30 December 2014

Looking forward to the New Year

Can't show the sewing I've done until Thursday - for the first time I managed to make the Block Lotto blocks from the preview instructions!  But here are some other photos....

Twenty-five bow-tie blocks made by Creative Quilters - will make a fun quilt - congratulations to Marianne who got to take them all home.  This was a successful exercise in colour value.

 Views from the top floor of our local shopping centre (Cavendish Square) on Christmas Eve (not last-minute shopping - the only shopping!).  The first one facing south, and wondering what they are going to build in the excavated plot - there was a low-rise building there a month ago.  The second is a north-facing view of the back of Table Mountain - one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World - I can never get enough of looking at it!

My plan for 2015 are to sew more and blog more.  My Mum is improving, and physiotherapist thinks she may even be successful in getting her to walk a few steps with a walker - I do hope so!  Saw all the therapists today and all three were pleased with her progress - just got to get the staff at the Care Facility to understand that she needs to sometimes be in her room to practice her homework and not to just sit in their communal lounge mindlessly watching sport on TV (yes, that's what it seems they think the residents want to do and watch).  My sisters and I face selling her house, and either selling or storing her furniture -  more than 40 years of love in the house my parents built - a difficult thing to do.

05 December 2014

Early Christmas Lunch

A delightful lunch held yesterday for the residents and families of the care centre where Mum is staying for now.


02 December 2014

More pieced blocks...

...so last night...I'll just look for some fabrics for these....ok, I'll just cut them out.....ok, I'll just sew one....and magically, all six were done !    On my sewing table I have been keeping a growing pile of fabric pieces that were too small to put back in the drawers, and yet I couldn't bring myself to cut them into usable squares or rectangles or strips - and it was great to use these fabrics for the Block Lotto blocks where various sizes and shapes of one fabric are needed - without having an overwhelming fabric choice!

My mother is improving steadily, but it will be a long road to a reasonable recovery.  Our first choice of a care facility was a mistake and after three (sleepless for all) nights we moved her to a good place.  The new therapists have all been to assess her and are planning the continuing therapies she'll need.

30 November 2014

Piecing - balm for the soul

Managed to find time to make these nine bowtie blocks, shown here in different layouts, and six Block Lotto blocks.



13 November 2014

Denise Recovering

Yesterday was six weeks since Denise's stroke.  It has been a whirlwind of almost daily hospital visits, finding new-for-her accommodation inspections (oh my giddy aunt, some were atrocious, some beyond our means, some just right, all with seemingly caring staff), trying to keep up with work.  Thank goodness for my fabulous sisters to share this process (ok, so we bicker, and annoy each other, mostly inadvertently), but we all have our mother's welfare at heart, and all are scared of the future for her.

Denise is having daily speech, physio and occupational therapies.  She is starting to speak, and although we know that her mind is sound, she is struggling to verbalize the words.  There is still no movement in her arm and leg, but she is able to stand with aid, allowing her to move from bed to wheelchair to therapy bed without being shoved and pushed.  We constantly remind her of her good progress but understandably she still gets frustrated at times.  I was told today by at least three staff that her doctor was astounded when she returned his "good morning" greeting, not having heard her speak at all!

She will move out of the Rehab Unit next Friday, and continue with the therapies at her new (and still unconfirmed) temporary home.

In this crisis I abandoned my Teacher Accreditation Course, will pick it up in 2016 when it is scheduled to be run again.  My fellow students have had mixed results with the final module, but we all have learned an amazing amount.  My sister-in-law has been with us for two weeks from Johannesburg, sorting out and getting ready to (maybe in Dec) move into a house in Noordhoek (25 mins away)

Virtually no new or old sewing done but I do go and visit my sewing room every couple of days, and reassure it that I'll be back!  The first evening I didn't visit my mum I laid out all my hexagon flowers on the lounge coffee table (watching tv catchup) and decided on a layout for the quilt.  I needed to have some handwork to keep me sane out of the house and didn't have anything else portable and suitable.  (Was cursing that I can't get my phone to sync photos to laptop, but went back to basics, and just copied the darn things!).....

A rough layout to get the values and colours in general position (these colours are close to actual):
And a blurry and oddly-coloured picture of the almost final layout (I had to shuffle a bunch when I was one short in a row!)

 And here is Gorgeous George fast asleep on a bed - never known a cat to sleep on her back quite like this one!

14 October 2014


Two weeks ago my fiercely independent beautiful Mam suffered a debilitating stroke.  She is unable to move her right arm and leg and cannot speak.  Yesterday we were finally able to move her to a rehabilitation unit and we have hope that she will recover some of the loss.

Denise's Table Mountain in progress

Denise's own quilt in progress

Denise's Scrappy Trip

Denise's scrap blocks!

06 September 2014

Saturday Night Sewing

After spending the afternoon with my mother working working on adding fabric to square up some of her beautiful scrap blocks I came home keen to sew something.

Looked on my really untidy sewing desk, and picked on the pieces cut out for the asterisk blocks that
I didn't make for the July Lotto.  Stitched the first one but forgot I had cut the strips wider with the intention to trim, oh well, looks sort of ok.  Decided to just make the others with only half the strips, and I like them.  Six in-between Split-9-Patch blocks were completed, now have 56 done.

These are the before and after washing pictures of the Inktense scribblings. Yes there was some fading in the wash (60 deg C in a laundry bag in with the towels). And some shrinking of the fabric - it is from a pile of +10" squarish off-cuts from a local factory shop - given to me years ago by my sister - never washed them as I use them only for testing and cleaning my sewing machine.

The Block Lotto for September is a paper-based block.  And I remember reading somewhere long ago that to make copies of your foundation, layer up paper, staple the pattern and with an old unthreaded needle stitch along the lines.   Then you have accurate copies and are apparently easier to remove.  I have a box of wide fan-fold paper that came from the defunct clothing factory my husband had about 15 years ago.  I still have to sew the blocks!!!

05 September 2014

Block for CQ

Made this sample block with a 5-1/2" centre square, finishing at 13".  Wrote the instructions for making it with a 4-1/4" square, so it will be a 12" block (finished).
And think it would be a fun quilt to make one day.  And I think I just learned something new - how to export a Marquee Selection from EQ7, and paste it here... so I thought!  But it didn't actual paste!!  Ended up saving it as a bitmap file, then using Picasa, exported it and it became a jpg file, and much smaller in pixels.  Have been pasting from EQ7 into Word docs but hadn't thought to try it like this.  It looks better than my cell phone photographs!

02 September 2014

Deadline met...

On Sunday at about 6:30 pm I submitted my four written assignments for the Teachers Accreditation Course, felt quilte good about that finish, keeping fingers crossed for the results!  Have the practical assignment back, and achieved a pass mark - the lost marks were justified!  I was supposed to provide full size patterns for the 12" block and quilt, and I had only included a 50% scale version - really!, most of my quilts are produced from scribblings on 4" pieces of paper!. Have started re-reading and thinking about the final assignments, and am confident that I they will get done on time, and in fact looking forward to the end.

Took young George to the vet this morning to be spayed.  At nearly six months old it was the right time.  She was most put out not having any food.  She gets fetched this evening.  Think she will need extra-extra TLC.

Dearest P had to have a Carpal Tunnel problem in his wrist fixed on Thursday, and is happy so far at the results.  Stitches out in a week.  Then he has to plan the other wrist.

No pictures, sorry!

28 August 2014

Got my sewing fix

After having it for three weeks I finally got to plug in my new sewing machine and give it a test drive.

I'm not quite sure what I expected, and although it sews perfectly fine, there was a sense of disappointment, so I had to think hard why I decided on that machine in the first place.  It is a Pfaff Passport, and some time before I had looked on-line at their various models, and thought this one would be OK.  I had been looking because I needed to replace my beloved dead general sewing machine.  Although I didn't use it much, sometimes one has to hem pants (I'm only 5' 1 and a bit", and you can only buy trousers here in South Africa in one length, for 6' tall women), and sometimes do things that need more than only straight stitching.  And I needed a light easily transportable machine for future workshops I might attend - and to perhaps enable me to do the Assignment 3 pieces better than the ones for Assignment 2.

I happened to be in the retailer's shop to collect the needle-threading part replacements for the Grand Quilters, and not being in a hurry asked them to show me what they had.  Didn't like the models on the floor, so the Passport was brought out and I was really taken with the way it looked.   And we test drove it with lots of discussion and it seemed to be a good machine.  

My mistake was not to take it out of the box immediately at home.  (my excuse is that I had to finish my Teachers Course Assignment pieces first!)  I think in the three weeks I waited I was so excited by the thought of "a new machine" that it may have grown out of proportion in my mind.  It sews beautifully, it sews all the 70 stitches it is pre-programmed to do, it even takes the presser feet from my other machines (that is why I stick with Pfaff), but it ended with a feeling of "is that all it can do?"   With hind-sight maybe I wanted it to do my Teachers Course Assignment - oh, wouldn't that have been Joy!   (Marked Assignment is back in Cape Town, but have to wait until Saturday to see my mark - no, TB, please don't open it!!)   I can't seem to make the pre-programmed stitches change if I alter the needle position - something I could do on the old mechanical machine.  It still looks a nice machine picture next time I get it out of the box.

This is the piece on which I tested almost all of the stitches.  Scribbled over with Derwent Inktense colours (just got them, and these are way out of my comfort zone) - sliced in two, will wash one half to see the fastness of the ink/dye/paint.

Last night, unable to get up the enthusiasm to complete the last few questions of the SAQG-TAC written assignments (we have a reprieved deadline - this Sunday!!!), I happily made these six blocks for the August Block Lotto - I hope I win this month!

These are the 27 blocks made in response to my attempts to encourage my quilt group, which has a fair number of beginners to "just try" new blocks.  I write and email the instructions.  A number is allocated for each block, and the maker of the number drawn won all blocks.  Hoping we will get to a point when there is enough blocks for more than one winner.
Every time I think to take a photo it is night or bad light.  The right-side of the back garden, through the picture window (it was hailing!).  Old shed gone (a month ago!).
 Left-side of back garden, from edge of stoep (patio) - can't see it, but same hail - it's freezing here today.  (Ok, not really freezing, but as about as cold as Cape Town gets, 12 deg - must be snow on the mountains.)

And, lastly, a gratuitous picture of some of the provisions that daughter C has been buying (yay, shopping!) for the catering job she has from Sunday  -  three meals a day for 45 people for a week  - in Clanwilliam (about 3 hrs drive away) with the Clanwilliam Arts Project.

21 August 2014


The warmest spot in the house, apparently! Five months old and solidly entrenched here.



29 July 2014

Some sewing and sharing...

I've been working on my Assignment 2 pieces, but don't want to show photos yet.  I think I have completion phobia, as I get to "almost" finished and then put it aside!

Made one block for the Block Lotto for July, I cut out three but lost enthusiasm to sew the other two, mainly because wrong foot on daughter's machine and I was itching to complete the samples for the demo I'm doing this Saturday at our Guild.  It's our annual Sampler Day and about 10 of us (who are doing the SAQG Teachers' Accreditation Course) were asked to volunteer a 9 minute demo, which is repeated 10 times as small groups circulate to each table.

A couple of weeks ago I did a class with Sheila Walwyn.  Although she is an experienced quilt artist, this was her first formal class, and she and the class were great.  This is my piece in progress, have subsequently put all the pieces on, next to add some stitches with the new baby (see further!):

A picture of Creative Quilters' annual Christmas in July and the wonderful gift I received from Cathy and Nicola:

...hmmm, I've had this new baby a week now and have yet to take it out of the box.  I need a good two hours clear so I can play!!  It is a Pfaff Passport 2.0 - I am a serious Pfaff fan, I have two straight-stitch only Grand Quilters which I love.  My old 1212 died and having struggled with the Assignments and that applique piece above on T's 40-year old machine, just knew it was time to get a machine that sews buttonhole stitches (not just buttonholes!)

 One block for Creative Quilters:

And finally some pictures of the garden, the almost completed shed and the fur babies almost being civil:

 Happy sewing!

29 June 2014

Very little sewing

Not much sewing has been done here, made this one block for the Block Lotto yesterday.  It will finish at 7" x 14"

Have been mulling over the blocks that need to be done for the second assignment for the SAGQ-TAC.  And my aversion to applique keeps kicking in...  but do have the design worked out for the hand applique one, pieces cut ready to sew.  The other piece is machine applique, and I want to do something I will be happy with, so the mulling continues.