Sunday, December 31, 2006

I forgot to add in my post yesterday that if you click on this link to Amazon, you can read an excerpt from 'The Quilters'.

Last night I made a red and white square for Clare at Dordogne Quilter. It was a complete cheat really, I had some red bandana-print fabric and just cut out the hearts, fused them on and blanket stitched round the edge. Kind of effective though, I think. I might do some more like that - at least I know they'll come out at 8 1/2 inches square.

I'm still cutting out the pieces for the lilac, green and cream quilt, which is slow work - I've got about 60 different fabrics and each fabric is used just once for each block part (hope this makes sense, Keryn of Quilting Twin explains it much better here in her blog, which is where I got the pattern and idea from). At the end I'll have 8 bags of fabric, for the different components of each block, numbered 1 to 8. I'm not going to lay out the pieces first, I'm just going to dip my hand into the bag and pull out the bundle that I come to first and when I have 8 bundles numbered 1-8, I'll have all the parts for the block and it'll come out how it comes out. Each block has to look different, because no fabric is used twice for a particular part of the design. I am so looking forward to the random scrappiness of making the quilt, but it could be some time before I have all the pieces cut.

I will try to take a pic of the finished Antique Cutie tomorrow - I think I need to do it outside in the light, meant to do it today but forgot about it whilst cooking New Year's Eve lunch for my parents and my brother and sister in law. Weather's terrible anyway - really windy and rainy, some cities have postponed their New Year's Eve celebrations.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

What I've been reading

I ordered this book, second hand, before Christmas and it arrived on 23rd December, just before we set off for Carlisle and read it while I was there, in one sitting. I'm sure many of you in the US will be familiar with it, but if you are not, I implore you - go out to your library and borrow a copy. It is so fascinating to hear stories about quiltmaking in the early years of the last century and the relationship between the making of the quilts and the lives of the women. Their lives were so hard and the quiltmaking gave them both the opportunity to express themselves artistically but also to come together socially. Psychologically, it was an activity that took their minds away from the everyday hardships. I have been thinking about this and I do think there are parallels in the modern world. Whilst our lives are not hard physically as they were for the pioneer women, they are stressful, the world seems to move at breakneck speed. I work full time and I know full well that if I didn't have a craft activity of some sort to return to in my 'leisure' time, my quality of life would be diminished. For me, as I have said in my profile, the act of making something is as good as it gets. I have found that once something is completed I lose interest, I don't have much compulsion to keep everything. It's a bit like building a den in the garden when you are little, it's the building of it out of sticks and grass and whatever that is enjoyable, once it's built, the buzz has gone.

The stories in the book reminded me of my grandmother. My Nan was always making things, for as long as I knew her. She used to make wedding dresses in the forties, and in the fifties she made beautiful dance dresses for my Mum, sadly none of which survive. When I was little she made all of my dresses, I don't have any of those either, which I would dearly love to. She was always doing something, and her sewing machine was always 'up' in her front room, it was never put away. Later on, she took up crochet, but like those pioneer women, she didn't buy new wool. She went to jumble sales and bought old handknitted garments and washed them and unravelled them to re-use the wool. One of the first recyclers, I think - though this would be entirely in keeping with the women in the book, who rarely bought 'new' fabric. When I went to university she made me an afghan to go on my bed and it was bright and cheerful and everyone admired it. My Nan did the Daily Mirror general knowledge crossword every day and she bought me books, whole carrier bags full of books, because I loved to read.

So, I'm not making any New Year's resolutions (other than to try to be a little bit more organised so that I can buy myself a bit more time). For me, sewing and quilting isn't about the finish, it's about the doing. (Though to be fair I do like to have 'finishes' - I don't have many WIPS). I do what I can do in the time that I've got and I don't beat myself up if I can't. I have enough deadlines and tasks to complete in my working life, I'm not about to replicate that at home.

Talking of the home front, we have had a lovely day today. My friend and her small daughter came round this morning to play on DS's Nintendo Wii (very scarce still in the UK). DD had a friend sleep over and a friend of DS came round in the afternoon. I love for my kids to have their friends round. Because we lived in the country when I was young, that just didn't happen spontaneously. Since I was 18 I have always vowed to live on a bus route. Public transport = freedom as far as I'm concerned.

Blimey, this has been a bit of a philosophical post - must be that glass of Pinot Grigio Frizzante!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Crochet Squares

We spent Christmas in Carlisle and came back yesterday. Whilst I was there I crocheted some squares for an afghan maybe. The patterns were from this book by Jan Eaton, there are lots of different patterns that you can mix and match, just like patchwork! (Vera also has some lovely pictures of crocheted afghans on her blog today) I've had the book for a while and it's interesting to try to crochet all of the different squares, though I think experienced crocheters might find the patterns quite easy. I like to crochet, but I'm certainly not the world's best - yup, the squares are all meant to be the same size, say no more! I don't worry too much, they'll stretch!

In the background in the photo is a present from DH, a daylight task lamp. It was a real bargain, they usually retail at around £45 here in the UK but this one was on special offer for £16 - probably because it is the most vile shade of pastel pink. I don't care, it does the job and provides the light I want.

I don't have to go back to work until January 3rd so today I finished quilting Antique Cutie and machined the binding on. I love to handsew binding down so I'm looking forward to doing that tonight - I'll post a picture when it's all done.
And finally, proof that I'm getting older (and possibly wiser) - the January sales have started and I can't be bothered to go. All this getting and spending over the Christmas period gets a bit much - why waste time in shops when you can sit at home quilting?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Signing off for Christmas

Oh yeah, I hear you cry, thought she'd signed off for December anyway! Well, I promise to be a better (note that was better, not beta) blogger next year.

Today was my last day in my job at the place where I have worked for the last 15 and a half years. When I started there my daughter was only 18 months old and I weighed a delightful 116 lbs, now she is nearly 17 and I weigh significantly more than that! (But, like Patti, I will do something about that in the New Year). The years have seen the best of times and the worst of times but as always, wherever you work, it's the people you work with that make the difference - whilst not many of them have now worked there as long as me, I do count them among my friends and a few tears were shed today.

But ... at the same time I am looking forward to my new job, I already know most of the people working there and I'm ready for the challenge.

I'm going to have a good rest over the holidays - maybe do a bit of crochet as well as quilting - we'll see, like Nancy, I'm not setting any goals.

Wishing everyone who reads this a peaceful holiday and a happy New Year.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I couldn't resist buying this Christmas decoration for my mantelpiece when I saw it yesterday. It has tealights behind the houses to give out a glow - you can see the back of the house reflected in the mirror that's above the mantelpiece. Sorry about the blurry picture quality but I had to take it without a flash and I don't have a tripod (I did try balancing the camera on the end of a broomhandle but let me tell you it doesn't work).

Nothing even vaguely quilty to show. Today I did stitch in the ditch (which in certain areas turned into 'stitch somewhere near the ditch') on Antique Cutie and now and then I have been cutting out pieces for the green and lavender quilt, which is taking me a surprisingly long time.

I am feeling guilty as I haven't commented on posts as much as I usually do - my only excuse is that I am still really busy at work - despite the fact that I leave in two weeks. I keep reminding them, but it doesn't seem to have sunk in as I still keep having to answer technical queries, get invited to meetings and work out processes. As I said to my boss, it's a good job I've got integrity because most people would have taken their foot off the gas by now whereas I'm still going at full speed.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Oh my, I've taken the leap and switched to beta blogger - hope it doesn't play up. Seems they must have ironed out the wrinkles that first occurred when people switched as I've noticed a few people have now switched and it seems okay.
The picture shows an advent calendar that I made probably 12 or 14 years ago. Didn't know anything about patchwork and quilting but I saw the instructions in a magazine and made it up. I'd love to say I put it up faithfully every year but ... every year I lose either the piece of dowelling to hang it up with or else the hooks that go over the picture rail. This year though I managed to find the hooks and something to thread through the loops at the top. In previous years I've gone rather more to town and wrapped up small individual presents but this year the kids will have to make do with a chocolate each in the pockets.