Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A finished object - Chemo quilt

G'day all!

It is now six years since I started quilting.

Six years!

I blame Dana from OldRedBarnCo.  She started a quiltalong that was going to be easy for beginners to do.  I already had a stash of fabric even though I didn't make anything bar the odd project bag for knitting.  Okay, so I was already itching to learn how to quilt but I needed an excuse.  She led me to the Dark Side and I've never looked back.

So I've got a few quilts under my belt now and a machine that is pretty good for machine quilting on now that I've worked out the kinks (aka buy good quality high speed sewing machine needles, tweak the bobbin tension and get smooth multiple ply thread).

It was time to finish off an old quilt.  One that had given me problems through no fault of the lead of that round of the quiltalong (JayBirdQuilts - yep part of the way she got her start was through Dana's quiltalong).  Nope, it was me who cut half the blocks out one way and half of them another way, and ne'er the twain shall meet.   The blocks were so simple too - just sew two 2.5" strips together and then cut them into 60 degree triangles, then arrange as you fancy.

I was on chemo at the time and that is my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Therefore I call this my Chemo quilt.  It looks quite good from afar

Sorry about cutting the last row off,
I'm not quite tall enough...

And some of the blocks look quite fine

See, that's not too shabby

And others, umm, well... oops.

Oh dear

But on the whole, there are lots of nice blocks in this quilt, and I had a super fun time quilting it.

Nice flowers and feathers

Some of the quilting looks quite regular and nice - flowers and feathers and stuff

See?  Nice!

Then I deliberately wonked some of it up - just like on chemo when you think you have everything worked out and your act in gear, you realise that in fact you aren't holding everything together and you are at the brink of collapse.  The feathers look beautiful for a while then they become less regular and start doing their own thing.

Wonked up and jaggy.

Just like on chemo some days you feel okay and other days everything is jaggy and wrong.

Label.  Yep, I put a label on this one.

But even then, you still try to make life beautiful.

Random stippling

I must thank someone (whom I can't remember now, dang chemo) who gave me all of her scraps when I ran out.  I must've thrown out the good bits (danged chemo) and kept the scrappy bits because I only had rubbishy little bits and I needed more blocks.  She had already sewn hers into a rail fence and strips.  I pulled some apart to make the blocks I needed and the rest feature on the back of the quilt.  Thank you whomever you are, I really appreciate your generosity.

I cut the end off the back too in the photo.  Oops.

Thank heavens I'm five years out and counting from finishing chemo.  It certainly gave me a new appreciation for life and for those who have to go through chemo and the crap that cancer brings.  Chronic illness too.

The red end of the quilt does exist, see?
Also the stitching seems to stick out.
Don't you love optical illusions?

I've been giving away a lot of my quilts but this one I am keeping.  It is a record of where I was then and it also is a bright and cheery quilt.


Don't try this at home.  I missed my finger 8-)

Friday, September 11, 2015

11 years

G'day all!

In wandering around looking for pics from our wedding (I have a dearth of them digitised it turns out...), I found this.

11 years today!  Crikey!  I would say how the time has flown but sometimes it has crawled...  8-)

Brave Sir Nathan

Brave Sir Nathan

Conrad Leviston, to the tune of "Brave Sir Robin"

Bravely bold Sir Nathan went
To University
He was not afraid to go,
No Brave Sir Nathan
He was not at all afraid
To learn of things arcane
Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Nathan!

He was not in the least bit scared
To join a club like FOME*
Or to sit and socialise,
No Brave Sir Nathan
To lounge inside the caf
Rather than study for his course,
And to speak on many matters Brave Sir Nathan

Like Solar cells and water tanks
And Buckey Balls and gardening
And if lifting cargo into space
Upon an elevator works
He really was a Brave Sir Nathan.

Bravely Brave Sir Nathan,
A FOME camp did attend,
He was not afraid to go,
No Brave Sir Nathan,
So he quested for a wumpus
In the woods about the camp
Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Nathan!

While questing there Sir Nathan met
The beauteous maid named Lynne
And said to her the noble words
"Hello my name is Nathan."
Staring deep into his eyes
Lynne told him "I've been cut
By a twig that's most ferocious Brave Sir Nathan."

And then his heart beat fast at her fluttering eyes
And as Lynne's cheeks blushed Nathan tried to disguise
That blood was rushing to some parts
It never had before inside
The body of the Brave Sir Nathan.

Bravely then Sir Nathan
Did meet with Lynne again.
He was not afraid to go
No Brave Sir Nathan
They roamed throughout the countryside
And purchased native plants
The coy lass and the Brave Sir Nathan

He was not in the least bit scared
To get inside her car
Her take take off speed caused no alarm
To Brave Sir Nathan
His knuckles turned not white
As she drove around the hills
And he learned the subtle art of navigation

"Take a sharp turn left and a shallow right
"Then a shallow left and a hairpin right
"A shallow left then dodge the sheep
"Please keep your wheels upon the road
"I think we're going to die!" said Nathan.

Bravely Brave Sir Nathan
Approached the wedding aisle
He was not afraid to go
No Brave Sir Nathan
He was not at all afraid
That he'd made a big mistake
Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Nathan!

He was not in the least bit scared
That she'd turn into a shrew
Or decide to nag at him
All his waking hours
That his days would seem like years
And each year eternity

(* FOME - Fellowship of Middle Earth at Monash University, originally a Tolkein apprecation society, now more a rabble of geeks and nerds geeking and nerding about SF and fantasy and finding fellowship (and other things!) in each other.)

Brave Sir Nathan indeed!

On top of Whistler, BC, Canada, August 2015.

This also means that I have been blogging for over eleven years now.  11 years!


Friday, September 04, 2015

Autumn already?

G'day all!

I am such a naughty blogger - I've got buckets to talk about and then I just don't.

And then of course I forget it all when I sit down at the computer to talk about it!

Summer has been busy.  And it was hot all through June and July, and then calmed down a bit during August mostly because it started getting smoky and smoke stops a fair whack of solar radiation getting through.

Saying goodbye to the long days of summer

And now it is flipping cold.  A week ago it was 27 C, today it was 15 C with a biting northerly wind!  I had to put a fleece jacket on and even wore one of my handknitted hats out this evening.  Oh the indignity of being plunged into Fall.

Stormy weather

And we didn't get any of the rain that other places did this week - we did get rain last weekend but missed out on all the rain this week.  However, missing out did mean that we got some sunny breaks.

So I've been madly quilting.  I got me a new machine, a straight stitch clone of the Janome 1600P.  It goes like the clappers - can do 1500 stitches per minute.  I've not been game to push that fast because I have enough difficulty keep up flat chat at about 1,000 stitches a minute (it has a speed regulator on it).  Anyway it has a large harp, which makes wrangling quilts through it so much easier!

It says it is a Singer but it's a Janome really.

It means that I've been doing a bunch of quilting, like the actual quilting of the quilts not just making tops and backings and then thinking I'll quilt them one day.

The back of the quilt below.  This quilt has
found a new home :-)

Started making this in Sydney four
years ago!

This isn't a quilt, it is just a block for a swap.

Along the way I finished my Riley Blake Modern Quilt Guild challenge quilt.  It is only small and not quite square but I had fun quilting it.

Back of the challenge quilt.

Quilting detail - easy
on my new machine!

Front of the challenge quilt.

Along the way I had so many changes of design.  I was going to go improv and then decided to incorporate some of the borders from my Modern Quilt Guild's 2015 block of the month.  I managed to get a quilt out of it so that was good!

As an aside,
that's over a kilo of eggplant there.

Mucking around, learning how to use
the Big Machine.

So I'm still working out what threads are good to use with the machine.  I had a lot of problems with it shredding thread at first  - it just tore it apart.  When I swapped to Schmetz needles (it needs high speed needles), a lot of the issues stopped.  When I swapped to a tougher, three (or more) ply cotton thread, the shredding pretty much stopped.  Tension woes also got better.  Now I've used Gutermann, Coats Cotton, Superior Thread's Masterpiece and now even Aurifil in it without any problems.  At first I was having lots of problems with the green Aurifil thread but after playing around a bit I've worked out the tension settings I think and things are pretty consistent between threads now - I just have to tweak the bobbin tension a bit.

I've quilted umm four or five quilts now on the Big Machine.  I realise I don't have pics of the two or three other quilts that I've finished.  The weather has been pretty horrible all week and not good for photography - so dull and when it's been sunny, it's been very windy, which is terrible for photographing quilts.  But it is great to get some stuff finished!

Now I have to work out what to do with them.  A friend took a bunch and was very welcome to take them.  She will love them and use them, and that is why I made the quilts.

I only have four (that I can remember) more to quilt.  The current quilt I'm working on has told me its name is Chemo.  As in chemotherapy.  Why?  Because I was working on the top when I was on chemo and when I tried to put it together, it became quite obvious that I wasn't firing on all cylinders.  I'm doing the quilting just a bit wrong on it too.

Knitting has been happening too.  I made myself a summer top and finished it just in time to wear it on our second last warm day.

It has a lace band at the base.

sigh.  Typical me... I procrastinated a lot on it because I had to work out how to incorporate the decreases in the yoke into the lace pattern.

And lace at the top.

Yep, I designed it all myself.  I used a mishmash of patterns to get the idea of how many stitches I needed for the yoke and at what rate to decrease them.

Lace detail.

I think it turned out pretty well.  Certainly is figure enhancing  :-)  Yarn is Berocco Ultra Pima and it needed four skeins of the teal but I only had three, whilst I had five of the silver and only needed three!

I've also knitted some baby stuff for my niecelet but I won't show it off until it gets to Oz.  Hopefully it is at the sorting facility now.

Oh and there's the birthday socks for DH.  He gets three pairs a year, one at Christmas, one at Valentine's (if I hurry!) and one pair for his birthday.  I thought this yarn would be perfect for him, combining his three favourite colours with black.

I think the runners out-bright the socks!

Socks under flash.

Didn't think how Halloweeny it would look.  Yarn is String Theory Colorworks Continuum (cashmere blend!) in umm Monoceros.  Pattern is the toe up socks I can do pretty much whilst asleep now.  I do one by three ribbing for four rounds then shift the purl stitch one stitch forward or back and make the rib travel left or right.  Then I start making it go back right or left.  Keeps me entertained because it is easy to see how many rounds I've done without counting.  I love being able to see progress being made!

Whilst I love the process of knitting and I love having something to do with my hands, I love having a finished object even more.  I get about 80% of the way through and get bored with it but (usually) push on.  Same with quilting.  I like building the quilt top and the quilt backing, then get pretty meh about basting (I don't like basting....), get impatient with the quilting bit and the binding and then voila!  I made this!

How about you?

Maybe it won't be such a long time between drinks and I might blog more regularly - it isn't like I don't have things to say.  Clearly ;-)