Tag Archives: quilt

So this is Christmas….

I was listening to the iconic John Lennon song ‘Happy Xmas – War is Over’ while celebrating Christmas Eve with my chicks and my parents here in our rural nest, and realised that, in answer to the question ‘And what have you done?’ I have a long list on some topics and a very short and bare one on others.     Maintaining this blog would fall on the latter list and yet I am still loathe to let it go. (In fact I just paid all the invoices to renew my web-hosting for another year just this evening!)

So what have I done?    This year has been a year of consolidation with life in the country. Our little flock of 5 sheep grew to 17, and we have enjoyed some lovely lamb meals as a result.  Our flock of chickens shrank from 14 to 6 and our egg production increased as a result!   Go figure!   We started the year with two dogs and ended with two dogs, but sadly not the same two.  Dottie the crazy terrier has survived to deafen us with her barks but after a couple of unusual and serious illnesses we lost Milo the Labrador in November.     In December we welcomed Buddy the kelpie and he is settling in well, but has not replaced Milo in my boy’s affections.

We adopted a resuce dog, Buddy the Kelpie, in December 2016.

We adopted a resuce dog, Buddy the Kelpie, in December 2016.

On a business level the year started well with me doing lots of sewing for the Shop Handmade, and lots of consulting for a new business venture.  By the end of the year the sewing was non-existent and I had to pull back from all the consulting as I was facing burn out again and didn’t want to head back down that path.   I live in hope that I will return to consulting and sewing in 2017, but we will see.

Our flock of sheep includes two sets of twin lambs born in late October.

Our flock of sheep includes two sets of twin lambs born in late October.

The family front is where the hardest work has been focused.   My boy has continued to struggle with mainstream schooling, and with his frustrations turning into aggression and violence. As we end the year I still don’t have answers on the school question but am comfortable that, after 4 separate hospital admissions I am on top of managing his behaviour, and that he is on the right combination of medications.   He is 10 now (I know – where did that baby boy go?) and is incredibly articulate, intelligent and compassionate, but also demanding and exhausting.    My girls have also had a rough year with the constant stress of living with this stress taking it’s toll on them.  I have found an excellent team of professionals to help support them and am sure we will get through this but the combination of all their needs saw me stepping away from the small amount of work I was doing and trying to be as present as possible for all three of them.  My artist-in-residence finished primary school with her art chosen for the cover of the yearbook, and my eldest chick has found her groove and her tribe at school and brought home some great feedback on her school report.

2016 has been tough.  In our home and in many other homes across the world.  I don’t think that there is any particular magic in a new year changing social attitudes, or the way an autistic child’s brain works, but I am hopeful that the 6 week school holiday break will give us all a chance to recharge, refocus and rebuild some of our battered resilience.   In the meantime I have gone back to the basics.  I have been sewing for the love of creating, not for work.   There are handmade pyjamas appearing under several family Christmas trees this year, there is a queen sized patchwork quilt that is almost, but not quite, finished for my eldest chick to receive in the morning under the tree, and there is hand embroidery on another gift after my discovery of the joys of sashiko (Japanese embroidery) earlier in the year.  My plan is to work on small personal projects for a while, then to get back to designing and making on a business level when I am ready.

My gorgeous mother helping me to pin the quilt sandwich together before tackled machine quilting it - perhaps choosing a queen size quilt for my first self-quilted quilt was a tad ambitious!

My gorgeous mother helping me to pin the quilt sandwich together before tackled machine quilting it – perhaps choosing a queen size quilt for my first self-quilted quilt was a tad ambitious!

I hope that your Christmas and New Year is spent with people you love, who cherish you for who you are, and that you have a chance to recharge and rebuild before the next year sweeps us away into everyday life again.  From my nest to yours, Merry Christmas. xx

Autumn

We are settling in well here on the farm.  We have grown our chicken flock by 4 with the addition of some Araucuna hens – and they lay green eggs!  Green, white and brown eggs

The Dr Seuss references abound as you can imagine!  One of the hens has been named Sam-I-Am, while another is Yertle the Turtle.  Then we divert into random chicken names like Fiona and Big Bertha.  Dad continues to work on perfecting their coop and run and we all love just watching them as they scurry around negotiating their larger group.  The ‘pecking order’ is alive and well!

With time has also come room to start sewing again.  What a joy!  I am taking it slowly, and focussing on building up stocks in the Shop Handmade, and filling some gaps in their stock, so have expanded my range of baby goods a bit, and am not back to bag making just yet.

New products for my range - Reversible baby blankets - flannel one side and cotton the other!

New products for my range – Reversible baby blankets – flannel one side and cotton the other!

A quilted baby blanket from organic cotton and cotton flannel - this one was hard to put in the shop!

A quilted baby blanket from organic cotton and cotton flannel – this one was hard to put in the shop!

 

Baby change mats with laminated cotton outers, bamboo padding and cotton lining have also joined the product list.

Baby change mats with laminated cotton outers, bamboo padding and cotton lining have also joined the product list.

I am also working on some concepts of  re-branding.  The break away from blogging and sewing has given me time to reflect on where I want to take this little adventure I call my business, so stand by for a bit more movement over the next few months!  Now that I have a studio set up it is easier to think about moving forward again.

My sewing studio.  Still need to work on the curtains and carpet and paint - well the decor generally - but the space is awesome!!

My sewing studio. Still need to work on the curtains and carpet and paint – well the decor generally – but the space is awesome!!

I have been focussing on my own health a bit more over the last couple of months.  For the first time in my living memory I have lost weight, and kept it off, and passed that magic weight point that has alluded me for over 20 years.  You know that point where you diet, get down to a certain weight, but just can’t get below that, even though you have plenty of excess ‘body’ that could go?  I actually beat it!  Even better, I am feeling healthy and energised.  I did it using a product system that my sister is selling – I was extremely sceptical at first but have been converted.  Now to get the exercise happening a bit more regularly (my never-ending battle!)

What else have I been up to?  A quick trip to Queensland to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday.  It was a great weekend full of colour, laughs, great music and shared stories.  The interesting thing is that these are people I met a couple of years ago, by chance, at a Bluesfest.  We just clicked, and have become fast friends ever since.  The people I met at their house and the party were all just like them – warm, generous of spirit and amusing.  One of the guests said that ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ and this is so true when I think of this family!

Nothing like a tropical back yard party to set a great scene!

Nothing like a tropical back yard party to set a great scene!

With more headspace, and time to start designing again comes a return to fabric buying, researching, and coming up with ideas.  Look out – the grey matter is ticking away coming up with all sorts of ideas here!  I am even contemplating making something for myself.  I know!  Wonders will never cease!  But in the meantime here is an awesome free printable for pop-up hot air balloons that I found on the wonderful site Design is Yay, by the delightful Wita.  (That is my favourite sort of researching – finding cool things to share!!)

Our weather is just starting to turn cool, so I am even contemplating crochet again.  That change of seasons is always enough to kick me into gear!  I have been happily pinning ideas on Pinterest (so addictive but such a good way to capture ideas for later!)

I hope that your week is going well and that you have awesome plans for your weekend!

A performance!

Tonight was the culmination of weeks of hard work, sweat, logistics, cursing, juggling and planning. And that was just from the parents! Tonight my eldest chick and her classmates performed in the first heat of the national Wakakirri competition. The kids did an amazing job. And more importantly the costumes looked fantastic! All those hours that I and other parents spent making them paid off. They looked professional and impressive up on stage.  We won’t know for another week or so how they fared in the competition but I can certainly report that they were winners as far as we were concerned.  I have no photos yet, but will share some when they are available.  (It seems only fair after all my complaining about making costumes!!)

I had a nice bonus tonight too, with the middle chick joining me for a pre-show hot chocolate at a flash café. It is a rare thing to have one on one time with any of the children, so she and I enjoyed chatting and being all sophisticated and grown up together! The boy wasn’t feeling left out though – he had a ‘date’ with his favourite babysitter, and enjoyed having her all to himself for a few hours.

I have started on a new project this week. It is one that I have been putting off for months as I couldn’t work out how to tackle it. A friend (my magical housekeeper) asked me to make her a quilt using the sarong that she wore, and the shirt that her husband wore, when they were married on a beach in Fiji. Lovely in theory, but difficult in reality. The shirt is a very light cheesecloth, while the sarong is Rayon and therefore moves everytime you look at it! But on Monday I decided to bite the bullet and start. And then a wonderful thing happened. The white cloth that I pulled out to use turned out to be fusible cotton (I thought I had bought some but hadn’t been able to find it over the last few months so decided I must have been confused!). It was perfect for ironing on the back of the shirt material to give it strength and stability. That gave me the confidence to cut the rayon. I am adopting the approach that I can’t stress about bits that might be a little crooked etc, as long as the overall product works. I am using the block pattern found on the Moda BakeShop site called Salt Water Taffy. I will use white in the blocks, and then will use some grey and brown from the colours in the sarong and shirt for sashing. Fingers crossed it works, otherwise I have just cut up two special garments for no reason!!

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After the excitement of the day (we were doing full hair and makeup at 7am) and night (the performance didn’t finish until 9.30pm) I am exhausted and heading for bed. Sewing will have to wait a day or two I think!!

I hope that your week is going well and that you have found pockets of excitement of your own!

A quilt for the boy

I have finished piecing the quilt top I am making for my boy.  I have realised that at some point I forgot to swap the piecing around as much as I planned, so there is one piece in the bottom right hand corner that stands out as being ‘back to front’, but given the overall scrappy nature of this one, I can live with it.  So, while I don’t love it as much as I might, now that it is all together it is growing on me!  I will outsource the quilting to a local quilter as, if I wait to do it myself, it will be ready for his grandchildren to use!

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As usual I can see all the mistakes, mismatched seams, uneven widths etc….. but I am reminding myself that the overall effect is what others see, and that, as I noted yesterday, the boy will love it because it is his.  He won’t care about seams, patterns, or anything else.  He will spot the pictures from Dr Seuss, Batman, Star Wars, the aliens from his baby quilt, the bright colours, the fabric from his pyjamas, the pirate ships, and the stars, and will know that it is all about him.

Autumn planning

Autumn has finally hit Canberra – it is dark when I get home from work, there are piles of leaves everywhere, and last night I turned on the central heating for the first time this year.  The first frost is predicted for tomorrow morning, and the way that the air feels this morning, I believe it!  It has been snowing in the mountains and the wind is carrying that icy feel very effectively.

This week I had a day trip to Melbourne for work.  The meetings were extremely worthwhile, and I managed to see a beautiful friend for 10 minutes before heading to the airport on the principle that 10 minutes was better than not seeing her at all!  I took my green bag and it had the traditional airline lounge photograph but I have to say that amongst all the traditional Melbourne black and grey it did stand out as I was striding about the city with my glamorous companions.

Then on Thursday I attended the beginner resin workshop I mentioned in my last post.  I loved it!  It was amazing to see the different products that each of us produced when we were all presented with the same options in materials, colours, shapes etc.  I decided to go for a sea feel so used a transparent green tint, with a blue metallic powder (love) and then a swirl of a rich blue at the end.  Although I can see where I can improve on buffing the end results, I was completely delighted with the colour results!  So if any of you are in the Canberra region I highly recommend checking out the Canberra Creatives site – not only do they have great classes, but there is a mega craft day at the Downer Community Centre on 4 May that looks amazing.

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So after a week of interrupted evenings and some fairly long days in the office, trying to manage the ever increasing workload, by Friday night I was ready to collapse in a pile when I got home.  However, after doing a bit of tidying up and sorting through little piles that had collected, it occurred to me that what I needed was some sewing (of course!!).  I have been struggling with getting to the quilt I started for the boy last year, and have been feeling all of those pointless emotional responses like guilt, avoidance, etc.  So last night I pulled out what I have done, came up with a plan, and starting sewing and cutting.  I am working on having 6 large blocks that I will then join with sashing, and then make up any size shortfall with a border.

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This quilt is a classic example of what not to do – I didn’t have a plan when I started, hadn’t calculated block sizes, and kept changing my mind at each point.  I don’t love the result – but can live with it, and am filing it away as a lesson learnt.  The next quilt will have a design and a plan, and will probably be much more fulfilling to make!  This one will end up like an explosion of colour and pattern and be very scrappy – but I know that at the end of the day the boy will love it, no matter what, because I made it, just for him, and with love.

The rest of the weekend is looming before me, full of possibility.  In fact so much possibility that I am almost (but not quite) frozen with indecision!  I want to make a Tova tunic dress from some lovely fine corduroy (the cold weather is pushing me that way!), to start on orders that my sister sent me when she heard that I was finished the last batch (thanks sis!), and to make a bag design I have been playing with in my head.  On the practical front I need to clean out the children’s wardrobes for the seasonal change over, clean out their toy boxes before they return so that things can disappear to someone who will use them, and attend to a bit more de-cluttering.  So much to do and so little time – I think I will start with a cup of tea and contemplate it all!

I hope that you have a great weekend, whatever you are doing.