Friday, June 23, 2017

The Hiatus Continues

I seem to have lost my will to blog... not my will to live but my will to blog. I can't believe that in 2 months this is only my 2nd blog post. Not sure why and I am sorry for my loyal followers who will now have given up on me and gone to places else where for their blog fix. 

In the month since I last wrote my main creative input has been in scanning, editing, labelling and posting on Facebook my mother's negatives. She was an avid photographer although not necessarily proficient she was prolific. We children were the main subject for her photography as she documented our growing up.

My Uncle's family (on left) and our family on right. I am the little one in the pram near my dad. Its my siblings up to the tallest girl and the other side is my Uncle Jack's family. They lived a hour or so away from us at this time. 

I have now scanned all the negatives. It was quite a process. The 35mm ones were simple enough as I had a small scanner, given to me by my daughter several years ago. It scanned the photo and converted it to a positive digital image that I was able to edit quite easily. The black and white negatives from before she acquired the 35mm camera were harder. I had to scan them on our flat bed scanner, then use another program to convert the negative scan to a positive image, and then edit and enhance the picture using one of a number of programs. The flat bed scanner didn't always do a great job and I am seriously considering getting a special photographic scanner to redo the negatives to get a clearer image. but that won't be till Christmas. Anyway - its been an interesting going over the photos and trying to work out where they were taken and why and sometimes who.

My dad and me. I was named after him so it Philipa and Philip

My main way of identify the people and the occassion has to been to put them on facebook where my siblings and cousins can see them and work with me. I am the youngest in my family of 8 children as well as being  the youngest of the cousins on Dad's side and the 4th youngest on mum's. 
This photo really amused our family. Its the 5 youngest children. There was obviously a litter of kittens and puppies at this point on the farm but some how my youngest brother (near dad) only got a cut apple to hold. He looks somewhat bemused by this

It has illicted a lot of discussion amongst us all which has been great.
Our small community used to have a Fancy Dress ball for the kids each year. With very little money but lots of imagination mum would manufacture costumes for us all. This year (the earliest one I can find photos for) I was about 3 and went as Old King Cole. One of my sisters was  the pipers that he called for (mum didn't realise that the pipe he called for was his smoking pipe.)

Old King Cole was a merry old soul
And a merry old soul was he.
He called for his pipe and he called for his bowl and
he called for his fiddlers three

This has taken up a lot of my time - time I would usually spend sewing. I haven't missed my sewing time which is really weird for me. I feel like I am still in a bit of a hiatus or waiting time. I wonder if my excessive sewing over the last year or so has burnt me out. I have finished off a lot of quilts and other projects and thoroughly enjoyed my time. Now might be just a time of rest and recuperation.

My 2nd eldest sister Joy holding me when I was about 5 months old

I have done some projects. The Twilter group (on Facebook and Twitter) has been working on a QAL using a pattern called Layer Cake Explosion by Angela Gross from Quilts Bayou. The pattern is a free one from Craftsy but the instructions are fairly minimal as it was designed to be a class pattern, that she explained in the lesson. Daisy (from Laisy Daisy Quilts and Reads blog and podcast) is running the QAL on Facebook and she is writing the more detailed instructions for us. I happened to go on a retreat a couple of weeks ago and took it with me. I hadn't really started the QAL up till then and went from the beginning right through all the steps, using the pattern and managed to get in a muddle at one point as... well I was ahead of the game. Daisy kindly helped me along but the putting together clue is not being explained till the proper time.

So yes... I went on a retreat. I have been going to this particular retreat since 2002 (I think it is) I've missed a couple of years for various reason but have attended 11 or 12 times by my reckoning. The retreat itself celebrated its 30th birthday this year. Our theme was Pearls (for 30th anniversary) and the dinner theme was Pearls or T for thirty. This is the first year I have taken a friend with me and it was extra fun because of that. In the past, whilst people are always friendly and many of them I have known for the 15 years I have been going and some from before that even, it was nice to have someone who was MINE so to speak. We shared our accommodation, shared the same table group, sat together at meals mostly etc. It was lovely.

I made a couple of mug rugs for the swap we did on the weekend, worked on the mystery quilt and made a heap of hanging towels for Handmade With Love. It was productive.

I really need to get on with my Comic Con sewing as I have just over a month till we leave home to go on our trip to Japan, Europe and the UK. Once back from there it is just 10 days till the event. (I thought it was going to be 3 days and had timed it perfectly but Comic Con is a week later than I thought. Glad its not a week earlier) So I will have a bit of time to sew once we get back but not much.

Since the retreat I have cut out about 25 Easy Cosmetic zipper bags (from the pattern by So Sew Easy) The stiffening has been ironed on and I have started inserting the zips. Hopefully I will get them all done in the next few weeks. I have scraps and can sew more of the ear bud pounches and the teeny tiny zipper bags too. I am not sure if I will make any more of the laptop or iPad bags at this point. Will see.

I am sorry that I have been missing in action. I am trying to get myself motivated and back on track but its a bit of a hard slog. When I am travelling I will try to use my blog as my travel diary and so will be more prolific... which is great if you like travel stuff but for those looking for Sewing inspiration... yeah not so great.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

An Unexpected Hiatus

After the full on nature of the A to Z challenge I have found that I haven't blogged for a whole month. This is the only blog post I have made for May. This was totally unplanned and unexpected and I can't really explain it.

The A to Z challenge was full on... but I have participated in it for 3 years now and have previously maintained by usual blogging during the challenge or resumed it straight after it. This year I did make the blocks I blogged about so that was a bit of extra pressure but I had them done well and truly before the challenge started and had the quilt mostly put together as well. 

The challenge was organised differently this time - you had to post your blog post link to the various forums (the challenge web page, the facebook group etc) each day - there wasn't a master list of blogs to follow. As well I posted my links to Twitter each time... so it was a bit more work. And I tried really hard to keep up visiting other blogs, which were a bit harder to visit with the absence of the master link.

So that all added more stress to the challenge of the Challenge.

Yet again for the Challenge ie the month of April we were travelling - its always harder to do stuff away from home so there was that too. I don't know why we always seem to travel in April... I'm sure we didn't until I started to do the Challenge. In 2015 we were in Malaysia, in 2016 we had 2 weddings and a trip to pick up our caravan in Melbourne 

This year... I went to Brisbane to go to see My Fair Lady with Fangirl (our only daughter), and stayed on. Fixit Guy  (my husband) joined me and all the family gathered in the beautiful Tambourine Mountains (hinterland of Gold Coast) for Easter to celebrate Fixit Guy's 60th birthday. It was lovely for the 8 of us to be together and just hang out. We played board games and card games, talked ate, drank, went for walks, had family photos taken and generally just hung out. Our oldest son (known as The Beast) and his girlfriend (Beauty) flew up from Melbourne to spend the time with us too.

The following week we spent in Brisbane, splitting our time between Fangirl's home and the Town House that our younger boys share (Known as Kombi Boy, his partner  is Gamer Girl and youngest son Boyo). On the weekend I went to Supanova for the day to get an idea of what that was like. Fangirl has a stall there (that Boyo helps on- he's her minion) and in September Gamer Girl and I will share a stall at Comic Con.

The day after we went to Comic Con Fixit Guy and I drove south to Sydney and environs where we spent time visiting my siblings who live there and my mum. (I am the youngest of 8 and 6 of them live in and around Sydney). On the day of his actual birthday we went out to dinner with my siblings and their partners which was a lot of fun.

We were still in Sydney at the end of April, travelling home in the first week of May.

I did do some sewing whilst away - My first project was the Labyrinth Quilt. I had it all cut out and the pieces all in little ziplock bags to make it easier. I managed to get the top assembled in my first week in Brisbane.

 I'd prepped a lot of projects for my Handmade With Love stall at comic con and I sewed them whilst in Brisbane (although I didn't take them up the Mountain with us for Easter) and also whilst at a couple of places we stayed in Sydney. I visited a great quilt shop in Sydney and bought myself a few yards of fabric.

And this brings me to another reason I have been blogging. I have always enjoyed tracking my stash usage - ever since I started doing it. But I have lost track this year. I finished off some quilts and gave them away and forgot to measure them beforehand - and then I bought fabric and used it or put it away before I tracked it as well. I kept thinking I will do that... I will write it down before I forget... but I have forgotten and the sense of not doing it properly has weighed on me. Guilt is a really bad thing for creativity.

Since we got back from our trip - 3 or 4 weeks now - I have done very little sewing. I seem to have lost my mojo. I have several mystery quilts/QAL that I am supposed to be participating in but I just haven't gotten my act together and got myself sorted. I have to fix some of the projects I worked on whilst away - a few mistakes and it just puts me off doing any more since I have to fix them and I can't get my act together to fix them. I have been going to Handmade with Love weekly and sewing or cutting out or doing what I am told rather than sewing any of my own projects. I have also been going up to our own patchwork group but with that I find I am going late and leaving early. But I am still going. Mostly I have been organising myself for one of the Mystery Quilts.

Next week my good friend Lyndi and I are off on a 4 day quilting retreat. I am trying to get myself organised for that... need to get those QAL, Mystery quilt and projects organised to take so I can sew away. This is the first time I have taken a friend to Patch n Piece. I have been going for close on 15 years (all my quilting life) and have gotten to know people there who have become good friends but this is the first time I have taken along my own mate. It will be so fun.

I haven't been idle whilst not sewing. I bought home from Sydney with me a box of my mother's negatives that one of my sisters has had for 10 years or so. She has scanned all (or is in the process of scanning all) mum's slides but wasn't up to tackling the negatives as well. About 2 weeks ago I started the job and man is it absorbing. I have scanned all the 35ml negatives and this last few days started on scanning the negatives that are older and bigger. Its super time consuming and the results aren't always the best but it is lots of fun. I have been putting the scanned, enhanced images onto facebook for my siblings and cousins and families to enjoy and they have been a source of great enjoyment and discussion.

So... this was just to check in and let you know I am still here and still intend to blog... just lost my mojo for a little while. I will be trying to be more regular. 

this is me as a 3 year old, dressed as Old King Cole for the Fancy Dress Ball held in our community each year. About 1962

Sunday, April 30, 2017

End of the Month Goal wrap up... and some new ones

Its the end of the month and its time to review my goals. I am pretty happy with the progress I have made and the goals I have completed although I didn't get through all of them.

Firstly my sucesses.

Prepare items for Handmade With Love stall. I got a pile of things prepped for me to take away with us for our trip - can't remember exactly but I think its 4 laptop messenger bags and 10 iPad messengers bags. I also got organised a pile of fabric and wadding and zippers ready to make little earbud pouches and coin purses.

Work on Labyrinth Quilt. I bought the fabric for this and got it cut out (that might have been last month) Whilst we were away I got the 9 blocks made and the quilt top together. When I get home again I will decide if it needs another border and then make the backing.

Complete Secret Quilt Project 1 - this was acutally the t'shirt quilt that I made my daughter Fangirl. I got it quilted and bound and now she has it and I can name it.

Complete Secret Quilt Project 2 - this was a t'shirt quilt I was making my son ie The Beast. I got it quilted and bound as well and he now has it. 

Complete A to Z quilt. I got this quilted and bound before leaving for our holiday as well. It is to be a gift for a family memember too. They haven't as yet received it so won't say who it is for.

Complete the A to Z Blogging challenge. This finishes today and - yay I got it done. I blogged every day in April (apart from the first 4 Sundays). I actually got mine written ahead of time which relieved much of the stress for me. I had them scheduled to go up each day and just had to go in and add the links each day to facebook, twitter and the challenge blog. I must admit I didn't quite fulfill all the duties of a participant and didn't visit as many other blogs as I had planned but hopefully over the next few weeks I will visit many more (the links are still up so should be able to do it)

And then the ones that I didn't complete fully

Complete April Clue in Charlotte Hawks mystery. This is an almost. The last clue was putting the units together into a block and then assembling the blocks. I got the blocks done but to complete the clue was the putting together and to do that I needed some sashing in the background fabric but I didn't have any more of the background fabric left and I wasn't sure if I was going to need it or not. I planned to wait till I got home and spread them out on the design wall and work out if I needed the sashing and if so, what I could use. However I was in a fabric shop this past week and found something pretty similar so now I have fabric which I will use when I get home (no cutting mat to do it while I am away)

Complete 20 items for Handmade With Love stall. This didn't happen. I got 8 things made which was pretty good considering we were travelling for most of the month (I left home on the 6th April).

Its a bit hard to really think of this coming month's activities since we are still away from home although we are planning on heading home this week.

  • work on the Labyrinth quilt - make backing
  • complete the messenger bags which I have cut out and also the zipper pouches.
  • make some cosmetic bags
  • complete Charlotte Hawks mystery quilt
  • Work on club mystery quilt
  • work on Twilter's project
  • update stash report. (I haven't put in the fabric purchases I have made this trip nor the quilt finishes I have had or the completed messenger bags ... a bit behind)

Z is for Zenith

This month I'm participating in A to Z Challenge, where 100's of bloggers around the world challenge themselves to write every day for the month of April, working their way through the alphabet.  I'm sewing a patchwork block for each letter of the alphabet. Each day I will share that block and a little about the block and direct you to where you can find a tutorial for that block on the Web.

This is the last day of the challenge. Who hoo we made it.

Z is for Zenith

The Zenith block is the only one NOT found on Quilter's Cache. When I looked there, there was not a suitable block for me to use in this challenge so I went to my reliable brain's trust aka my Twilter's group on Facebook and told them of my dilemma and like all good brain's trusts they came to my rescue. 

There were a few other suggestions as well but this one was the best (because it had a net presence and I could link you, my lovely readers, to the pattern) One suggestion was that I design my own (ummm no) but my fall back was to get one of the Twilter's named Zina to choose a block for me that I could call Zina's Choice. 

Anyway I didn't need to resort to designing my own or dobbing Zina in to choose one for me.

 Zenith can be found here  on a website called Patchwork Square owned by Wendy Russell. My colour selection was very similar to the one made by Wendy. I like how it turned out very much. Its made up of a collection of flying geese, half square triangles and square in a square.

Tomorrow I will show you the back of the quilt with this block in plus the finished quilt - you will have to come back again now won't you.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Y is for Yankee Charm

This month I'm participating in A to Z Challenge, where 100's of bloggers around the world challenge themselves to write every day for the month of April, working their way through the alphabet.  I'm sewing a patchwork block for each letter of the alphabet. Each day I will share that block and a little about the block and direct you to where you can find a tutorial for that block on the Web.

Today's block, Yankee Charm is found on Quilter's Cache here 

It's identified by Marcia Hohn (who owns that website) as being from the 1930s. Its a fairly simple straight forward block made up of half square triangles, squares and rectangles.

Marcia has a diagram of a quilt made from Yankee Charms with the 2 colours alternated in blocks. It looks great and has a very much a tiled floor look. I am very tempted to make it... it is going to go on the One Day pile

Its a two colour block on Quilters Cache but traditionally it was a 3 colour block.

I found a few other examples of the block of that name on the internet but which was different. Yet again we run into the situation where a block can develop variations over the year, and where the same name is applied to a variety of blocks


Today is the 2nd last day of the challenge. We have completed 25 days and that means that the final row of the A to Z quilt is complete  The last block will go on the back. This is the quilt top, minus the borders.

Friday, April 28, 2017

X is for X Marks the Spot

This month I'm participating in A to Z Challenge, where 100's of bloggers around the world challenge themselves to write every day for the month of April, working their way through the alphabet.  I'm sewing a patchwork block for each letter of the alphabet. Each day I will share that block and a little about the block and direct you to where you can find a tutorial for that block on the Web.

Today's block, X Marks the Spot is found on Quilter's Cache here. It is an original design by Marcia Hohn. I was intrigued when I started to read the instructions that I had to cut 36 2" squares. These were used to "snowball" all the corners of the rectangles or squares to make the diamonds in the corners and the other designs. It is a much more wasteful way of sewing these shapes but much easier. To do it other ways would require lots of templates to cut designs and well as the sewing of triangles to corners.

Its a fun design. This is my attempt. I love my kombi van fabric. I have used it all up now just about. Sigh.

More than the block itself I love the designs that came out in the diagram of the quilt made from just this block. Another one for the one day maybe list.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

W is for Wagon Tracks

This month I'm participating in A to Z Challenge, where 100's of bloggers around the world challenge themselves to write every day for the month of April, working their way through the alphabet.  I'm sewing a patchwork block for each letter of the alphabet. Each day I will share that block and a little about the block and direct you to where you can find a tutorial for that block on the Web.

The pattern for today is Wagon Tracks and can be found here on Quilter's Cache. Its a traditional block that isn't really that special as an individual block

However when you see a whole quilt made from the block it really comes into its own. Its rather striking I think you will agree