Monthly Archives: August 2020

Some Productivity

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Another week has gone by and I wonder what I did to faff my way through it! There was one big, colourful customer quilt. I tried to quilt rainbows onto it but the pattern kept crashing the system so I used a substitute pattern called “Dizzy Izzy”.

Nessie tried out her new, fleece rain suit. She was not altogether pleased at putting it on and taking it off but once it was on she did not mind at all and it kept her clean on a muddy walk.

Freya and I both made new sourdough starters for bread making.  I was excited when my KitchenAid pasta press finally arrived after months of back order and I made some vegan macaroni, substituting egg for a paste of ground flaxseed. This dried successfully in the dehydrator which is more than I can say for my semi-dried tomatoes and blueberries which obviously should have been vacuum packed since both went horribly mouldy in their soft state. 

I made 2 wearable pyjama tops using the simple and voluminous Athina pattern. My overlocker decided that it did not want to sew properly so I spent most of a day servicing it, panicking that it might have to be sent away for weeks

or be replaced. I tipped it upside down to clear out fluff, changed needles and the blade, before finally realising that

a tiny spring had jumped out of place. That was enormously satisfying. My next challenge was remembering how to thread the cover-lock machine to finish the hems. It is not actually complicated, just fiddly and would not have taken so long if I had consulted the instruction manual sooner rather than later.

After months of procrastinating, I got Freya to film an off-the-cuff workshop/studio tour that I have uploaded to YouTube. It was really just to check that I could make a half decent video and see if it would spur me on to having a go at some instructional videos. I had forgotten how much I enjoy making informal, short clips so despite the dark clouds of Covid and Nella’s illness, I hope to go ahead and make some more. It is quite surprising what people watch on YouTube – this week (for research) we have watched videos on garden tours, grinding flour at home, macrame bags, spice jar organisation and even stationery shopping. 

There has been a nip of autumn in the air so I guess summer is “officially” over. I need to do what I have not done in months and make some To-Do lists. Apart from getting brave enough to make more videos I need a proper project of some sort as I have not quilted in earnest for ages.

Cutting Some Slack

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For some time on my blog there has been the theme of feeling of guilt at not being busy or creative enough. I keep telling myself that I will move forward when the summer is “officially” over. Well, schools in Scotland have gone back after a much longer than usual break. The nights are drawing in, the rowan berries are on the trees and there is a nip in the air but as far as I am concerned, it is still officially summer! I managed to quash most of my guilt and spend most of the week just pottering, getting some useful things done on the way.

I had to quilt the Postcard from Sweden quilt over 2 days because the pattern was intense but I saved the project and opened it up without any bother on day 2. I love the “Folk Flowers” pattern by Sunstone Quilting and I think it looks fab on the rainbow triangles. I made a scrappy binding and sewed the topside down by machine with a blanket stitch. The quilt has gone on my bed, even though it does not co-ordinate at all with anything else in the room. I don’t care – it is joyful:)

Having used a decorative stitch on my binding, I decided to use an obvious zigzag stitch on two customer bindings. It is actually much easier than keeping a straight line dead straight, especially if a customer happens to have provided one that varies in width throughout. 

Nessie was given a clean bill of health at her post-op checkup and is totally back to her usual naughty self:)

I made two macrame projects using green cord which was thinner than I had expected. It is a nice colour but not as chunky as I would have liked. That is the trouble with placing an online order. I have now cut a lot of pink cord for a bag but I can’t seem to understand step 1!

 

Over the course of the last week or so I have posted 10 days of quilt photos on social media. This was a really good exercise in reminding myself about how many interesting things I have made over the years. I was really hunting around for photos because my laptop had crashed and seemingly lost everything. I decided to try once more to see if anything useful had been stored on my external hard drive. After some serious rummaging, I was delighted to find files that were hiding deep inside other files and I now have all of my old stuff back, including my kids’ photos! Just that should go down as a major achievement of the week. 

My next mission is to make decent lasagne pasta using the KitchenAid. I have rolled out extremely rustic flat bits of dough that look nothing like the ones in the instruction book. I think mine may be a bit chewy. 

I still have not come up with a next major project but my kids suggested that I do a YouTube studio tour so maybe I will look into that. In the meantime, I have ordered some unicorn and hedgehog stretch jersey for PJ’s so that should keep me busy for now…

Avoidance Tactics

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I am a great one for finding alternative things to do when I am putting things off. I am not entirely sure what that might be – probably expenses, plucking up the courage to teach online, tackling the airing cupboard, planning a new show quilt…

I turned down 2 large commissions this week. One was a quilt to be made from scratch involving traditional appliqué, which is not my forte and the other was a rush custom quilting job. The customer had very specific design requests on a massive quilt to be completed in less than 2 weeks. I decided that I just did not need the stress of that demanding deadline and I felt relieved to have decided not to take it on.

I worked on the Postcard from Sweden quilt, telling myself that it is still technically the summer holidays so I can do what I like. I suppose at some point I will have to something that feels like actual work again. 

The quilt had to be sorted into piles so the colours stayed where they were meant to be according to the pattern. I may have muddled a few but it is pretty close to the original. I decided to press all of the seams open. Since I did not use pins or trim every block to an exact size, not every single point is perfect but that was not really what this project was about for me. It was simply to give myself some quilting “downtime”. I even quilted it using the Qmatic because I wanted to use the “Funky Flower” digital pattern by Natalia Majors. 

My time was also taken up with trying to decide what macrame project to tackle next. The instructions in my new books are all Greek to me or I have the wrong size of cord. Rather than master simple plant hangers I want to tackle the most complicated item, obviously! I am still obsessively ploughing my way through Duolingo, even some of its obscure phrases – “At this height agriculture is not possible”, not seeming like the handiest sentence I would ever need to know. Despite 6 months of learning this way I am still far from fluent, clueless in grammar or able to hold a conversation but I have a wider German vocabulary on the days that I can actually remember the new words.

I called the vet to enquire when I should book Nessie in to be spayed because I do not want her to end up with the same health issues that Bumble had later in life. Two days later she had the major operation. She was groggy and wobbly afterwards but amazingly, soon back to her usual self, chasing the cats and jumping onto the sofa. 

The weather forecast is for rain all of next week so maybe that would be a good time to do some forward planning – or alternatively, some macrame;)

There are Bigger Things in Life

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I have to keep telling myself that there are bigger things in Life than worrying that I may not have a useful “plan” of what I should be doing each day. The horrific explosion in Beirut and the ongoing Pandemic are sharp reminders that it does not matter one jot to humanity if I decide to spend hours knotting string or make a quilt just because I feel like it. I should stop feeling guilty about how I fill my days. I do not mean that to sound like I am belittling world events – it is just that in the grand scheme of things, my minor stresses are simply irrelevant. 

This week I had coffee at home with friends whom I had not seen in weeks, walked the dog, kept up with Nella’sroutine, worked obsessively through Duolingo German quizzes and simply kept going with daily life.

I am still not an expert at using a narrow Hemmer foot, have not made any Youtube tutorials, have not shaved my legs and, have not picked every single cherry from the trees in the garden.

However, I did print out a free pattern from Tessuti to make the Athina top which was easy. I used a piece of African cotton which is a bit stiff, even after a hot wash but it is still a wearable garment. 

 

I tied many, many knots to make a short curtain for Nella’s cupboard. I am very good at some of the basic knots and just made it up as I went along.

My Postcards from Sweden kit arrived and I have made the first row. It is an easy quilt except you do have to keep track of the colours, some of which are very similar to each other. 

 

I keep saying I will take a few days holiday but that is easier said than done. Therefore, I must allow myself time to slow down. Perhaps I should carry on with a few low key projects for now and hope to have a re-boot in the autumn.

Added Extras

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Throwing caution to the wind, I “allowed” myself time to complete the Virtual log cabin quilt at the start of the week. I decided to do it all using the quilt computer so started with some tight spirals then quilted a large Warli pattern over the top of that with bold, yellow cotton thread. I bound it and put it straight onto our scruffy, family sofa, upon which pets are welcome to perch. I have not liked a quilt quite so much for ages. Firstly, it is getting seen every day and I love all of the random fabrics surrounding the cheerful yellow centres. I really like how a truly scrappy quilt which uses many different pieces is a surprise and how an “anything goes” approach makes it so much more interesting. 

I did actually do a couple of customer quilts and apart from expecting one or two to arrive by post, have caught up again for now.

This left me time to mess about with other projects. I actually made a lightweight tunic-dress using the Wiksten pattern. I applied my measurements to the size chart and made a very generous version. I am not sure whether it is actually too big – the danger of down-sizing would have been that it may have been too fitted. At any rate – it was easy! I added some top-stitching, learned what “under-stitching” means and went on to make a matching hair-band and face mask. Maybe I do look like a fancy surgeon;)

 

Because I don’t have any particular projects or deadlines I treated myself to a summer holiday book on macrame. It is jam packed with over ambitious items. I started with a covered jam jar, could not follow the secret code on how to end it so made it up until it looked finished. I really want to make the fabulous indoor tent but dread to think how much the frame and over 6000 feet of rope might cost.

 

The other dead-end alley that I took myself up was trying to use special narrow hem feet to make a tiny napkin hem. Nella questioned why I was actually bothering because how many napkins and bandanas do I realistically need to make? However, it became a matter of principle. The long and the short of it is that there are many different variations of hem feet and several YouTube videos but I have still not sussed it. I already had one foot which must be for chiffon and I bought another one that seems to be for zigzagging but I think I want one in between, just in case I decide to srcreenprint and sell napkins at a Farmer’s Market… and who is to say that I might not?!