmers' market), chores (laundry) and taking some girls out shopping as part of Sarah's best friend's birthday present. (Q: How long does it take two 9 or 10 YOs to decide whether or not to buy a particular skirt? A: about three times longer than you want to hang out in Woolworths.)
Anyway, here are some more puffs - two more on the brown background - one more with orange puffs, and one with mustard yellow puffs - the colour combo looks better in person than in the photo. Then I did some blue on pale purple, which I decided doesn't work as well as light on dark. Am also working on some purple on purple (darker background), which I'll share tomorrow or whenever they are finished. I'm having fun with these - I was only going to do the required number for the swap, but they are going a lot faster than I thought they would, so I think I'll do a few extra, as usual. Watch this space :)

Friday, March 30, 2007

A circle by any other name...

An upcoming postcard swap is on the theme "circles". I've known about this for awhile now, and back in February, while browsing blogs, I saw a great idea for this swap - suffolk puffs with the centres left open a bit, then filled in with beads. Astonishingly, I not only remembered to write on whose blog I saw this idea, so that I could go back to it later, but I even remembered to put what date it was blogged, so I could find it easily. How organised is that? And why is it that most of the time I only think "0h, I should write that down" and never do, and then I have to spend an hour playing "hunt the blog where I saw that idea".

Anyway, thanks to this surprising foresight, I am able to say a huge thank-you to Helen of Quilts & ATCs for the inspiration - here are two pairs of puffs in orange and brown; I'll be doing at least 5 more pairs, probably a few more unless I go mad first, but in different colours so I get to use different bead sets. It's amazing how many beads are in one little tube of beads - and I have a lot of little tubes and packages and pots of beads. These hardly seem to make a dent!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Mail Fairy Strikes Again

Though I didn't sew much myself yesterday (and won't today, given one thing and another, including helping at nursery, an extra four-year old, and shopping for a new toilet) I did receive some lovely things in the post both yesterday and today. The postcard on the left is actually from a few days ago, it's from Martine in France and is part of an open-themed exchange with my group Euro-Quilters. These cards aren't actually due out until 15th of May, which is why I haven't blogged about them myself yet - nowhere near my kind of deadline! I am thinking I may use surplus cards from other swaps, but frankly, it will depend on my time. I may be inspired by something else, who knows. The lanterns are the first arrivals for the lantern swap. Mine are nearly done for those - I need to do two more, probably next week. These lanterns are from Carolyn, and look very nice - I can't wait to see the variety of oriental fabrics in these blocks.

Today's mail brought the above offering, which is very hard to photo graph - basically, it's a lovely two sided painted piece, which has then been cut and folded in an interesting way. Terribly difficult to display and photograph, but very interesting to look at and fold, unfold and explore. Also, the little lutradur ATC and a piece of lutradur to play with (not photo'ed). I really must do something with lutradur - no point having it (I now have several pieces of different types) if it just sits there in a drawer...

Anyway, the lovely work above came anonymously and nearly had me stumped, but for the Norfolk postmark, by which I could luckily work out that it was from Marion, by way of a swap/repayment. I signed up for her pay it forward swap, and also brought back a bleach pen from the US for her, which she offered to reimburse me for in either money or a piece of work - well, no contest there, eh? Anyway, I'm delighted to have these pieces. Hoorah!

And last but not least, these two cards also came today - the left one is also from the EuroSwap open themed swap, and the right one is from the FAI frayed fabric swap. The colour is a little off, but it's an interesting card, despite the fact that it didn't actually fray much. She used batik fabrics, which look lovely, but the close-woven-ness of them probably prevents fraying.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Basket case

These are the baskets for the basket row of the row robin - it's the blue row, as you may have guessed. Last night I cut out a number of blue flowers in various shapes, sizes and fabrics, which I'll add to the baskets before sewing them into a row. Not something I would normally have chosen, but I think it's going to work fairly well.

Didn't do much sewing today - worked on the black and white postcards some more - finished the white stitching and started in on the black in the opposite direction. Luckily, it looks more or less like I imagined, which is good. If I have time (and inclination) I may add some beads in some of the grid spaces - if I have black and white beads, that is. Can't really imagine that I don't, but it's possible I suppose.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Not everything is black and white

These are the brown postcards ("my favourite colour") done - I like the way they turned out. I was going to use metallic thread for some of the decorative stitching - you can see a bit of it here and there - but it was breaking too much and annoying me, so I gave up and instead just used several shades of brown. It works.

I also started work on another set of postcards - this on the theme "black and white". After throwing around a number of other ideas, I decided to go with something really simple - half black and half white, with diagonal white stitches in one direction and diagonal black in the other. Here, I've done about half of the white stitching, the rest of that and the black are still to come.

And finally, I have started the next row for my nesting row robin - the basket row. I decided to just make some simple baskets and then cut out a number of little blue flowers and bond them on and sew them down "in" the baskets. Photos to come.

Photo from forgetful day

These are the frayed fabric postcards I finished and posted the other day, which I forgot to take a photo of in their finished state (these are the three extras, which are now finished). Not that the photo really shows the difference between these and the initial stages - but there are beads nestled in some of the little gaps and of course, they have been edged. I should really go take a closeup and stop being lazy. Hang on.

Oh, and lucky you, you get my fingers as well - but it was the only way I could show the "hidden" beads as the idea was to nestle them in some of the gaps. So there you go.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Nesting Row Robin, back again

Been a while since I worked on this, my excuse being I was out of the black fabric I'd been using, but today I decided to go ahead and work on it despite that. I'm glad I waited, though - the instruction for row 5, which was the February row, was to do a "plain" row, with nine-patches in the corners if desired (the row is somewhat longer/taller than it appears, I had a hard time photographing it). I wasn't really sure how I was going to interpret this, as I didn't want a plain black row.

Then I happened to buy some fabric in Angelcat's blog sale with the idea of "doing something with it someday" and then reaslied that it would be perfect for this, as it's the right colour (turquoise) for this row. A few funky nine-patches in the corners (using a different black - you can tell, but I'm not letting myself get stressed. No guarantee I could find a black to match the first one anyway) and hey presto - row 5 done. The closeup gives a better idea of the wonky nine-patch blocks. I'm sure the mermaid fabric will prove very popular.

In the meantime, row 6 has been announced and it's baskets - not a motif I would have chosen myself, but then that's the point, right? I'll do a few, not sure how many, maybe fill them with blue flowers, as it's a blue round. At least I have lots of blue for variety. Don't know if I'll do that tomorrow or put it away to mature a little first...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Brown is the colour...

of my postcard backgrounds that I mentioned yesterday. The idea was to use up a lot of scraps - and while the pieces are very scrappy, I can't honestly say they made much of a dent in my scrap basket. But at least the effect is there. The colour of the photo is (of course) not quite right, although a few of the browns are quite green, as you can see. But I think they will be fun. The idea now is to add some (brown) buttons down the middle strip and then add some decorative stitches (in brown of course) to finish. I think there are only 2 or 3 people in this swap, but I'm trying to build up a small collection of extra cards for when I suddenly need them and for open swaps with different groups. I had originally planned to do 10, but didn't have enough small scrap pieces started, and really didn't want to go back and do any more - I was beginning to worry about this when I suddenly realised that there was no reason I needed to have 10 other than that was the number I originally thought of. Honestly, I do get myself into a pickle sometimes!

Also worked on the last (probably) of the lanterns - I have enough for the swap now, unless some of them end up being off size (which I doubt, as I measured most of them partway through, but you never know). I have to go back and trim them all and press them again (the top and bottom bits, because narrow, have a tendency to flap up). The swap isn't due to be posted out until the 1st of May, so I'm well ahead on that one. In fact, I think it was the only remaining block swap I had going, so I can take a bit of a breather on that score. I do have some more postcards owing, and some technique swaps on my surface embellishment group, but those are all quite small things, so hopefully shouldn't be too stressful. No point in letting my sewing and dyeing commitments get stressful, as that defeats the purpose of doing those things in the first place.

And finally, I did a few more of these leaf blocks. Aren't they lovely and autumnal? And here I am, hoping desperately for spring!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Lanterns and leaves

That's what I've been doing today - a few more lantern blocks (about 3 left to go) and some leaves on a blue background. Also started sewing some scraps together for the background of a postcard swap themed "my favourite colour" but it's not interesting yet, so no photo of that. Tonight I hope to get the binding sewed down to the quilt I quilted the other day.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Let there be lanterns

Spent today's sewing time doing a few more lanterns (some of these are from another day, but I hadn't taken a photo). These blocks do go together really easily, though I notice that there is a little slippage with the longer strips if you aren't careful.

These are two of my favourites so far, though I like most of them. There's one coming up in the next batch that I like even more, with fabric with storks on it, and brown accents. But then I have a fondness for brown, as some of you know.

I used to have quite a decent stash of oriental fabrics, mostly FQs, but between the fans last year and this, I'm down to very little, which is fine. I'm not one of those people making a resolution not to buy more fabric, but I AM trying to actually use the fabric I have for stuff (rather than hoarding) and to get rid of pieces I really don't think I'll ever use. I appreciate that begs the question why I ever bought the fabric in the first place - well, you guys know how it is!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bound for glory?

Today's sewing theme was binding. In addition to the quilt I quilted yesterday, I had two others sitting in my sewing room waiting to have the binding sewn onto them - my least favourite task in the quilt process. I don't mind doing the hand-sewing to tack the binding down, but making binding and attaching to quilts is just boring. Anyway. So I decided that today I would put the binding on the three of them, and then I'd have something to do when I was watching telly, etc. As it happened, I didn't bind all three of them, but that was because I forgot that one of them wants plain black, of which I need to buy some more, which is partly why it hasn't been bound yet, despite having been quilted for some time. I did, however, attach binding to the other two, so I feel pretty good about that.

I also finished 6 of the frayed fabric postcards - the other three (which are surplus to the swap, anyway) still need some beads added, but I'll do that soon. Forgot to take photos, but again, I can do that with the other three - they are all pretty much the same. And now they are in the post to their new homes. Hoorah.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Yesterday...and today

So here's what I did yesterday and didn't blog about... Made more lanterns. Two of these (the bottom left two) are the ones I did before as samples, the others are ones I did yesterday and Sunday. They are really quick to put together and I think are going to look really nice together, especially with some thin black sashing between them.

Today, I had a longarm quilting day - the first in ages, between my being busy and Lana being busy (and as it's her business, I guess I can't complain too much that she has first dibs on the machine). I decided to quilt the quilt with the 9x9 blocks - I used a variegated thread in shades of purple, which I thought would show up really nicely on the cream setting blocks (which it did) and at the same time, go reasonably well with all the different pinks, purples and blues in the other blocks (which it also did).
I used a pantograph on it (Oriental Illusion) which I thought would add some flow without being too busy - and overall, I'm very pleased with the effect. Most of the batiks were well-behaved, but one pink one must have been particularly closely woven as the machine really did NOT want to sew through it and did lots of skipping. I'll have to go back and do a little fixing in those spots. But on the whole, it looks good. I was going to come home and put some binding on it, but my cleaners were here, so I decided not to get everything out - I'll attach the binding tomorrow. Or another day. :)

One more photo - here's a closeup of the quilting:

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Nearly caught up with stuff!

Well, after the school holidays, my mom's visit and then the Dreaded Cold, I finally feel like I'm back to where I should be in terms of projects. I finished these carefree nine-patches - I now only have to trim them to size and send them off - a matter of an hour's work tomorrow.

And I finished up the dreaded (there's that word again) Ball and Chain blocks - there are 12 here, most of these colour combos have 2 blocks, except the green and one of the blues. So I just need to trim the loose threads and send these and the 18" blocks off to Teresa, and that's that swap (Batik and Black) sorted. Whew.

So I had a chance to start making more lanterns for the Oriental Lantern Swap, which hasn't even closed yet, so I'm ahead of the game on that one. Pictures of that later...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Batik Bedazzler II

So here they are - the 20 blocks for this swap. Very effective if I do say so myself. And the blocks I get back will look nice too - a bit more texture of course, because there will be more variety of blues and creams used, presumably.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Batik Bedazzler

Felt a bit better today - enough to do some work. I fancied something different, so decided to get a bit of a start on these paper-pieced blocks for another swap (OK, I confess - I just like making blocks. There, now you know. Yes, I put them into top sometimes, which is fun. And yes, I even quilt them sometimes, which is also enjoyable, but basically, I just like making blocks. And postcards. Mustn't forget postcards.)

Anyway, these are called Batik Bedazzler, from Quilter's Cache. They are pretty quick to do and I made a start on about 20 of them, but only finished about 4 - two shown here because the others are like these, essentially. Some of them will be different, with the cream towards the centre and the blue to the outside, but I started with these. Maybe will finish them on the weekend - I've got a couple of very busy days coming up with no sewing time in sight, so it was nice to have enough energy to do some work. And just because I'm a good girl, I did do one more Ball and Chain block as well - only 3 more to go, hoorah!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Under the weather

I seem to have come down with a bit of a bug - hopefully it will pass off by tomorrow, but this afternoon was terrible - I actually was so tired after walking over to the shop that I came home and sat out in the sun for an hour reading, followed by an hour's nap. I seem to have a little more energy now (i.e. I can actually sit upright and use the computer!) so perhaps tomorrow will be ok. Luckily, it's not a stomach bug, just one where you feel really tired and your muscles are all achy. And I have a sore throat.

But before I starting going downhill this morning, I did do a little sewing - made 6 more pairs of black & white and bright blocks, as well as one more of the ball and chain blocks - only four more of those to go, and then they can go in the post, hoorah! I hope that tomorrow I will more energy as I'd really like to get those ball and chain blocks done.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Frayed fabric cards

A very busy day today, but did manage to make a start tonight on the postcards with the frayed fabric theme. Basically I just cut some wedges and bonded them onto a background - I will add some stitching to hold the wedges down, and maybe a little beadwork for fun. I think a few beads nestled here and there would look nice. Simple, but I hope effective.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Black and white and bright all over

Mostly what I did today was make some more of these carefree nine-patch blocks in black and white and brights - I love doing these as they are so easy and cheerful. I also made one more ball and chain block while I was working on these, and a few bits and pieces, but it was mostly these. There are a few more pairs which are the same as these, so I didn't show them. A nice batch of sewing for a sunny day!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Saturday's ACTUAL blog...

Nothing done yesterday (well, I say nothing, but what I mean is nothing sewing related - I helped in the nursery and went to Ikea in the afternoon so it's not really nothing! At Ikea I bought the lovely stripey duvet cover I didn't buy last time - it's my friend Lorayne's fault - I showed it to her and said "I almost bought this last time I was here" and being the good friend she is, she told me it would look great in my bedroom and I should get it. Well, how could I resist. Anyway, once I got it home and on the bed, the black and white quilt that was hanging on the wall didn't look right anymore, so I had to hang a different one... A photo of that later, the light has gone now...)

Anyway, today I did do some sewing, interspersed with helping Olivia make some bead people (a birthday present two birthdays ago, but it's been put away as it's actually a bit hard for a child to do alone - it has an 8+ age on it, and I think that's about right - she's still only 7. But they came out well in the end). I made two more of the ball and chain blocks and started on some black and white and bright carefree nine-patch blocks for yet another swap - I couldn't resist these, as they are really simple and I think will make an excellent baby quilt as some point. I also began sewing together the Thimbleberries stlye snail's trail blocks I made awhile back. Yes, they were originally supposed to be for a swap, but I realised that because I used the paper piecing pattern as a guide to making mine (I didn't pp them in the end) they are all backwards (the snails go round the wrong way). So I'm not swapping them, just sewing them together to make a small quilt top. No photo of that, but I'll put one up when it's together.

The other thing I did is wash and dry the frayed fabric I made the other day and the good news is that it really frayed a lot. Not sure how much it shows in this photo, but trust me, it frayed. I'm still not entirely sure what I'll do with it, but I'll come up with something. Might add some beads peeping out here and there. We'll see.

Thursday's blog

A bit behind the times! But I did get a lot of work done Thursday - firstly, finished the IWD postcards so I could get them in the post in time. And one of the extras is going off in the post to Angela, who particularly admired them. (I have a few more, so if anyone likes them and wants to swap, leave me a comment!) As all that was left to do was the satin stitching around the edges, it didn't take too long.

Next, I made two more ball and chain blocks for the batik and black swap:

These are coming along slowly but surely - as I said before, I decided I don't really like making this block, but at least the finished product looks ok. The seam allowance for the edges of the "balls" looks a bit funny, but once they are sewn to something, they will improve, I'm sure.

And I started making a piece of frayed fabric for another postcard swap (theme: frayed fabric, obviously). I sewed a number of layers of fabric together and stitched varying widths apart from 1/4 inch to about an inch, then sliced through all the layers but the bottom, as you would making chenille, for instance. I used the colourshott fabrics, as I know they have a natural tendency to fray anyway - then the piece will go through the washer and dryer and hopefully come out very frayed - (it did - picture to follow). Then I will cut it into shapes or something and make postcards from it. Not sure quite what I'm going to do yet - something abstracts, no doubt.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Sewn but not blogged...

After I uploaded the better picture of my new quilt yesterday, I forgot to blog again about what I'd worked on - d'oh! Anyway, with an entire day of quilting time, I did manage to get quite a bit done. I feel much better now about all the committments I have...

The first thing was to make two more 18 inch King's Highway blocks for the black and batik swap - I like the colour balance on these much better and am very pleased with them. [I was going to post a picture of them, but blogger just won't do it without making the text all doo-lally, so I'll just have to put a link here instead...]

I now have to do the 9 inch blocks for the same swap - I think there are 12 to do; I am doing a ball and chain block and I have to say, I was not very happy with the first one I did, but the second one came out much better. The HST units in this block are really small, and a bit fiddly, but the effect is nice when the block is finished, so I think it's worth it. When these are done, I don't think I'll be making it again... Anyway, I got two done yesterday, and will do the others (or some of them anyway) today. They are in a variety of colours - whatever I happened to have in small (but big enough) scraps in my batik box.

And finally, I managed to nearly finish my postcards for International Women's Day - all that remains to do is the satin stitch around the edges, and they can go off in the post this afternoon, with a March 8th postmark, which is appropriate, if slightly later than I have hoped to have them posted. Oh well, these things happen. And there are about 4 extras, so they can go in my growing stash of surplus postcards, to be used in other open theme swaps later in the year. Or for birthdays. Or whatever.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Buffy's quilt - the better photo

Here's a much better photo. The colour is pretty close to true, and the photo is higher resolution, so it shows the whole thing well. It's fabulous, isn't it. All day today when I went into the bedroom, it kept making me smile.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Yippee, yahoo.

So, here it is. This is my quilt from the QuiltSwap (for which I made Sunset from another Planet). This photo does not show it well (it's a cropped version of a photo that shows it in situ - forgot to take a closer one of the complete quilt and it's too dark now - d'oh!), I will attempt another one tomorrow if it isn't raining. It's by Australian quilt artist Buffy Beggs, and is called Battery: Randomization - it was inspired, she says, by the abstract designs her computer music player shows when playing music - when she told me that, I understood immediately!

Anyway, here are some better photos, with detail:

Oh, and I keep meaning to say, my Sunset quilt has gone to live with Jacquie in Vermont (US) - hopefully it will be very happy there with her!