Covers off!

Spring is here, well and truly. The light is magnificent. The covers for the table and seats have come off. It’s warm – the verandah is the centre of the universe again. This week I have used it 3 times for meals and the entire feeling of living here has totally changed.DSCN8315

In the absence of a work bench, I even mounted the quilt layers together on the floor of the verandah… until the light was fading… while some pixies slaved away in the kitchen.DSCN8317 Ready to quilt…

 

Portal to my Soul: Random Rhythms #1

Sorry boss, I didn’t work today. Sorry my loved one, I did not grout the bathroom floor. Sorry kids, I did not make biscuits for the fete tomorrow.

I finished all the blocks for THE QUILT.

Yes. And that’s ok. I was compelled to do it. Why? Well… To be honest (and I love honest blog posts!) I am confused and achieving the completion of this quilt top made me feel sane and un-confused. Looking at it, life makes sense. There are so many demands on all of us (we are parents, workers, children of elderly parents, partners, friends, dependable community members) – and all those demands seem to get the better of me every now and then. NOW. So – here I have something to look at, that in a funny kind of way really represents how I feel.

Random. Rhythms. Light and Dark. Round and Square. Striving towards a routine that makes life predictable and sensible. Frogs/ Giraffes and plain colors… randomly combined… squares singing their own song… DSCN8312

I did go to the gym today (6am!) and found out it’s “R U OK? Day” here in Australia. So, ask the person next to you if they are OK! I would love to know if YOU are OK!!!

I am OK, having completed all those blocks today. Yes, I am definitely OK. My mojo is alive and singing. Sometimes we just have to leave all the responsibilities behind and GO to our mojo… make sure it’s ok.

Best,

Swantje

 

This Dog learns a new Trick!

Yeah.. woof… I do! Given that I have 5 quilts on the go (Sssshhh!) and just started this Bowtie jobbie – I should actually not pfaff about with this quilt, I should not hand stitch anything, right? It has to get done in one smooth breath, if I could only sew all the 70 squares together next weekend! That is within the realm of possibilities, since I cut out all pieces last Sunday.

So what I have learnt (ahem… self taught) is that those centre squares in the Bowtie block can be sewn on the machine after all, and how much faster is that! In addition, you don’t see any stitches on the right side either – and that is hard to achieve even with the neatest hand stitching.

This is how it goes:

  1. make cardboard template and align it with the foot of the machine: it indicates where to start sewing the side seam and how much to leave un-sewn for the centre squareDSCN8307
  2. sew all 4 seams
  3. press open 4 seamsDSCN8308
  4. turn back seams to expose centre squareDSCN8309
  5. pin centre square in place – put pin just through square fabic layer and folded corner fabric layer DSCN8310
  6. at machine: fold block out of the way, sew around centre square sides,  moving from one side to the next, without cutting the thread or lifting the foot of the machine.DSCN8311
  7. press
  8. cut seam allowances

All we need to do now, is add 4 hours to each day to fulfill my creative urges…

While the Cat is away…

… the house is very, very quiet… the only activity seemed to happen at the dining room table…DSCN8305

Patrick, Lena and Jo took off into the bush yesterday morning, in the rain, with hope that it would not rain as much in the Blue Mountains. So with half of our family away, the house seemed empty. Even more so, since Vincent was sick in bed – so Esther and I just took it very easy. We watched her kind of movies, ordered pizza and ate on the sofa and I started something very, very simple on the unused table.DSCN8302

This block is the ‘Bow Tie’, a traditional block which I just love. It is very dynamic, yet so simple. Most patterns recommend that the effect of the middle square is achieved by sewing a little colored triangle on the light colored squares of the block. Like this: Screen shot 2014-09-07 at 9.07.01 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I don’t really like it at all – the middle square is chopped and I think it really interferes with the simplicity of the overall look. And in addition, if the middle square is a real square set diagonally in relation to the big squares – then the diagonal (bias) edges of the big squares are prevented from stretching by the straight grain of the little centre square.

I just ironed the corners of the big squares out of the way, sewed all 4 seams of the block (sewing over the folded corners to hold them back), pressed the seams, pinned the small square in place – BAM… easy:

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And then in the end, you upload a nice movie or two, order some pizza and hand sew the little squares in, before cutting the excess fabric… repeat until sufficient blocks have been sewn and then put it all together.DSCN8304

It’s not like I don’t have enough quilts on the go as it is… I think I am currently working on 3 hexagon quilts, one huge Wedding Ring… but this is quick and easy and gets an instant result… works perfectly as a little creative ‘pick me up’…

 

 

 

On top of the World

I had the privilege to hop in the car with friends and spend a weekend in the snow. I left 4 children behind with my competent husband, who had a cold :(. We had a day at Perisher, two days in Thredbo. Here is a complementary pic from the Perisher photographer. Skiing was awesome before 2.30pm, when the snow turned to yogurt. But Spring skiing is awesome – sun is shining, ski is blue and livin’ is easy…

 

Mental Health Day

A few little nice things happen all the time – the trick is to spot and cherish those! We had an insanely busy weekend… there was no way I was able to fully function in my professional capacity today. I took a mental health day today (re-stocking the fridge, tidy up, visit to the hardware store, masses of laundry processing,…, some knitting…) and reflected on how good things are going right now.

I finally finished my Knitters Guild NSW Achievement Certificate – ages ago, actually. And then I left the stuff at guild and have not been back. Sue gave it to me after sailing yesterday (or was it a fortnight ago?). Anyway, I fell over the bag in the hall today so I thought I might as well show it off before I tidy up! Voila. Some swatches and the sample garment. I started in 2011 and did the entire certificate in a week – bar one last bit of the sleeve. I dug it out 3 months ago and boom – done. I hope the jumper will fit Rowan!    DSCN8278DSCN8279DSCN8277DSCN8275DSCN8276

I started conjuring up a nice new project. In fact I used a good 6m of soft fabric to make one toile after the next on the weekend and now all of them are in the bin and I have settled for something very simple and sleek. Sneaky preview:DSCN8280

And while I was knitting away the (broken) doorbell “rang” (our dogs barking) and there was an angel (Sue) delivering home made strawberry jam, lemon butter and stock! What have I done to deserve this??? Many thanks, Sue, it’s just so sweet of you! DSCN8281

And here are some yarns that Chris picked for the hat he’d like me to knit. I have made so many samples for Fair isle patterns from this yarn – no more now! There will be no yarn left otherwise.DSCN8282

And now the” icing on the cake” type news (ta ta ta taaaaa) – I have been invited for a  weekend in the snow at the end of the month. Just me. With my friends. How very lucky am I…

Proudly Presenting: Celtica

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Very proudly presenting Celtica today! Or should this post be called “Surprised about the merits of Negative Ease”? There is a lot to be said about finally finishing this intricate project. Let me not rant on and on, I put it in bullet points for you:

  • There was the issue of gauge, since I used a different yarn to what was specified in the pattern, this had to be accurate and I re-knitted the skirt (fronts and back in one piece) twice when I found that my version was too small
  • There was the issue of cable placement as I re-knitted this jacket and realized that it would look horrible with 2 half cables from armhole upwards, so I redesigned the cables and added the slim one at the centre front.
  • I knitted the sleeves top down, picking up stitches around the armhole and shaping the fitted sleeve with short rows. I knitted the first sleeve head 5 times, modifying the short row technique, and then I gave up – it is what it is. I love the shape, but since the sleeves use the purl side of the stocking stitch as the right side, there was no neater way to do short rows and knitting stitches together than what I came up with.
  • Buttons: I raided my extensive collection of buttons and found real treasures, but never 7 of one kind! I did not have time to go to the amazing button shop, and part of me resented that idea – having the said button treasure in my shed… so I tried to make buttons… decided none of them were working… and settled for a mixture of suitable buttons – I think it works.
  • The shawl collar is knitted in, as is the button stand – and I finished it all off by knitting a 3 sts i-cord around the entire jacket. Looks smart.
  • Finally – when I did put the jacket on – it was gaping about 2″ at the front. Shock, Horror! This is too small! But no, it’s Negative ease in action. This jacket fits like a glove, caresses me ceaselessly on cold mornings and is made for me.

Here is the button thought experiment in pictures: all sorts of lovely stuff… could I mix and match?DSCN8269

Here is a Dorset Button (right: made at the Knitters Guild some months ago) and one I made following a tutorial on Kate Davis’ blog (left) some time ago:DSCN8270

Then three samples trying to make it work for this particular jacket. But I decided that buttons in the same color would look drab. I did not have any other color that would look good… by this time I realized that any hand made button ought to be in a satin or silk finish.DSCN8268

And voila – a dog thinking I was setting up a photo shoot to show off his new, radical hair cut: “This is a nice and sunny spot for it, Mum!”DSCN8265

“And thanks for using your new jacket for it!”DSCN8266

“Even if you are finished now, I might just continue napping, ok?”DSCN8267

And what else? New ideas are overflowing my brain… a new project has been cast on. Not sure what it will end up being, so I will post something, once I have survived this experimental phase.

Life is certainly good. There is so much going on with 4 kids – it’s great. We all love the dynamics! I must make a photo of what happens in our kitchen in the mornings – lunch box assembly, breakfast orders, sock and school uniform hunts and last minute notes to be signed.

The evenings are no less busy. 4 kids in the study in various stages of doing homework, discussing maths, drama, parliament or history – playing music of any kind. Patrick coming and going to and from band rehearsals of any kind, me forever disappearing to Tai Chi/ Yoga or other classes or P&C meetings. In between countless lot’s of laundry processed (primarily by the children), afternoon teas being produced, consumed and the debris left in the kitchen, dinners produced and washing up piled in the kitchen sink. And whenever I think that now I have a moment peace to do some work or play – another trip to the shops to buy more food!

Patrick has put the window frames into the downstairs room and today the bloke is coming to put the glass in! So that is still ticking along. I have chosen curtain fabric and ought to go and look at it and purchase and sew.

Happy Days.