Monday 5 April 2021

It's been a while...

 ... and rather than beat myself up about the 7 months gap in blogging, I'll just take it easy and see where blogging takes me next:) I have posted more regular updates on Instagram, feel free to check them out here.

So what am I up to at the moment? The house has become rather quiet, the oldest DS who is 20 returned to university for Trimester B last year, then straight to an internship only to return from there to uni for Trimester A in February, so we only had him home for a fortnight or so over Christmas. His next younger brother (who is 18) left for his own study in a different city at the end of February, so we now only have the youngest boy left at home who at age 16 is in his second to last year at school. 

Summer came and went, New Zealand continues to do very well in regards to battling COVID-19 in comparison to other places around the world. It helps when you are an island nation and can lock down your borders tightly - not saying that business are not struggling, especially those largely relying on overseas tourists (like my work). After an uneventful summer gardening season, autumn has brought some goodies, so I have been preserving homegrown bananas, feijoas and chillies:

I'm still using monthly goals, and with Suz's encouragement I have also looked a annual goals to help put the monthly goals in perspective. Over the last month I have (once again) realised how bored I get when I make a gazillion blocks of the same pattern - those projects just seem to drag their feet... With an annual goals they might just pull through... maybe...

My annual goals for 2021:

Continue piecing:

  • Finish piecing all blocks for Rainbow at Sea
  • Complete Line Dried top (blocks, borders)
  • Piece two blocks per month for Stained Glass
  • Continue Summer Sampler 2017 (piece one block / month, then turn into flimsy)

New projects:

  • Cadence Court - piece two blocks per month

Quilting +:

  • Finish Cogs and Thistles
  • Finish Patchwork City 2018
  • Finish Twisted Star baby quilt
  • Finish Paperlanterns EPP quilt
  • Finish Whirlygig - DONE

  • Butterfly effect

I have bought a few new PDF patterns, but I am yet to commit to any of these; I am always torn between starting an exciting new project and the guilt of having unfinished projects sitting in a pile. There are a couple of distinct possibilities I have on my radar, one the #Berninaoldblocksampler, tempting because the blocks are all different and not commonly used. Maybe a way to use some curated scraps?

As in previous years, I am still practising my ruler quilting. @nataliabonner is one of my more recent discoveries, and I have subscribed to her 9 patch ruler quilting class, so I will need to piece myself a 9 patch top to practice (one of these days..). Last year I bought a number of Glide 60 cones, and I am starting to learn how to use these. Currently I am SIDing in black around the blocks of my Patchwork City 2018 top, then I will fill in the blocks with a creamy Glide so I can minimise thread changes. I had trouble with shredding thread the other day, so chances are that I end up with a gazillion thread ends anyway.

One of the unexpected learnings from 2020 is that I enjoy EPP! I completed the Paperlanterns top, and I have started a new project:

There were a few pesky y-seams when I added the borders,
but I am happy with the finished result. Now to sandwich and quilt it...

My super-sized version of the pattern by Nicole | @lillyellastitchery

After a busy long weekend with a trip to 'the big smoke' to see the big boys, today is my sewing day, so I better get into my sewing room now - Happy Sewing!!!

Sunday 6 September 2020

Spring time

We seem to be past the worst of winter - which admittedly isn't very bad at all with daily high temps 15+degC and no night time frosts. Here in Northland, our climate is classed as oceanic/subtropical, which means winters are pretty wet so nature is very green (most of the native vegetation are evergreens). The magnolias are more or less finished blooming, as are the invasive Taiwanese cherries. I am looking forward to the temperatures just rising a little more so I can get the veggie garden started.

On COVID-19, after 102 days without any cases in New Zealand (bar some citizens returning from overseas who were tested in managed isolation), August saw a new outbreak in Auckland which brought with it a swift Level 3 lockdown for Auckland, and Level 2 restrictions for the rest of the country. Locking Auckland down (1.5 Mio people - or there abouts) has had considerable impact on other parts of the country, especially up here in Northland, the only region north of Auckland. Some people described Northland as an island, and while the economic impact is hard for many businesses, the swift action also means that our communities up here are kept safe. The restrictions were partially lifted as of Monday, and we have had many travellers return to Northland, so I am checking the news daily, hoping no cases are being exported out of Auckland into the regions. Sadly there were two more deaths this week, a total toll of 24 cases for a country of just over 5 Million.

Masks are now 'a thing': They are compulsory on public transport - except there is very little public transport in our region. For other places, they are recommended when you can't socially distance. Just prior to the official announcement coming out, I started a bit of mask-making, just in case, and I have since added a few more to the collection:

These were made with a pattern by Tea Rose Home

DH has to wear masks in his teaching so the four on the right are made from the Apple + Fig Got you covered pattern

The Apple + Fig pattern seems to work quite well for wearing glasses when you include the wire (in this case pipe cleaner).
Neither the younger boys nor I have needed to wear masks just yet, but oldest DS apparently wears his away at uni, I'm rather relieved about this as he has T1D therefore is immunocompromised.

Saturday 1 August 2020

June/July was not a complete miss...

July has been a funny month... Normally I would take have a break from work in July, but we had a restructure which left us one staff member down, so I worked right through the term break. To be honest, I am not sure that was a good idea, I haven't taken time off since January and I can sure feel it... However, sometimes you just need to create your own opportunities, so Suz and I enjoyed a Sew Day at the Country Yard as well as a road trip to the Apple Basket. I had been 'good' for such a long time, using up my stash (which hasn't been looking very 'stashy' lately), so some money was spent and a few new projects started...

very 'pretty' collection to make a baby quilt

Nice to find some NZ themed prints -
yet to be decided what this bundle will make

Hubby got a new desk at the end of lockdown and we have now reorganised the sewing room / office OMG how much space we now have! Parallel to his sort out mission, I reorganised all my WIPs only to realise that you can never buy enough shoes for the shoe boxes to house your WIPs in...

Let's go through the June goals for starters:

Metrorings: Quilt the remaining 13 white diamond shapes - still some way to go...

Patchworkcity: Add remaining row of blocks - YES

I'll have to play around with the outside border width until I am happy with the final size 

Rainbow at Sea: Finish all yellow block parts - YEAH-NAH (it's a Kiwi thing...) still some more to do

Linedried: Piece Section 4B - COMPLETED

Summer Sampler 2017: Week 6 Marine Star (6") - COMPLETED

At 6" this blocks was rather fiddly...

Obviously still some way to go but I like where it is heading. I just hope I have enough material :)

Venus: Continue (leader/ender) - no progress lately. I think this project is out of sight, therefore out of mind. I will come up with a different solution so I can actually see it, it's really not a hard project and it looks so bright and happy, just right for a Kiwi winter's day.

Mini Sparkler: Piece four more blocks - no progress lately; to be honest, the blocks I have pieced so far simply don't excite me, so I will put this project away for now.

Celebration: FMQ the rest of this section - COMPLETED, and I have made a start on the coloured blocks.

This is turning out to be a great learning experience, for example I have several gazillions of thread ends all over this quilt because I haven't learnt to think through where to go from one place to another. For now I am following Judi Madsen's example from a picture I have seen online and I am very happy with the look the quilting achieves (and I will be even happier in the future when I can minimised the threads that need burying lol)

EPP: This is really a 'tv watching activity' so I will just set myself a minimum of completing the Stairway to Heaven top. Now this has turned out into an unexpected win - I actually get quite a bit done!

Clever fabric choices from Fabrics by Three
Basted, ready for quilting (by machine!)

I have since started a new project by joining the #paperlanternssal with @suedaleydesigns on IG. I started out with eppiflex templates in 1 3/4" (the largest set I could order at the time), but I have since found myself cutting additional jewel shapes from Manila folders.

Ready for week 1

Week 2 took me about 14 days

Week 3 under way

Week 4 just missing a couple of jewels top right

My colour choices were inspired by images of fractals found online, and I'm going the easy way with no fussy cutting. I can't really picture where it is heading which is quite unlike me, but I am enjoying the process (though I've realise I probably need to update my prescription again, threading needles is harder than it used to be lol).

If you're still with me, here are three of my new projects:

Brisbane MQG arranged a Zoom workshop for Cogs and Thistles with Jenny Haynes @pappersaxsten - 
not only great fun, but lots of helpful techniques, I can highly recommend it

Recognise the pretty bundle from the top of the post?

20 Tilted Star blocks from VQR with sashing should make a nice size baby quilt.

This started from an idea over coffee, drawn on the back of a docket lol...

...using a stack of muted batiks I have collated over the years it looks a bit like stained glass..

So now that's me caught up. Definitely not a miss, but my progress was rather 'bitsy'. I enjoyed the idea of working on whatever whenever, but it's easy to get lost between too many WIPs.

Here are my goals for August:

  1. Metrorings: Quilt the remaining white diamond shapes
  2. Celebration: Quilt the yellow areas
  1. Rainbow at Sea: Finish all yellow blocks
  2. Linedried: Section 5
  3. Summer Sampler 2017: Week 7 Turning Star (12")
  4. Tilted Star baby quilt: Piece 3 blocks for total of 6
  5. Stained glass quilt: Piece 4 blocks for total of 8
  1. Cogs and Thistles: Work out where to from here - buy more background and turn into large top or finish as wall hanging?
  2. Patchworkcity: Decided on width of outer borders and cut material
  3. Venus: Make project more visible
  4. EPP: Continue with Paper Lanterns
Happy Sewing!

Saturday 6 June 2020

And it's June...

It's officially winter, time to hibernate - and sew :) I have now been back at work for 3 weeks, so slowly the home office is converting back to a sewing room. I have to say I miss my cosy little office, I enjoy the company at work but I feel I get distracted more easily sharing the office with up to 5 others.

First, let's catch up with the goals I had set for May:

Metrorings: Quilt 20 of the diamond shapes on the white background - I always thought this might be a stretch, but at least I quilted 14 of 27 in total

Patchworkcity: Add row 4 - DONE

One more row to add before borders
Rainbow at Sea: Piece approx. half of the yellow blocks - I pieced all four corner blocks

They always seem relatively fiddly but they aren't really, especially as fpp
Linedried: Piece section 4A - DONE

While a mystery to me, the designer probably had a reason to call this section 4A rather than 5?
Summer Sampler 2017: Piece weeks 4 & 5 - DONE

Still in two minds about the centre fabric; I'll see what it looks like surrounded by other blocks.
This is one is quite pretty
Venus: Continue (leader/ender) - continuing

Mini Sparkler: Complete another 4 blocks - DONE
Another four blocks, and still using random scraps. Not really sure on the use of the stripes...
Eight blocks so far
I'm still not really sure where this is going, but these blocks are quick to make and are solely using up scraps.

Celebration: Design part / all of the ruler quilting, then trial one area / section - DONE
There aren't all that many examples of this particular top out there in blogosphere or on IG, and the printed top is no longer available from Honest Fabrics. I used Aurifil 50wt for the SID so I will continue with the same weight and brand of thread (and I somehow can't imagine adding more polyester to the feel of the top). While I wait for the order of matching coloured thread from my LQS, I have used Judi Madsen's example as a starting point for filling in the white spaces:
I made a start and I like it :) won't ask the teenager lol
Recently I noticed in the Fabrics by Three newsletter their 'retirement sale'. I bought a few things:

They sent way more goodies than I had ordered 💖
- and all of a sudden we have this under way:

Stitching by hand and I am enjoying it!
So now I am waiting for an order of Eppiflex Templates so I can get started on Paper Lanterns Sew Along -  maybe #EPP becomes my latest rabbit hole?

So onto June goals:

  • Metrorings: Quilt the remaining 13 white diamond shapes
  • Patchworkcity: Add remaining row of blocks
  • Rainbow at Sea: Finish all yellow block parts
  • Linedried: Piece Section 4B
  • Summer Sampler 2017: Week 6 Marine Star (6")
  • Venus: Continue (leader/ender)
  • Mini Sparkler: Piece four more blocks
  • Celebration: FMQ the rest of this section
  • EPP: This is really a 'tv watching activity' so I will just set myself a minimum of completing the Stairway to Heaven top
In other news the younger children are back at school, and the oldest child has secured accommodation on campus to return to his NZ university in July. DH is starting back teaching next week also. While New Zealand got away rather lightly so far, COVID-19 is having a lasting impact on everyone - from more vigilance regarding hygiene to 'signing into places' via the optional Covid Tracker app to keeping your distance from friends and acquaintances (no handshakes, hugs, hongis) to loss of jobs due to the financial impact, especially in tourism (which my work place belongs to). It is a sad process we have gone through and we are continuing to go through at work, saying good-bye to colleagues and friends.

However, COVID has also provided some unexpected opportunities: Our joint Raranga Matihiko teams from four museums around the North Islands have written and filmed #RarangaMatihikoTV - 16 episodes weaving together museum taonga (treasures) and digital as well as non-digital making activities. Currently available on Home Learning | Pāpa Kainga TV and TVNZ on demand, and in the future through our website (the site is being redeveloped right now, feel free to check it out now or wait a few days for things to settle into the new look). Here is one of the episodes featuring the Whare Rūnanga on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds:

And last night I signed up to an online workshop with Jenny Haynes, "Thistles Cogs & Caterpillar Wheels" through the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild; I couldn't have attended the actual workshop in Brisbane in person, so the forced move to online is really working in my favour :)

Happy Sewing!

Saturday 2 May 2020

March goals - April goals - May goals

I spent the end of March and all of April working from home, and I expect to continue to do so for at least another fortnight. Our family are lucky to be healthy and happy, both of us have been able to move to working from home pretty seamlessly, and all three boys are engaged in some shape of online learning. Spending 40h every week in front of my work computer, I haven't really felt like blogging, but I have posted some of my pictures on Instagram - about time I catch up on my March and my April goals here!

Not entirely surprising with everything else that was going on, I did not complete all my March goals, and some of them moved into April. For the first time in history (I think) I can say I achieved all my goals!

MetroringsGhost quilt the melon shapes incl. feathers (9 in total) - COMPLETED IN APRIL

Patchworkcity: Sew first couple of rows together to check on size, then add next row - DONE

After consulting IG friends, I settled on 3 1/2" wide sashing
This shot was to check the quilt will be large enough for my bed :)
Rainbow at Sea: Finish the orange blocks, then cut fabric for the yellow blocks - COMPLETED IN APRIL
Officially half-way!
This project is dragging along, but seeing the blocks laid out on my bed in this picture will keep me going :)

Linedried: Piece Section 3 blocks, then Section 4 blocks - DONE

I will wait until I have all blocks pieced before I put the sections together. For the smallest star blocks, I will substitute every second one with a 3" square - who would want to match all those teeny-tiny points?
Section 3
Section 4
Summer Sampler 2017: Piece blocks for weeks 1 & 2, then week 3 - DONE
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3 - my favourite block yet.
Venus: Continue as leader / ender project -  CONTINUING
This started from a project Suz had shared with me on IG, I cut out a gazillion curved shapes and pinned them to a flat sheet. Hubby has stepped on pins that poke out the sheet, pieces have lost their place, I have pieced the wrong blocks together - but when I see it come together, slowly, leader-ender style, the issues seem insignificant :) I won't rush it, but I look forward to the finished top (baby quilt size) which I will quilt to death eventually.
We are officially halfway!
Sparkler: My March goal was to piece another 4 blocks, but I ended up finishing it at 12 blocks and gifting it to a young couple at work who have now had their first baby girl, so this is DONE.

There is some pink ;) 
I hope they get lots of use out of this :)
I liked the pattern enough to start a mini version with just 1 1/2" wide strips; for a change I am using black as the background with a jumble of scraps. We will see where this goes:

Celebration: SID around the 'in between' blocks, then around the outside blocks - COMPLETED IN APRIL

Generous on a double bed
I laid it out on one of my sons' bed to check size on a double bed; it sits nicely with plenty of overhang, just the way I like it. After seeing it there, youngest DS has now claimed this for himself; he would have been happy with no further quilting on it at all, but once I showed him a few examples of custom quilting, I am now allowed to do some more on it :)

That leaves me to commit to my May goals:
Metrorings: Quilt 20 of the diamond shapes on the white background
Patchworkcity: Add row 4
Rainbow at Sea: Piece approx. half of the yellow blocks
Linedried: Piece section 4A
Summer Sampler 2017: Piece weeks 4 & 5
Venus: Continue (leader/ender)
Mini Sparkler: Complete another 4 blocks
Celebration: Design part / all of the ruler quilting, then trial one area / section

To quote our Prime Minister "stay safe and be kind!"

Happy Sewing!