Sunday, 24 November 2013

A six week post!


Trying to sum up the last six weeks in one post - where do I start? Maybe here, this is the view I had at breakfast this morning:


Work
Work continues to take up most of my time; I went to Ulearn 2013 in Hamilton in October which was great on many levels. I met up with lots of people I had only known online, I scored some freebies from exhibitors and I came away with the realisation I am not as dumb as I sometimes think;) I also presented there on why and how to connect with learners. I am very passionate about the topic, but I did some key mistakes with assumptions about the participants - a big learning curve! You can read more about this on my other blog, thebelbird.blogspot.com. You can also find me on twitter regularly - well maybe lots? or - ok then, almost always! @BeLchick1 is my twitter handle, but only follow me if you are interested in future-oriented teaching and learning, e-learning or game-based learning, otherwise you might find me very boring!
We had a couple of f2f events over the last 6 weeks which are always great, tiring and a mission to juggle with DH's work roster and the kids' schools. One of the coolest experiences was when one of the guest speakers tweeted about our event that she was meeting with the 'who is who in NZ e-learning'! She surely must have meant everyone else there?
Then there was the big data day last Wednesday where we had to have loads and loads of documents and evidence submitted. This was my first experience of this, I can see how I could improve this for me for future occasions.
On top of that I took on a few other work related commitments, such as presenting at another conference in January, signing up for the Google Summit in Auckland next April, dabbling with offline Minecraft servers and setting up a Google site for it...
Did I mention that in between I did my actual work like in-class modelling, online tutorials, workshops and staff meetings??

Jobs
As usual for this time of the year, there was worry about jobs. My contract is due to expire on 31 December so I had to go looking for jobs. While I love what I do (and I think I am not too bad at it either ;D), I find I quite hard to juggle the kids with it. I seriously looked into going back teaching but have not been accepted in a position locally yet. I even made a digital CV for my applications! In the meantime my contract has been extended by 12 months, so the whole scenario will repeat next year. In addition we will be working with more schools, further away from each other. I am really not sure if I can do the kids and the job justice?!

Schools
Middle DS is finishing primary school and has been accepted at the high school we had hoped - yay! Oldest DS unfortunately has not been accepted there. We will have to make some serious decisions, he will be in Y10 next year and it is very important that he can take the subjects he needs for his chosen career (programming) as well as a broad range of other subjects. At least the youngest boy will be fine for another couple of years!

That finally brings me to sewing!
I have actually made some progress:


I have also pieced the back, but it is a bit short (no photo yet, sorry). With a little bit of help from my friend Suz I will have enough pheww. Threads have arrived at the Country Yard and should be here some time this week so I can start quilting!

I have also worked on the Tokyo Subway Quilt, we were doing blocks 19 & 23 in October, and 24 & 25 in November. I laid mine out in a different order, so 19 and 25 are done, and 24 is under way:



Suz and I have had numerous discussions about the new AQC Challenge, "Ten". I just need to find that mojo somewhere... By the way, my Frei quilt is on the way home now, will be interesting to see how it has lasted...

On the hunt for that mojo Suz and I had a play with scraps yesterday. Inspired by a recent post on "Me and My Quilts - Exploring Possibilities" we made some cards. This is my finished collection:

With summer just around the corner and beautiful sunny days as of late, DH and I have been busy weeding and mulching, alternating with dips in the pool which today was at 31degC! I better go out and water the garden tonight!

Christmas will be over if I wait another 6 weeks to my next post, I better get onto it! Love reading everyone's posts, though!

Happy sewing!






Tuesday, 8 October 2013

That will teach me! (maybe...)

Late last night I wrote a post and it vanished without trace!!! That should teach me about late night blogging, shouldn't it? See, the tv programme is rubbish at the moment and DH goes off to night shifts at just after 9pm - what's a gal to do?
Well, I'll try to remember what it was I had been talking to you about. Firstly what do you say to this?
 My organised random layout of the starburst blocks - I can see there are too many yellowy greens centre left so I will change this :) (I'm just a bit particular, I know!) As laid out I will set them with about 4 1/2 - 5" wide sashing which will give me plenty of negative space. Another grey border around it all, brocken up with a pieced strip of the prints and voila another quilt top. I will need a) more Kona Solid Steel (I guess), b) batting and c) backing! If I can find another solid that goes well with the prints, I might piece the backing with a vertical row of blocks off centre.
The pattern came from Lee Heinrich from freshly pieced:
At that time it was a free download, but I believe she has since turned it into a full pattern paid version. It is a very forgiving block, just the centre seams to match. Lee uses paper piecing, I just made myself some templates: 
 They look a bit worse for wear now lol. This is one pattern I would do again, possibly even with paper piecing for accuracy, look at the secondary pattern you can get: 
 Maybe have a star burst all in the same print, change size etc. etc. I can see plenty of options.

I also managed to get something arty started. For a long time I have had this image in my mind of the small mountain Gugel. My parents' house is at the edge of the residential area on the Gugel, so I have plenty of times walked, biked or driven up and down that hill. I haven't been able to find a suitable picture online, but here is an image of the chapel on the slope of the hill: 
 Google Earth is not much more helpful, really:
Well, as long as it exists in my head! Here I have started out putting a background together, trying to show rolling hills, with the road in the middle:
 It's still a bit dark at the moment. Once that is done, I will have to add a lot more detail, the freshly ploughed fields, trees in blossom the chapel sits to the left of the road, partly covered by trees... I'm thinking of applique, maybe some silk chiffon overlaid, definitely thread painting...

Since our trip to Germany I have been struck by similarities between Frankonian traditions and Maori tikanga: The reference to awa, the river, in Frankonia the river Main which has been a major transport route, and maunga, the mountain, in Frankonia probably the best known mountain is the Walberla. Family and relationships have played a big part in Frankonian life as they do in Maoridom, when you used to meet someone, you were often asked about who you belonged to (you were expected to say who your father or your grandfather is), which house you came out of (houses can have their own names, and occupant families of these have varied over the centuries), and what your nickname was (which often was inherited from your father and / or your grandfather. My family has only been in that town for 37 years, relative newcomers still, and in their residential area houses did not get given a house name, and while my late dad was well known, I don't think he got a nickname either - though still today some people will say "she is Dieter's daughter".
So following on from this I think my Germany inspired piece(s - if i ever get that far!) will go by the theme of 'Whakapapa', translated as geneology or ancestral ties. It goes with one of my personal and professional themes this year of "who am I" and "what makes us who we are". I have blooged a bit about this at thebelbird.wordpress.com if you are interested.

Well, tomorrow I'm off to Hamilton for ULearn13, New Zealand's largest e-learning conference. Lots of great workshops to attend, catch up with friends, colleagues, tweachers (teachers on twitter) and on Friday it's time for my workshop of Connecting with your learners - wish me luck!

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Me again...

 Tokyo Subway Map Quilts, blocks 13&14 (September) completed:
Suz and I decided we will stick with the colours we have already cut and tackle blocks 19 & 23 for October, that leaves 24 and 25 before we have to cut dark green, our last colour. It's great to see how we are making progress, just 8 more blocks!!!
I've been thinking about using black batting to avoid the white coming through my background fabric. Has anyone tried this before, pros, cons? Can I even get black batting in NZ, and at a reasonable price?? US postage cost is making ordering batting from the States quite costly now.

This little bag for my new Chromebook has been in use for a couple of weeks, but yesterday I finally added the binding:


 A leftover piece from the lapquilt I had made for oldest DS' school auction, backed with a leftover piece of good quality polar fleece, fmq feathers all over it. A little bit of crafty creativity in my day job :)

While I am still looking for inspiration for a new piece (which needs to give instant gratification I have now decided), I have picked up my 'Fireworks' quilt again:

Following Ms. Lottie's navel gazing today over at The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady I am wondering where my creativity is heading... My head is full of art quilting ideas, but finding time for it... Today I managed to oil the wooden outdoor furniture, pull out loads of (wo)manhigh weeds from the vegie garden, set up the badminton and tennins sets and get the younger boys into playing frisbee for 1/2h. There's 4 loads of washing waiting to be folded, the floors are crying out for vacuuming and washing, I will have to go hunt for the duster that's how long I haven't used it and as for the windows - do you reckon they are ok while light still comes in?! I have been trying to talk DH into getting a cleaner again, but then so far I am jobless after 31 Dec (plenty of time to clean then, aye?). Well, back to work tomorrow, so I better get some of the firework blocks pieced tonight!

Happy Sewing!


Saturday, 5 October 2013

I lost my mind...

...somewhere, and picked up an AWFUL cold instead! It's no fun, especially now that the weather has fined up! So while I would love to show you some fancy no project, it's just some more mindless piecing:
See what I meant about the seam allowances in my last post? To the left block 13 completely pieced, to the right block 14 with the first lot of string piecing done. Of course I know how much the 1/4" sesm allowance is, but every now and then it still surprises me! I'll try to get block 14 done tomorrow, and then I better find out from Suz what's on for October :)

I promised you some pics of my German fabric purchases; remember that I had a hard time finding material and I never found any 'German' themed ones at all? These came from Ikea, not necessarily patchwork fabrics but they will work:
Just 3m of cream and 1m of cream with black handwriting. At Ikea you had to cut your own fabric. this was then weighed by the attendant and the machine spat out that little sticky. The prices were incredibly cheap (1€ approx. NZ$1.60, and with my SiL's family card they took another € off per metre!). I had two more pieces but they have come to live with Suz and with our housesitter Donna.

I also bought some curtain material to replace the cute but outdated Dino blinds in the boys' bedrooms :) One (two!) of the when I get (a) 'round to it' projects!

I really liked these fabrics though they are nothing like my 'normal' colour palette. However, I have since realised that they are polycottons, so I am not quite sure yet what I will do with them.
I also got something very special, my MiL gave me some Damask for duvet covers from her hope chest. I need to make a start on these :)
Last but not least Suz gave me this for my bday last month: 
All about music - I love it! Will have to save it for something special!

In between coughing and sniffing I haven't achieved much today, I tied up some of the piles in my sewing room and mended a few shorts etc. but nothing that would be obvious to anyone but me. I think I need to start some little creative project - middle DS' Great Barrier Reef quilt? A Germany inspired piece? Make a start on the next AQC Challenge (I better check dates)? I have a nice pile of pinks, but inspiration hasn't struck yet.
Then there are these grey/black/white/reds (not 100% sure about the ones on the left). Hmmm...
Lastly a saddish photo: My Mended Heart didn't sell so was returned to me (that's not the sad part yet!). This is what it now looks like: 
Can you see the hole in the right half of the heart? It must have happened in the mail, as the envelope has the same hole through and through:
I still haven't done anything about it, I don't think there is anything that can be done. However, I will email the organiser to please return quilts in bubble wrap envelopes in the future to better protect them.
I hope you have a productive weekend! Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Seam Allowance Shrinkage

It's amazing sometimes how much material you can loose in the seams. Compare this picture of blocks 13&14 (set out) to the picture of blocks 21&22 (pieced) from yesterday:

Slowly but surely the blocks are accumulating....
Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Another Month Bites the Dust

Well, I've caught up a bit on my Tokyo Subway Map Quilt, blocks 21 and 22 (for August) are finished!



On to September next - Suz gave me a bag of pinks last month, I better check on her blog what the September blocks were :) Somehow this quilt has been whispering to me "quilt every colour in a different fmq pattern"...
If my cold lets off tomorrow, I might get around to posting pics of the fabrics I bought in Germany back in July.
Happy Sewing!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Two finishes!

My quilting blog is getting heavily neglected nowadays, but I love reading what everyone else is up to. I have been blogging more on my e-learning blog which I have now moved over to thebelbird.blogspot.com - if you have blogging questions, I have started a page on there titled "GAFE how to's" - have a look, if your question is not answered there, feel free to contact me and I will find the answer for you:)

Last night a lot of the pressure lifted, not only has term 3 finished (which has been incredibly busy!), I also finished not just one but two items!

[I wish it was] Summer All Year Long is finished, and today I handed it to the happy recipient! Just use the label D4P (and apparently also DP4 as I have just reliased!) to see my previous posts about this. I started this project about a year ago when I finished in an emotionally very stressful job as a thank you for a friend and colleague who kept me sane! She had never seen it before today, her only requests were 'bright' and to include a pillow flap. The pattern is a disappearing four patch, I fmqed feathers and loopy squiggles (I suppose it has a proper name??), using the secondary pattern developing after piecing. I am happy to say that the recipient likes it :-)
On my bed which is a bit larger than my friend's. Finished size is 86"square.

Detail of quilting

The same block from a different angle, now you can see the four patch

I have washed it a couple of times, I like how the cotton wrinkles up.

I pieced a disappearing four patch into the back, too :)

I also made a little baby throw for Baby Chloe, the daughter of an ex-student who now lives in Melbourne (I stayed with them when I went to the AQC back in April). Chloe was not due until 11 October, but she made her entrance a bit early last Wednesday so I better get this into the mail soon!
28 1/2"square, just a little throw for a little girl :)

Some loops and butterflies in the hanky linen with just a straight outline on the Melka Dubrowski jelly roll

Striped minky on the back (no batting)

Unfortunately in my current position, term break does not equal holidays, and I will be very busy preparing my workshop for ULearn13, NZs biggest e-learning conference in Hamilton 9-11 October. On my sewing list I have my August and September (and October) blocks of the Tokyo Subway Map. I am looking forward to some 'mind-less' piecing!

Happy Sewing!


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Rain, rain go away...

It's yet another rainy weekend.... maybe it would be easier if it wasn't cold and miserable, too! Did I really grow up with frost and snow and the likes between October and May?! Must be getting old lol!


Anyway, with DH on late shift last night I joined FNSI over at Wendy's (sugarlanequilts.blogspot.com). I wanted to get another Bag done and - taadaah! - I finished it this afternoon:






As with all Elizabeth Hartman's pattern I have tried, this came together without any sweat. It isn't easy to get the right kind of interfacing around here, but this time I got some cheap light iron-on interfacing from Spotlight (at $7.99 for the lot I can't complain!) which worked a treat. The outer is duck Indian cotton, the inner a batik I bought when Grandmother's Garden last came to Whangarei (another purchase from that occasion that has become a bag ;D). This will replace my current bag from Applebottoms which looks cute but is starting to fall apart (the outer fake leather is separating from the material underneath - sorry, not very technical here!).

What else have I been up to?

Blocks 21 and 22 of Tokyo Subway have been laid out and are ready to sew (tomorrow?).

I am still stitching down the binding for the quilt for oldest DS' fundraising at school but here are some slightly better pics until the weather improves (Monday I would guess - Murphy's law...):



I have tried to continue the quilting on "Summer all year long" but despite a recent service, my Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0 still seem to have the old issues of tension problems, skipped stitches and breaking thread. I am using my favourite, Aurifil 50 weight, in the top and Signature in the bottom - this had worked beautifully originally.  It will work for a bit, and then everything will go haywire, there is a scratching sound as if the thread is catching on some rough bits on the inside. I have been trying to get some screwdrivers to have a look inside (as the machine came from oversea's I have no warranty on it anyway) but have been unable to get the right kind. Somewhere in blogland I had read about someone else having a similar issue where a part needed polishing or exchanging - I have used the machine intensively since I got it, but you would think it takes more than 1 year to wear things out?! I will try to give the technician a call on Monday and see what he says. The bill for the service didn't break the bank, but my issue is not resolved either...

So what else is going on around here?

Work is great but really busy. My schools are making great progress, but my biggest worry remains juggling work with children pick up etc. with DH on shifts - but if he worked 8-5 they would have to go to OSCAR most days which is not really what we want either... Speaking of shifts, him being at work this weekend meant no Stitch and Chat for me - again! Well, might just have to continue talking to myself...

We have to make some serious decisions about school choices for our two oldest boys: Our 13y old brought home their option choices for 2014 (they have to take 4 out of 5 options on offer). With him being at a very small school with only 16 students in his year level we knew this would happen eventually... The 10y old is in his last year at primary school and somehow I don't fancy having three boys at three different schools - but will he be happy where his brother might be happy?!

New Zealand just had another big earthquake yesterday, very unsettling for everyone down there - something I can't even imagine really! Thinking of all you down there! Time to thank our lucky stars that they brought us to the Far North all those years ago - now if we could have public transport, more opportunity for cultural things and more school choices please... Speaking of cultural things, since our recent trip to Germany I miss playing music more so than before. The children are getting older and are no longer taking up all our time - but then all too soon they will be off during their own thing... Hmmm, something to keep on thinking about...

Anyway, time to get going! Happy sewing everyone!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

I'm back!

We had a great holiday in Germany, caught up with lots of family and friends but even better the kids enjoyed our showing them where we grew up and want to go back! There were stressful times, e.g. when Mstr 13y old decided that it was time to go home to New Zealand at around day 25 of 36 and continued to tell us so at any occasion for the next 10 days, or when same boy and Mstr 8y old got quite airsick on the way home or when the nights after 36degC during the day just were unbearably hot and all three Mstrs (short for monsters?!) would not go to sleep until just before midnight... There was plenty of hearty food and drink which my hips have taken a liking to (a moment on the lips...), we have visited castles and churches, rode on trains, buses and subways etc. etc. While still not complete, you can see some of what we have been up to on our travel blog - kernzholidayingermany.blogspot.co.nz.

I have only been to ONE quilting shop in Germany - I simply couldn't see any! There used to be plenty of material shops when I grew up (about 500y ago, I know...), but the one shop I found had no fabrics I couldn't get anywhere else and just as expensive as here! I asked at one material shop that carry some quilting fabrics, the owner didn't think there were any specific German lines of quilting fabrics (here in NZ we have Kiwiana fabrics, batiks with NZ motifs etc.). Overall I was very disappointed! The only highlight in this regard was my visit to Ikea, the spoils of which will hopefully arrive per parcel soon (the suitcases must have shrunk between arrival and departure, just like my clothes while I think of it, so I had to send a parcel).

I didn't get much done as you can imagine, but one afternoon I got into some EPP:
One day this will go onto the Great Barrier Reef Quilt I plan to one day (!) make for middle DS :-)

I had a weekend at home before I went back to work, and on the second day back oldest DS came home with a request for a fundraiser item to go into their Auction of Promises, so after some checking of my stash I launched into what I think I have seen called a race quilt? Very quick and painless, backed with light polarfleece with a layer of polyester batting and by now already quilted with freehand swirls, ready to bind:

I'll take some better pics at day, the quilting shows up better on the back. Not sure that I want to make another one, it would get boring I think?

What next: Firework and Summer All Year Long need finishing, I have picked my materials for my next bag for the Bag Along, and Suz has cut the strips for the next two blocks of the Tokyo Subway quilt. Do I really have to go to work tomorrow???

Happy Sewing!