Saturday, 30 January 2016

RSC16 - Last of the Blues

If you have read my blog before, you will know I have been participating in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for a couple of years now.  I have started off with a few different blocks this year.  Lets see how long I can keep that up!  LOL
 
The colour for January is blue.  I showed you my Scrappy Sussanah block in a previous post here.  This week I have been playing with my blue scraps again.  First up I made a Stacks and Stacks block.
 
 
 
I found a tutorial by Stephanie for that on the Little Lady Patchwork blog.  It was a super simple block to make up and ends up 9" finished.  I decided to use a light grey print as a background instead of the white in the tute, and as you can see there's a smidge of purple in amongst all that blue.  That is because in a departure from usual, we have an accent colour each month this year, and January's is purple.
 
One little block like that didn't use up many of my scrappy strips, so I really think that this block would be good all in one colour.  Still it was fun, and I'm looking forward to seeing it in rainbow colours.
 
The next thing I did was take my bag of blue 2" squares to Friday Quilters with me yesterday to see if I could do some damage to it.
 
I made up one blue postage stamp block. 

 
I still had a little time at the end of the morning before we had to leave the hall, so I started making up some little 4-patches.

 
Photographed on my dirty old ironing board cover!  Seeing it here makes me realise I need a new one.  LOL.  The plan for these is to make a few more and put triangles on the corners setting the 4-patches on point.  Still wondering if I'll do the corners in the colour of the month or in a light background colour.  I'll have to do a few trial runs.
 
Linking this post up to the RSC linky here when the post goes up later tonight.
 
Last year I joined up in the Scrap Dance Mystery quilt along run by Carole who blogs at From My Carolina Home. But travel, illness, life and Christmas just got in the way, so I haven't got it finished.  This week I got it out, finished the remaining blocks, decided that it needed one more row to lengthen it a tad, and made them up.
 
This is where I am at - ready to join the blocks into a top.

 
I use a flannel back table cloth to set out my blocks when I am up to this stage.  I can roll it up to stow it away or carry it rolled/folded to my weekly quilt group.  I'm getting there with this one.
 
I enjoyed this so much that I have decided to join into Carole's new Mystery QAL, Scrap Dance Tango.  You'll see the little icon on my right side bar.  If you click on that, or here, you can go take a look at the details of the Mystery.  It's not too late to join in if it takes your fancy. Do join in, it's fun.
 
These are the fabrics I have pulled for the quilt.
 
 
I have begun cutting the blocks I need from that pile.  There are 315 scrappy 3.5" background squares cut, and mostly marked with a diagonal line.  And 252 scrappy 2.5" background squares cut.  I have chosen to do the background in soft cream/bone fabrics.  I am planning to do the lap quilt size.
 
Carole has the first link up today here which I am going to join up.  There is also a Flickr group and there's a hashtag for the QAL on Instagram at #scrapdancequiltalong.
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Reading

Do you like to read?

I do, but it seems that I tend to read in fits and starts.  I go for a while reading everything in sight, then find I don't read for ages.  Right now, I'm in a "nose buried in a book" phase.

Back here I told you that I was reading an Elm Creek Quilts book, and Nell, who blogs here, commented and suggested I try out some of Marie Bostwick's books in the Cobbled Court series.

My library didn't have book one in the series, in fact there are only a few in the whole state!  But I ordered "A Single Thread" on inter-library loan.  What a fantastic service that is.  For a measly $6.50, this terrific book landed in my library all the way from Ballina (far north coast of NSW), and I got a phone call to tell me it was there.

 
It was a great read.  Thank you Nell for suggesting it.  If you haven't read this series, I suggest you go find it at your library.  Evelyn Dixon opens a quilt shop in the little town of New Bern, Connecticut, and in the process finds friendships she didn't expect. 
 
So then of course I wanted book two in the series, a thread of truth.

This one came from Orange, about 5 hours due west of us.  The shop, Cobbled Court Quilts is beginning to flourish.  The main theme through this book is domestic violence.   The next couple in this series are in my library, so I am planning to move onto them shortly.

You can read a bit more about Marie Bostwick and her writing here.

The day I went into the library to order book two of the series, I was poking around trying to find something interesting to read until book two turned up.  You know the story - too much choice.  I couldn't make up my mind what to read.  So then I thought, why not the first book on the shelf of  "A"s.  This is what it was....

 
It was a wee bit of a worry just grabbing that book, but when I flipped it over I thought it would be OK.  It was a murder mystery and that's the genre I like.  But it had a twist.  The main character, Peter Grant, was a copper in a sort of secret division of the London Metropolitan police which dealt with ghosts.  Although it wasn't badly written, I just couldn't get past the wizards and spells as part of the staid London Met!   I am not into fantasy, so I won't be on the look out for any more of his.

If you would like to find out more about Ben Aarondovitch, his bio is here

Now I am reading a sweet little book my friend Fiona lent me, "A Fine Romance" by Susan Branch.
This is basically a travel journal, about their trip to England.  She and her husband travel on the Queen Mary and then stay in the English countryside, visiting historic homes and gardens.  The description of driving on the "wrong side of the road" is hilarious, but so real.  I know how I felt when in the States and in Europe, on the "wrong side of the road".  There are so many whimsical drawings and pictures in it, its a delight to read.  I'm really glad I am only half way through this.
   
Susan Branch has an interesting blog, jam packed with tons of good things here.  Have a look on the "Home Sweet Home" tab.  There is a section there on quilts.  She has a lovely collection of antique quilts which are showcased there.

When I am done with this book, I will head back to the library and grab the last book on the "Z" shelf.  Hopefully it will be something I enjoy.

So, til next time.....go read a book. :)

Sunday, 24 January 2016

RSC16 - Blue for January

I have decided to join in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge again this year, run by Angela at SoScrappy.  I love scrappy quilting and have really enjoyed the discipline of the last two years, sewing in the colour of the month. (Thank you Angela for organising this!)
 
I have dithered for a while about which blocks to make this year.  I made a sample and showed it off here, but in the end decided I would not do that set of blocks.  Bottom line, I don't think it would benefit in being in rainbow colours.  I think each block would look better in a mix of lots of colours.  I'll use that tutorial to make a quilt, but not for the RSC.
 
So back to square one, I had a look on the web and found a sweet little block called "Scrappy Sussanah" in a tutorial by Andy on the blog A Bright Corner.  The colour for January this year is Blue - any blue.  I made up two little blocks.
  
 
You know me though, I had to alter it!  I made it with 2.5" squares instead of the size in the tutorial.  One thing the RSC has taught me (as if I didn't already know it) is that I like making blocks with itty bitty pieces.  I really don't like those big 12" blocks.  This one will finish at 8".
 
There's still a week to go of January, so I am planning to do some more blocks in blue this week, but I want to do strippy blocks to get those blue strips used up.
 
Anyone with an Instragram account out there?  I have set up a hashtag at #rainbowscrapchallenge2016.  There's one for 2015 too.  Please feel free to post photos of your blocks/quilts.
 
I also managed to finish off the rainbow Jacob's Ladder quilt.  I made these blocks in 2014 for the RSC.

 
I had to make an extra 4 blocks to make it a little bigger, and I remade a bunch of the blocks because I had set the steps going the wrong way.  I'm glad I did that.  It looks way better this way.  The top went with me to Stitching Hearts last Thursday for completion.
 
Yesterday I decided to make a little pouch for myself.  I go to the Mitchell Library on Tuesdays to do research.  Each week I struggle with a bunch of small stuff - pencil, phone, USB stick, library card, you know all those things that fall out of your hands as you trek back to the locker room.  So I dug out some cute scraps and came up with this..... (not the clock!)

 
I've made this pouch before, from a tutorial here.  It is really simple to make, except that I was fighting my machine yesterday and really getting frustrated.  I know, I know.  A bad tradesman always blames his tools......
 
Anyway here is what the inside looks like.

 
Its the perfect size for what I need and it will get a trial run tomorrow. 
 
Linking up this post with this week's link up at SoScrappy.  Please take the time to go take a look at what some of the others have created.
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Sewing RSC Rainbows

Happy New Year everyone.  Thank you for taking the time to read my blog over the past year.  May 2016 be a happy and creative one for you.

I have spent the last week or so putting together some of the blocks I have made for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge

Firstly I tackled the pile of Twinkler Stars I made over the course of last year.  With the enormous pile of blocks I had, I still had to make 3 more pink ones to use this design. 

 
I toyed with putting borders on it, but actually I think it doesn't need borders.  So I am calling this one done.  I loved making these throughout last year, and I enjoyed putting them together.  Such a cheerful top.  But you know, the pile of Twinklers does not look at all diminished, and there should be at least two more tops this size in the pile.

Next I chose to tackle the Crossroads Blocks I made through last year.

 
I had made up 12 blocks for the RSC during 2015, but really it needed to be a 4 x 4 layout which meant I had to construct 4 more blocks.  I made them in Teal, Lavender, Gold and dark Claret.

 
And here is the finished top.  It is lap size.
 
 
I like this block.  It was an easy one to make and used up lots of bits of 2.5" strips.  It too, didn't need borders.
 
Both of these are going to be donations to Stitching Hearts.
 
The one I am still in the process of constructing is the Jacob's Ladder blocks I made during 2014.  This quilt is jinxed.

I laid it out several ways, but decided I wanted to go for this layout.  Photo bombed by Tibby, and a stray ray of sunshine where the blinds don't quite meet.

 
After laying it all out, I realised that some of the blocks have the "steps" going the wrong way on the "ladder".  My friend Fiona actually told me about that at the start of the year, but I thought it would look OK.  Not only that, but I didn't heed her warning and made a whole bunch more going the wrong way. 
 
I left it on my floor for a few days debating whether I wanted to reconstruct them or not.  Bottom line is that I couldn't live with it.  That meant I had to rip 8 blocks and resew them. 
 
If you are wondering what I am on about, take a look at the top two blocks on the right in the photo above, the purple and the orange.  The "steps" are going correctly on the purple one, but the wrong way on the orange.  And if you still don't see it, here is a photo of the orange blocks. 
 
 
The top two are the "before" photo and show the "steps" going the wrong way, and the bottom two are the "after" picture.
 
After reconstructing all 8 blocks that needed doing, I found that I had sewn up the last one back into the original layout.  Grrrrrr!!!!  (Worst things said in the quiet of my sewing room!)  More unpicking.......
 
I also decided it needed 4 more blocks to make it into a small single for a child.  So I made up 2 more dark blue ones, and 2 brown.
 
 
After making the extra blocks, I decided that I didn't want the pink one or the green one I had made, and abandoned them in favour of 2 brown ones.  So in all I made 6 blocks extra, not the 4 I intended to make.
 
Here is where I am at - ready to sew the blocks together.

 
It's been like that for several days.  To be honest I am a bit sick of it.  I'll get back to it shortly.
 
The other day I talked about which blocks I want to make for this year's challenge here.  I decided to make up a block to see how it looked.
 
 
I made this before the colour for January was announced, so it is in green.  But I have decided that this is the wrong block set for the RSC.  Each of 9 patches in the original photo is in a variety of colours, and the snowball is constructed to tone into the 9 patches it is adjacent to.  I know that if I don't do the two blocks at the same time, I will end up with a UFO for a long time.  So although I love this, I am looking for another block to make up for this challenge.
 
Linking up to tonight's RSC link up post here.  Why not go take a look at what others have done.  Better still, join in.  Its great fun to work on scraps for the colour of the month.
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Update to the Sewing Space

Back in November, I was prowling the shops one day, with The Man tagging along impatiently behind me, looking to update my sewing table.  All of a sudden he pipes up and says "Why don't I get you one of those for Christmas and your birthday?"
 
Not one to pass up an offer like that, I jumped at the chance, and eventually chose the style and colour etc. at my local sewing machine centre.  That paid off as I get good service there, and mostly a discount on stuff too.  The boxes were delivered about 5 days before Christmas.
 
He had said "I'll put it together" which apart from anything else was a saving of $120.  But I'm sure he envisaged a task of a couple of hours, but in the end he spent about 10 hours putting it together. 
 
What's next??

First bit constructed

All done
Not having to pay for the table I had planned to purchase, I dithered just a flash, and bought a new machine.  Although I loved my Bernina 440, it was used when I bought it, and is now very well used.  I have upgraded to a Bernina 720 and I am planning on selling the old machine to part fund this one.

 
Now all that needs to happen is for me to learn how to use it!  It is very hi tech and the first time I sat down to it, I was a bit freaked.  It felt like I had 10 left thumbs.  LOL.

The new set up
I also took the opportunity to tidy up my room a bit.  Not showing the other side of the room as it is still a bit chaotic.  LOL

For my first lot of sewing on the new equipment, I decided to do some simple piecing to familiarise myself with all the buttons etc. on the new machine.   I made up some dark blue bow tie blocks, to finish off the RSC for 2015.  Now all I need to do is piece the blocks into tops.


In the week since Christmas, I have done lots of sewing.  In the couple of months before the end of the year, I brought home about 5 or 6 tops from Stitching Hearts which needed borders or backings or both.  All but one have been done.  I think I have only 5 left thumbs now.  (heh heh).  I'm not going to show you photos as none of it is really my sewing.

Not quite ready to tackle the mountain of quilting that needs to be done.  Apart from anything else, I am still waiting on the table insert for the new table. 

Apart from lots of sewing, I have been doing some preserving.  On the Sunday after Christmas, a friend gave me three buckets of fruit.

 
There were two sorts of plums - yellow and red, peaches, nectarines and a whole pile of avocados too.  All from a farm locally.  Most were windfalls, so a bit riper than they should be for preserving.  I had no place to store them, so they had to be processed immediately before they rotted in the heat of our summer.
 
I made the plums into jam.  The yellow plums were the ripest, so they were the first cab off the rank.

 
I prepped the peaches for jam and froze them until I had a bit more time to cook it up, and stewed up a batch of the red plums and also the nectarines.  Both are frozen for later.  There is a bowl full of fruit in the fridge for eating.  I also want to make some marmalade for His Nibs (he's English and he is very fond of his marmalade), but I'm a bit jammed out at present.

What have you been up to these holidays?

Til next time.....Keep on stitching.