14 November 2020

Just checking in

Well, it has been a while, but I am still here and kicking quilting.  I get a lot of daily pleasure from reading the blogs of other quilters; it's like being part of their lives, getting to share their ups and downs of this crazy existence.

Like many people, who are fortunate to have the option, I am still working from home, and this is likely to continue until well into the new year. 

I get to chat, via Zoom, with most of my small weekly quilt group, which, like meeting in person, is food for the soul.  My monthly group, has also been using Zoom to meet, and managed to have some of the ladies meet, albeit suitably socially distanced.

A fair amount of sewing has happened but not a lot of pictures.  Just before the lockdown started, my mobile phone started to split apart, with the gap slowly getting wider.  It still worked fine as a phone, the only problem this caused was that the camera began to be obscured.  Eventually, after about six months, and when I felt brave enough to go do something, it turns out that the battery had expanded, and had actually been a fire hazard.   The techie replacing it was very nervous in case it exploded.

So instead of quilt pictures, I am posting a photo of my grandson. His family live in Wales, and we get to video call often, and get plenty of photos.  It is going to be a long time before they or us will be on a 10-hour flight to see each other.  

 Thanks for reading!

24 April 2020

The Continuing Quietness

We have been told that the strict lockdown conditions will start to be eased as from next Friday.  To contain the growing virus scourge, this will happen gradually, but maybe slower in the metro areas than the rural areas.  We can't continue much longer without some more economic activity as a large portion of our population will simply starve.  Much has been done to feed as many people as possible, but there are still many not being reached.

I had planned to try and post regularly on a Friday, weekly seems a bit easier than more often.   But, when looking last Friday, most of the photographs from the previous two weeks had been replaced with a grey no-entry type graphic, which promptly sent me into a decline!  After a few days I put my photos back, but lacked the desire to write any more.

These are my RSC blocks for April's colour of light and bright blue.  Four more scrap slabs, and four scrap kites.  Actually, it took very little sewing, as I had some bigger rough slabs tucked away in the box of blue crumbs from the last time this colour had a turn, serendipity!

Finally felt up to playing the blocks from RSC2019's Tiny Tuesdays.  These were a block a week last year.  Tried to alternate square and on point blocks, but did not have an equal number of each, so played and played until this layout seemed the best it would be.  Stitching up was quick, and it was a delight to have on the wall for a few days.

 Frolic ll - with first two borders on.  Yes, somewhat  a bit wavy on the bottom.

And with the final border on.  Still a bit wavy on the sides, but I'm sure the quilting will take care of that!  I have enough pieces and parts left over from this that would probably make other quilt, but decided to file them away for the future.

 I have four loose inch-and-a-half thick polystyrene boards covered in brushed cotton/flannel, as my design walls.  Mostly two out at a time, next to each other, propped up against my bookcases, so quilts don't quite lie perfectly flat on them. 

 The central blocks, of which I have 53, were made last year.  The plan was each month to take RSC colour as the centre of 6-10, and add the previous month's colour as the next round, using string pieces.  Each round was carefully trimmed as big as possible with 90-degree angles, some ended up square and some as rectangles. Each block has six rounds, in the same order, but starting with one of the six colours.

To these 30 blocks a final wide round of either white with a single colour print or a white with black print added.  And trimmed to 12.5-inches square.
 The prints had been stored for some time, and were not getting used much. 

My desk is very close the design wall!
Turned through 90-degrees.  Size at this stage is about 60-inches by 72-inches.

The remaining 23 blocks are being put away to be played with at a future date.  Some have the final round added, but they ended up smaller than these in the quilt top.

This has taken most of the evening to transfer and edit photos, and to write, and I wish I know how other bloggers are able to write more frequently!   For me it is often a tug-of-war between writing and sewing!  But it's useful, and nice, to look back at previous photos.

10 April 2020

A Quiet Good Friday

 It is still very quiet here.  As of last night we've had
our national lock-down extended
 until the end of April. 

The sewing for this week includes:

A dozen framed nine-patches in the colour for April for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, in light and bright blues.

Continuing with RSC colours, more Postage Stamp blocks, three of the eight-inch squares,  three of the six-inch blocks, two four-inch blocks and three two-inch blocks.

And the progress so far on Frolic II. These blocks are set on the diagonal and I misjudged (as I did not measure!) the setting triangles, so they are a little short.  As I had stitched up all the block parts, I was not going to disassemble blocks nor cut more pieces, so the edges will be a little chopped off, but not too unhappy about this.  Think will add a raspberry inner border and a green outer border.  I have all the half-square triangles left, so might add these in as well.  And three whole star blocks, that may go on the back.

03 April 2020

March 2020 sewing

Working from home, now three weeks in, has meant that I seem to have had less time for sewing, but maybe that is an illusion.  
The pandemic numbers are rising, slowly here thankfully, but alarmingly elsewhere.

This was the list of the planned sewing for the aborted long weekend away.  Yes, I had worked out roughly how long each partial project would take, as I didn't want to run out!

 These were the project boxes for the list, almost all were cut or in strips.

I didn't get even close to the sewing machine until the Saturday afternoon, can't remember why, but eventually since then each project has had it's turn to be moved on a little.

First on the list were the March blocks for Good Hope Quilters'Guild Mystery 2020.

 The above cut pieces turned into these blocks. I really like them!

Teal was March's colour of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge 
Framed Nine-Patches (numbers 65 to 76...getting close to the 99 needed), although they don't look too Teal-ish in this photo, each print has some darker teal on it!

Four more Scrappy Slabs.  These are the thirtheenth set of four, need seven more sets.

 Postage Stamp blocks.  I don't know how many of these I will need, but these 3 x 8-inch, 1x 6-inch and 5 x 4-inch blocks bring the total number of blocks to 102 blocks. And I think I like them on-point.

Teal kite shapes. Definitely teal, not the more blue they seem!

And, yay, a finished top.  My Bonnie Hunter Frolic re-engineered.  About 67" x 80"

And have started sewing up the remainder of the blocks but playing with
 a different layout, and edging.  Some way to go on this still.

This is Claremont Main Road at 2pm yesterday when I ventured
 out yesterday, after a week at home to forage for food buy milk.
 Almost devoid of traffic, it is normally one
 of the busiest intersections in the area, and not a minibus taxi to be seen.
  Good to see the now mandated country-wide lockdown is being observed.

 And, from that list, although I did work on the Dress-Up Orphans (no pictures), I decided to abandon the purple split 9-patches, and never even looked at the Jack's Chain blocks.

But it is the start of another non-socialising week-end / week  /month, so maybe some more to show in due course.  Lots of Netflix viewing or BBC Radio Comedy to sew along to.  

Off to sew!

21 March 2020

Quilting Day

It's International Quilting Day and I intend to sew the whole day, after posting this picture heavy post!.  This was supposed to be a quilting weekend away but, because of advice to slow the spread of Covid-19, it was put on hold until happier times.

We thankfully have not yet had a death in South Africa from this, and in spite of the authorities being on the alert and doing their best, if it does spread it will be a disaster in our very crowded poorer areas.  Locally, I am concerned for my niece who is a paramedic on an ambulance should things get bad.  I have two adult children and extended family in the UK, and my daughter shares that some people there are not taking this seriously enough.  It is sort-of surreal though.  Since Monday, all my work colleagues are now working from home, and we have no idea at this time for how long this will be.  We are not in complete lock-down, but businesses and incomes are already being affected, my husband's fuel station has seen a significant drop in sales, my tour-guide sister will be affected, family members who are in entertainment and hospitality will be affected. 

 Stay away from people, stay safe and protect the vunerable in our world.

But on to quilting news:

This is a very old project I've been working on for the past month, now named Covid-19.  This was started years ago as an improvisional quilt, and I referred to it as 6-7-8, because the central hexies morphed into 7-sided, and then 8-sided shapes were to be next.

It grew to this about two weeks ago:

And now is this, but still some seams to be secured, and bits added on the edges:

I recently gave a few quilts to a quilting friend who co-ordinates quilts for some of the children in care in Cape Town.  She had asked for quilts about 130 cm by 170 cm, most of these are about this size.    (Sorry J, quilts for my great-nephews still to happen!!)
 Sunshine and Shadow blocks - enlarged with borders. Free motion quilted on frame.

  This is an adapted pattern from a mystery (Alycia Quilts).  I didn't like the reveal layout, so changed it to this.  Again free motion quilted on frame.

 I have a lot of sample blocks and blocks left over from other projects, blocks that I thought I would like, but didn't, and at our quilt weekend away last September I started putting them together in a row-by-row layout.  I filled in with various blue 2.5"strips.  The oak leaf blocks were a Block Lotto win - still have more!.  More free motion quilting.

 A nasty blurry picture!  These were also a Block Lotto win.  The long-arm ruler and free-motion quilting done by amazing friend, Tracy B - The Quilting Co

 Started in a class by Carol - quilt as you go Stars.  Oh, the batting was very puffy one, but I did like the effect!

 A quilt from one of the three tops made from the pieces from Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice mystery.  Free motion quilted on my frame.


Now off to sew!

12 February 2020

Getting Organised

A couple of years ago I was inspired by the way Elaine, a quilt-blogger, organised her processes to Get Things Done.  I had been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the growing pile of projects started but languishing, and after reading how she managed to keep her projects moving along, decided to apply it to my pile.

I have always been a "list-maker", and enjoy the feeling of satisfaction of crossing-off items as they get done, but Elaines's way took things to another level, and it seems to be working.  But please go and read her article, as it makes more sense, and she is very detailed!

Starting in the front of an A4 hard-cover exercise book, I made a list of all my quilt related projects.  In 2018, which spilled over into 2019, I had 56 projects, varying from fabrics selected, to sample test blocks, to quilt tops waiting to be quilted.  In spite of finishing 13 and abandoning one, my new list for 2020 has 77 projects in progress.  But curiously I don't feel as overwhelmed as I did two years ago, as this is a plan that is working for me!

At the back of the book, using Elaine's ingenious plan, I make a list of the weekIy tasks and I am very happy to highlight them when completed, and as an extra, draw a diagonal line through the weeks' list when all the tasks are done!

I have started adding some non-quilt related items each week, just as reminders that other things also need to get done (remember, we are building a house!)

Sometimes there are items on the weekly list that don't get done for ages, but it remains there as a constant reminder!  And yes, there are always new things to try out, and they do get added (that's why 56 grew to 77).

So far this year only two new projects (which are block-a-month year-long ones with local groups) have been added, and although I know there maybe more, and the object is finish a lot this year, I am not setting a goal number, as it is like new year's resolutions, depressing when the goal not met!

Samples of the first month, a row of beach houses and purple/green four-patches

I do have a day job (not quilt related!), and I now enjoy coming home and being able to get sewing with the list as a guide.

25 January 2020

Why not much sewing

It's gone very quiet here at home.
My eldest and her family have returned to Wales.
Oh, so quiet!
Being mid-summer, swimming in the late afternoons was on the agenda.

T getting her first go on the quilting frame. She pieced both quilts whilst here.
 Amazingly, not one thread break, I think she has a gentler touch than me!

 And, the second one, all ready to quilt.
We did manage a trip to the Aquarium, and this is E inspecting the clownfish.

 On Thursday, my weekly quilt group had its "end of year" 'dinner.
We hold it over to January so there is less rush!
My younger daughter was commissioned to do the catering, and this is the amazing dessert - a chocolate ganache tart on a ground almond base, served with cream - not one piece left!

12 January 2020

Life as it is...

Well, this is a surprise!  I have been wanting to restart writing here for some time, but actually finding a quiet time to co-incide with some inspiration has been challenging.

After reading what I wrote last March, I want to share some updates. 

I am pleased to say that I successfully completed the South African Quilters' Guild's Quilt Teachers' Accreditation Course, and I am now an Accredited Quilt Teacher.  I attended the National Quilt Festival at Heronbridge in Gauteng in August, and was presented with my badge and certificate.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover what confidence has emanated from this, especially when presenting information at my Quilt Groups.

I continued to participate and make blocks each month for the Block Lotto, and which sadly to say, December was the last month this will be run.  This was an inspirational site, and was great fun to participate.  These are some of the blocks I made for various months in 2019.  As there had been grumblings about postage costs to here (South Africa), these were all donation blocks, with no chance of winning, and I limited my blocks to three so I only had to send to one winner!

Very happy that I kept up the whole year with Angela at SoScrappy's block a week project.  These blocks are waiting to be assembled into a top.  Angela's challenge each year is to use up one's scraps, one colour at a time.  I have a number of projects building up from this, not quite enough units to make a completed quilt top, so will continue this, the colour for January is bight and light green.

We did start building the house at the bottom quarter of our garden in April 2019, with the vague thought that we would be moving in by November.  I remind myself that every time we have had any building work done on our current house (we've been here 39 years) it has always taken us twce as long as promised/expected, so why should this new house be any different!  The bulk of the work is done, but still need flooring, cupboards, kitchen, municipal connections for electricity, water and sewage!  Maybe by March it will be done, or perhaps I should double THAT estimate!   Constant decisions to be made, with many compromises when either desired finish is too expensive, or plain just not available!  Not recommended for the faint-hearted!  And yet, we plan a second house in the other bottom quarter of the garden!  This time we have hopefully learnt all we need about having a perfect house built, that includes one space that is big enough space for my quilt frame! 
Since this was taken, all windows and doors in.
 The latest news is that on New Years' Eve my eldest and her family arrived for three weeks from Wales.  Such a joy to have them here, and am dreading the quiet when they leave.  My grandson is twenty-two months, and is in busy constant motion, and has taken to the swimming pool with aplomb.  (They've gone to meet up with friends today, so hence the chance to write.)   T has sewn up two quilt tops for friends' babies whilst here, and is just hoping to get them on the frame and quilted before she leaves.  (Frame is buried under some of my project boxes!)

 I hope that I will be able to share more this year, as I know how inspired I am reading blogs of other quilters.   

30 March 2019

Another of Those Catch-up Posts

2019 did start of with a rush!  Lots of easy steady holiday sewing, and then some serious, I've got get this done, stuff!  Then a 12-hour plane ride and back.  Should be back into a calmer mode... until the new house building starts!

To start off, in February, pictures of my office door being adorned with a logo, and my name (just in case I forget where my office is !)- it's a first for me!   Actually it's nice to no longer be in a fish-bowl.  As we share offices with another non-profit, this is to keep things straight!  Also had the air-con upgraded, with the attendant disruption and mess.

I had a mad, mad rush to meet the end of February dead-line for submission of the final assignments for the South African Quilters' Guild's Quilt Teachers' Accreditation Course.  This is one of the two practical pieces submitted, a small wall -hanging, 24-inches square, own design.   Now that is back with me, the ribbons will be removed, I only added them to meet the three embellishment requirements... really, I avoid these like the plague!  The buttons are obvious, but I think you may have difficulty finding the third embellishment!

 I did make time to make blocks for both February and March Block Lotto.  February's blocks were mailed off to the winners from....
February Block Lotto

March Block Lotto

...Wales, where we went for two weeks, mid-March, to see our darling growing family, with a flying stop in London to see our son at Uni.  E does sit still occasionally, but not for this photo, trying desperately to get down.  Grandpa amazingly patient with the little guy, many times up and down the staircases.

I did manage in the first week of March to finish his quilt.  The back was a lovely brushed cotton flat sheet.  All his Dad's family are in the airline business, and my father-in-law (his great-grandfather) flew a plane like this in the 1930s, from Europe to South Africa, hence the theme.  As we all were sick at one time or another in Wales, photos are rare, but did get these of him and the quilt:
E, not actually looking at quilt, but trying to shimmy backwards off the bed!

In other sewing, Angela at SoScrappy has been running a block a week project this year, the blocks are small (4.5 inch finished) and are sooo cute, that they could not be resisted!  Each is either set square or on point, the grey "sashing" is a lovely local brushed cotton.
RSC2019 Sampler - January Red blocks
RSC2019 Sampler - February Yellow blocks, with an extra two

RCS2019 Sampler - March Green blocks
We went to the American Museum at Bath and will post pictures of the Kaffe Fassett exhibition soon, and yes they said please take non-flash pictures, and please post them on social media.  So will oblige!  But there a quite a few, and need sorting out.