February 2008

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I’m kinda excited that it’s only one more sleep ’til the Toowoomba Quilters AGM.

Stop looking at me like that!

Seriously, I am on tenterhooks – (did you know that’s a fabric processing term, btw? It really is – linen used to be stretched and dried in the sun, and it was pegged out on hooks. There ya go.) – I am nominated for a position in the club that I think is within my abilities and time available – and I kinda want it.

Also, the Dancing Beijing challenge judging is announced tomorrow – and I’m no excited for me so much (really ! STOP looking at me like that!) as for two of my sweet quiltgals, who did the most AMAZING pieces!

I’m off to sew now.

Oh, did anyone want to hear about the weight loss thingy?

Thursday…

and I’m still procrastinating about the weight loss program… I have yet to fill out the “questionnaire” (for which read:”WHY ARE YOU SO FREAKIN’ FAT? questions) even though my appointment with the dietician for an initial consultation is at 11am tomorrow.

It’s bloody expensive – but then, how expensive is my being miserable about my weight? Hmmmm.

Had choice today between buying the new issue of Textile Fibre Forum and the new Down Under Quilts. Got TFF, and felt depressed – so much bloody amazing work! Will get DUQ after the pension comes maybe; today I spent the money on fabric instead.

Went out to Highfields to the quilt shop there today – Mr Beloved waited in the car. I bought 30cms of a green and pink polka dot print for “Tuesdays and TV”. I was really after some 1930s/40s oranges and yellows, but all they had in the right sort of prints were icky sickly pretty pastels.

Fortunately I was able to duck out to Quiltcraft later in the afternoon and scored some suitable prints. Not strictly in period, but hey, it’s a quilt being made in 2008, not in 1940, after all. I got a great yellow print with little teacups all over it – no name on the selvedge at all, though.

These prints are really growing on me. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll have any scraps left from this project – it’s tight as it is.

Something that’s bothering me about this quilt though is that all the values are so similar. There are no darks at all. And it’s BUSY.

orange flowers

Ah well – it’s just a blanket, after all.

… in a continuing series.

#3045: WHY oh WHY oh WHYYYYYYYYYYYY did the dog, who will be 4 in June and has NEVER before shown any propensity to roll in smelly things, coat herself from top to toes in POO this afternoon right before tea? (and how did she manage it?)

#3046: WHY on earth would I put the bottle of eucalyptus/peppermint oil steam inhalant mix on the top shelf of the pantry – between the AntRid and the medicinal brandy?

YES! We’re having some lovely rain again today. There is NOTHING as good as hearing rain on a tin roof.

Well, it’s Tuesday, so it must be quilters day, yes?

Yes!

I had a lovely time at what Mr Beloved cheekily refers to as “playgroup” – that’s more accurate than he knows! Honestly, I go to quilters for the company and the opinions and the chatter. Any actual hand sewing I get done is a bonus. Today I only managed to applique down one 5 inch circle, but ooooh, I had fun!

(I decided to take a different project today, even though I’d packed “Tuesdays and TV” ready to go. Having just finished Mum’s late Christmas/early Birthday pressie, I thought I’d better get a wriggle on with Dad’s.)Perfect for my almost pre-war Dad, yes?

I don’t think Dad reads the blog (I know Mum does, HI MUM!) so I can show you the fabric I was appliquéing. I could only buy 1.5 metres when I first found this print; foolishly, I thought it might be enough. Then my quilt plans changed and I decided to get all complicated and I desperately need more. (Which I HOPE, fingers crossed, I might have found on eBay… Emerald City Fabric and Crafts have been very good to me so far…)

SWOON I adore this paisley!

AND – happiness! I’ve been looking for green paisley fabric to make best friend M a Miranda bag – isn’t this just PERFECT?

The black background will really work well with free motion quilted plain black fabric – I can see more King Tut thread in my future – maybe #936 “Pharaoh’s Treasure ( “Red, med green, dark green, gold”) or my favourite (three 500 metre reels used so far this year) #910 “Bulrushes” (“brown, light sage, tan, dark sage” – this is the one I initially bought because I though the green and ochres were perfect colours for quilting Australian bush scenes.)

Dang! Somehow it has gone after midnight. I’m for bed and more of that lovely rain on the roof.

OH!  Meant to say I got Baby Pfaff (the 2034) back from the repairer today.  Dale at Downs Sewing Machine Repairs -he’s worth every cent –  that baby is purrrrrrrrrrrrrring! Makes the Goddess Pfaffalina’s trip to see him just that more urgent… I’d forgotten how smooth those machines SHOULD sound!

When did you last have your machine serviced, hmmm? 

I’m busy being quite boring, Beloved Readers – doing lots of mental preparation for the week ahead.

Monday – library trip is needed, (nothing to READ!) and a trip to the “Let’s pretend we aren’t REALLY ripping you off” medical refunds place; and checking the post box for an eagerly anticipated cheque… and to post some SURPRISES! and I have to go to the bank to get money so I can pick up my sewing machine from the repair man… and – big procrastination item , this next one: I have to find out EVERYTHING I need to know about this weight loss program.

The things that didn’t work about WW for me should be addressed if I go ahead with this one:

1. The leader refused to help when I was STUCK on a plateau for ages – there was no support.

2. And she was – well, not so bright, and would perpetuate incorrect info sometimes. Yes, I know, I’m picky. See cartoon below.

3. When I started walking a lot and put ON weight, again – no support. Grrr. No “Hey , well done, you’re walking!” either. If I’m paying money, I want CHEERING, dammit.

Nope, doesn’t resemble ANYONE in this household, nope…

Also, my wonderful GP (general practitioner, my primary care doctor) would be doing the medical support side of the program – I feel like I have a better chance of success with her actually taking the allergies and injuries and other medications into account, you know?

BTW, I get REALLY REALLY tired and pissed off with people who try to tell me that weight loss is “A simple energy equation” and that if I “eat less and exercise more” the whole thing will be solved. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Let’s just ignore the chronic fatigue/back injuries/depression/coeliac disease/polycystic ovaries, and thryoid issues then, will we? FUCKERS!!!

Ahem.

Tuesday: Quilters. Don’t know if I’ll have time to prepare what I want to do as a demo on flying geese – we’ll see. Actually, aiming for NEXT Tuesday would be better, cos then the club AGM will be out of the way. Good.

When we last saw Our Heroine….

I’ve made some more progress on my Tuesdays and TV quilt (here’s what it looked like a couple of months ago) by stitching during the boring bits (ad breaks and safety car laps!) of the V8 Supercars today, and again during the boring bits of the prancing. The LQS might even have FINALLY got more of the precut paper triangles in, since the ones I have are quite battered after being pieced over and pulled out three or four times each.

English Paper Piecing is the perfect activity for Tuesday Quilters meetings, cos I can do it while I’m talking. And if I can’t chatter to my quiltgals while I’m there, I might as well stay at home and sew by myself (and that would be BAD, cos I get a bit cabin-fever-ish after a few days.)

And that’s as far as I’ve got in the planning so far.

So what have I been doing?

Mystery bag…

Well, I’ve made another Miranda bag – here’s a sneak peek. (dontcha hate that you never see those stray threads until photography? Arrgh!)

Got to post two on Monday, and I was hoping to get a third done but – it’s too HOT.

And today was the first race of the V8 Supercars season – wooohooooo! Because it’s a 500km total race, the second 250kms will be run tomorrow. Can’t wait!

Tuesday I overdid things and it’s taken me until Saturday arvo to really get back on top 🙁 Was going to go to the movies (and possibly see the delicious Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd) but all three of us were way too tired – so we had tea and chatter at Vicki’s instead. Chriss and Vicki are both newish Toowoomba quilters, and lots of fun.  But coming on top of spending 10- 3ish at Quilters, I probably should have slept in between, not gone racing round on errands…

Wednesday I went to the doctors – still haven’t gone and got the bloodwork done, oops – and I’m coming round to the idea of at least finding out more about this new medically managed weight loss program. Problem could be the $$- it’s not cheap.

Today is the hottest day of Summer so far (35 inside the house – although the Bureau claim 31. Nope! Yesterday wasn’t far behind at 34/ 30…)

We have Western facing windows in the bedroom, bathroom and sewing room- which means on hot days, those rooms get hotter and hotter – it’s just not bearable to go into them from about 11am until around 9pm. I’m hoping we’ll be able to get some sort of blinds/awnings to help with that….

It’s finally cooled down enough to go to the sewing room – I’m off to cut some sheet acrylic.

Absobloodylutely EXHAUSTED.  More blood tests tomorrow and a recommendation for a weight loss clinic from the doctor….

Three Years Already

Nif

Jennifer Patricia Miller (“Nif”)

18 January 1971 – 19-Feb 2005

My beautiful, funny, passionate, smart sister.

We weren’t all that close as grown ups, but knew we could count on each other unconditionally.

I still miss her all the time. She was at peace with her decision not to undergo radio or chemo therapy after her initial surgery for brain cancer. It all happened so fast – she found out about the tumor in July, and died in February.

The hospice care was amazing. Mum and Dad pretty much moved up to Sydney to look after her and be with her while she was in the Sacred Heart Hospice in Darlinghurst. I’m so glad they had that time together.

Sometimes it feels like three years has passed in a day – and sometimes it feels like forever.

Off to Quilters tomorrow – hopefully this week I will get some actual sewing done! Ive dragged out Elspeth, my poor little Scottish Featherweight (Singer 221) who has been sadly neglected since the Sisters Pfaff arrived in 2004. Little Pfaff (the 2034) has been in hospital and I can’t afford to get her home until Wednesday – oh noes! She was well overdue for a service. The Goddess Pfaffalina (2144 with the 2170 upgrade) is due for her grease and oil change next…

Featherweight 221It’s so long since I’ve sewn on Elspeth that I have no idea where the quarter inch foot has gone. I gave her a warm up this evening to get the lube flowing again, and downloaded a threading diagram (yes, it’s been THAT long!)

(this isn’t Elspeth – just a generic pic from somewhere. But Elspeth looks like this.)

She was made in Clydebank in 1951 (you can tell by the serial number, which starts with EH – hence ElspetH) and sews very sweetly. One of the things I love about old straight stitch machines is that they only do one thing – sew forwards and backwards in a straight line – but they do it so very well. I’m quite looking forward to playing on her tomorrow!

I was hoping to get a lesson plan and printouts done this week to have a demonstration at Quilters (foundation pieced flying geese, with variations) but I slept instead. I was wiped all weekend and slept for another few hours this arvo. Sheesh! at least I have a quilt top section that shows one of the variations – just got to dig it up from the sewing room to take.

I did manage to get my hospital admission (day procedure) sorted out though – just waiting on pre-admission to call me back for the medical history on Friday. One more thing OFF the procrastination list! Oh, and bought more interfacing for another couple of Miranda bags – long overdue gifties.

Right – tomorrow is a long hard day. There’s an anniversary to deal with, quilters, and then movies with the girls – I better get my beauty sleep!

my “Miranda” bag - pattern by Joan Hawley

TA DA! I made this bag last night (and a teensy bit this morning.) It’s the Miranda Day Bag pattern from Joan Hawley’s Lazy Girl Designs. ( I bought my pattern from Punch With Judy, but there are a lot of places you can get it.)

The fabric is a Hoffmann ( I think!) that I’ve been hoarding for years. So the bag is part of my new policy about fabric generally and my stash in particular – I have so many “holy” fabrics that are so nice I don’t want to cut into them. But I am being strong and making them into things that I will enjoy. That way at least I get to see them, rather than bury them and forget how much I liked them.

I am so IN LOVE with this pattern! Joan has really gone all out – it’s more like a book than a pattern. There are step-by-step photos for EVERY Step. The instructions are clear and well written, and in a font that’s easy to read. Even a beginner would have no problems with this pattern – just cut and stitch in the order listed and you’ll have a fabulous bag too!

I’m a slow sewist, (I refuse to write sew-er, because even with the hyphen it looks like I’m talking about municipal drainage) but I got this done in about 5 hours. (I have taken longer on this same pattern when I’ve done much more intensive quilting for the outside, but really you don’t need to go overboard.)

So I spend time making sure the threads are knotted and buried, and press the seams over a tailors ham, etc. You could probably do it faster, but it’s not a huge project – it would certainly be something you could sew in a day.

I ran out of the interfacing I had wanted to use, and so used a fusible pellon wadding as the interfacing in this bag – it makes it a bit squishier but is still firm enough so the bag stands up ok. (Nothing worse than a floppy bag when you’re trying to find something…)

LOVE the size!

And how good is this – it fits in BOOKS! and magazines. And a whole heap of other things that you might need to take along to your quilters meeting. Yeah baby! Notice that the orange binding on the top of the bag is actually a “Faux” binding – it’s the lining, but attached and stitched in a very clever way. When Joan says “Lazy Girl” she’s not kidding – this is a real time saver, and makes such a neat transition between the inside and outside of the bag.

Love those pockets!

Here’s a shot of the inside so you can see those groovy pockets better. (That’s my coin purse – a little vinyl ladybug. I have a bit of a thang for ladybugs.) And that rectangle at the bottom is what makes the bag so stable. You can buy specially cut inserts to use but I managed to scrounge some scrap Perspex (ahem, that’s a brand name – of course I mean “Sheet acrylic”) that I cut to size.

I’ve used the short handles option – knowing that if I make long handles I would be tempted to sling the bag over my shoulder and carry way too much stuff. I think it looks awesome with commercial handles (rather than fabric) but I didn’t have the $$ to buy any – or the patience to wait.

Joan keeps adding updates on her blog about her own and other people’s groovy Mirandas, and things that make it even better. (Feet! That’s what I should do, like Tracy has done on her Miranda – bag feet! They stop fabric bags from wearing out so quickly.)

Ah well, there’s always the next bag – I’ve promised one for my best friend M (who gave me the sheet acrylic). Her favourite colour is green and she adores paisley – so let me know if you see any fabric that would be just right.

I was going to make up Lazy Girl Designs “Chloe” bag next – but do you think I can find the pattern in my sewing room? ARRRRRGH! I reckon I have enough of the “Fresh Air” charm squares left after making my journal cover to just about do a Chloe in patchwork.

Although now I think of it, darling Annie (she has a SHOP! Wooohoooooo!) sent me a groovy tool especially designed to help make woven strips from bias, (meshwork! Ahhh, that’s what it’s called!) since it looked so gorgeous when Joan made a Chloe up with this technique, and I’ve been inspired by some of the gorgeous woven bias handbags that Luana showed on her blog from the Tokyo International Quilt Festival

This post brought to you by the word GROOVY, the colour orange, and the letter Yogh….

I truly do (heart) my readers – HAPPY VALENTINES DAY, you sweeties! Especially to my lovelies who have saved content from my old blog for me. *sniff* a gal couldn’t have nicer friends.

IN CASE YOU’RE WORRIED about nuking your own blog – let me just re-state that it is actually much more difficult to do than you’d think! My problems happened when I was working too tired, doing behind the scenes stuff on my domain – and on most blogs you just don’t have access to the code to do it.

And if you’re smart (ha!) you’ll BACK UP your blog (and indeed, your whole computer) regularly, using one of the many handy dandy back up programs around. A quick search of tucows.com will give you a few options to choose from in free and shareware. (Just scroll down past the paid ads first, ok? The free stuff is down below.)

And in the worst case, you’ll often find that your blog posts have been cached on google – that is, they are stored from being looked up, and you might be able to grab some back. Tanya the Art Butcher and Susan in Stitches even went so far as to retrieve some for me – awww!Front cover of my visual diary

And now for the something new – I have finished one of the things on my to-do list! Heeeeeeeeere’s my brand spanking new journal cover. It’s made from mostly the Chez Moi for Moda “Fresh Air” fabric that I wish I’d bought more of – but at least now I get to look at it every day, rather than leave it in my stash.

I started by piecing nine of the 5″ charm squares into a nine patch., which I then cut into quarters and stitched back together. (When inspiration is TOTALLY lacking, start simple!)

Then I realised that wasn’t quite big enough so I added some strips left over from another project I’m in the middle of. (I sure hope they’re left over and I haven’t mis-cut anything for that project, or I am going to have to get VERY creative!)

Next, I quilted it with lots of pebblycircles. I used dense free motion quilting because a journal cover has to stand up to a lot of abuse – and also because I really love the thread and wanted to see it.Inside of journal

Once that was done I trimmed the edges, then cut a heap of 2″ squares. Inspired by a long ago article in Threads magazine by Bird Ross, (The Incredible, Reversible, One-Technique Jacket” by Bird Ross (No. 40, pp. 30-35 – oh my gosh, that was published in April/May 1992!*) I finger pressed the squares (with the right sides out) on the diagonal to make triangles. These make the binding – start stitching with free motion stitch, stop and add a triangle wrapped over the edge (the diagonal is on the raw edge of the quilt) and stitch over it. Then you go back and stitch over it another few times if you want to.

Oh, somewhere in all this I decided that some torn strips should be zig-zagged on top of the quilting, too. And I really wasn’t kidding about “ruining” a new journal by scribbling on the first page – now I’m free to mess up the rest of the book with ANYTHING. How liberating!Outside of my new journal cover

Then I grabbed the journal and folded in the short edges of the now edge-finished “quilt”, and sewed along the top and bottom edges. Not only does that hold the book in the cover, it’s a really useful place to put loose bits and pieces of things… so long as you don’t forget you stashed them there….

Once the cover was on the journal, I decided it needed something more on the spine – so I free motion zig-zag quilted some more of the binding squares over the top.

I’m pretty happy with it!

I did use up most of a reel of King Tut thread, though. But using pretty (and easy to quilt with) thread makes me happy, so that’s ok.

I also got the free motion quilting done on the other project -so I can now start cutting *that* up – pics soon!

* If anyone still has issue #40 of Threads and is willing to send it to me, I will MAKE YOU A JOURNAL COVER in whatever colours you want.

I now don’t lend my Threads magazines out, ever…

And guess what? One of my FAVOURITE tv shows in back on tonight – Grand Designs! WOOOOOOOT!

Later edited to add – the buggers showed us a 1998 episode. WTF? 

Julie tagged me – ta, Julie!- and since I’m starting over, I thought it was a good time to answer this one again. Now, I don’t tag other people – so consider yourself free to join in or not!

7 things about me:

1. I am a complete IDIOT and will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS CROSS MY HEART PINKY SWEAR do proper weekly backups up my blog from now on.

2. I think I’m getting dumber as I get older. Seriously, my short term whoseamawhatzit is not what is used to be. I am losing stuff more often, and forgetting books I have read. Oh well, it just makes every day a whole new adventure, doesn’t it?

3. I am a complete dance tragic. Not many people know this about me. I am utterly fascinated by both the US and the brand new Aussie versions of “So You Think You Can Dance” – even though I refuse to watch ANY OTHER reality TV shows.

I can’t dance. I do not possess grace, or body awareness, or a sylph like figure. But I hugely admire anyone who can – and it doesn’t matter what style of dance. Tap, Lindy Hop, Ballroom, Contemporary – anything.

4. What was that second thing again?

5. I am secretly scared of success.

6. I love living in Toowoomba (for my life with Mr Beloved, the climate and the new friends) but I miss Canberra (for the doable drive to see my parents, the galleries and libraries, and friends.) And yet I dream of owning a house in the coldcoldcold high country of either NSW or Victoria. If we ever win the lottery, I would probably move South again.

7. I think I might have started to break through the creative drought. I’m quite pleased with the way my Dancing Beijing challenge worked out, and I actually drew in my new visual diary last night. Things are looking up.

So – there you go. Seven things about me. Please comment, I’m so lonely here at my new blog!

Today Yesterday I took along one of my old visual journals to quilting in the hope that looking back through it would spark some ideas. It did! But more than that, it made me realise just how much work I put into things; and just how valuable a resource a visual journal can be.

So – I dragged out a fresh spiral bound A4 book, and will be making it a new cover tomorrow. Then I’ll scribble on the front page – because then it’s RUINED, and I have no fear of putting anything at all in it! I know there are still another 119 pages – but the grotty first page takes all the fear out of those blank pages.

After looking at the older journal today, some friends asked me “Are you going to finish your Visual Arts Diploma?”

No, I don’t think I am. Not while a certain teacher still dominates the campus. Looking back, I was mostly self-directed anyway – and I’d rather spend the money for the course fees on various materials, and work to deadlines on my own.

So – here’s what I’m currently working on, and when it’s due:

Dancing Beijing Challenge quilt – due this Saturday – just needs the label stitched down, since I didn’t even make a single stitch today at quilters! (Had some great discussions, though, and quite a bit of brainstorming.)

Cover for new visual diary – due ASAP – probably second cab off the rank tomorrow.

Super Sekrit ProjectSuper Sekrit project using these fabrics (I’m still not sure which quilting thread) – I have all the ingredients assembled now, I just need to focus and get them stitched.

Quilt for the Down Under Quilts 2009 Calendar competition: entries close 26 April. EVERY BLOODY YEAR I *mean* to enter this. 2008 WILL be the year!

Well, I think that’s enough to be going on with.

Tomorrow Today is a special day for Australia – our new Prime Minister will be saying Sorry. There will be a lot of tears, but I am so thankful that it’s happening.

Maybe a fresh start all round?

Ok, let’s try not to think of this as a monumental cock up. I’ll think of it as a chance instead to have a new start.

Quite frankly, the old blog’s architecture grew like topsy, and things were not as organised as perhaps they should have been.

So – a fresh start is a Good Thing, right?

But just so you know – the very last post before I hit that delete key one too many times was about my Dancing Beijing challenge quilt for the Toowoomba Quilters Club.

“Olympic Hope”  - my quilt for the Toowoomba Quilters Dancing Bejing challenge.

So here it is again. As I wrote before *sob!* I don’t know quite what the appliquéd shapes represent – some people have seen them as athletes, some as kits, or banners… what do you think?

And btw – please please update your bookmarks/blog reader and links for me? Ta ever so.

[recovered from cache]

I know I’m late in posting this link – but OMG, I laughed SO HARD!

If you’re not familiar – the shortarse idiot is our ex Prime Minister.

The song is originally by Aussie rock legend The Angels.

And the audience response (No way get f*cked f*ck off!) is MANDATORY.

So much so that once I was walking around a big shopping mall in Canberra, and “Am I ever Gonna See Your Face Again” started playing over the centre’s music system. Within moments, about 75% of the people in the mall were mouthing the response – some were even doing the actions. I stood at the rail looking over the food court and grinned – and yes, I did the actions too.

Our NEW Prime Mininster, Kevin Rudd (known in our house as The Sainted Kev) is doing something AMAZING tomorrow – something that the previous PM and government were too gutless and too small minded to ever do. Our PM is saying SORRY.

Sorry to all the Aboriginal and Torres Strait people who were taken from their families and culture in the past.

Some in the (now) opposition (and their supporters) are saying “Sorry’s just a word.” But it’s not. “Sorry” is a shift in cultural attitude, and a recognition that hurt was done. It’s about a mind-set that says “We messed up. And we can’t go back in time and change that. But we can acknowledge it and work towards fixing what can be fixed.”

(The nay-sayers are even trying to say the the forcible, unauthorised removal of kids from the families wasn’t “Stealing” them. DENIAL – not just a river in Egypt, eh?)

Saying Sorry is about treating Aboriginal culture as viable, and recognising the the Anglo hegemony belongs to a past age.

And it’s something that John Howard and his ilk will never grok.

OH SHIT

I nuked my blog!

Restoration/Rebuilding NOW IN PROGRESS….

(yes I did back it up. the back up failed. OH F*CK!)