Saturday, 19 February 2011


There's some progress to report on the tidying of the workroom, and quite a bit of progress on the orphan blocks quilt top. I now have twelve 12in blocks:
Looking good, isn't it? I'm amazed at how quickly they go together! I've started with the awkward sizes, 7 1/2in blocks and so on, and they are much quicker to make into 12in blocks than I'd ever imagined. I'm only working on them in the evenings, when I watch TV (not that often) and occasionally during the day. I still have a pile of 4in and 3in blocks to play with, as well as a number of the 6in blocks I pieced from 1 1/2in Half-Square Triangle units. You can see one of those in the bottom left hand corner. I added slightly oversize pink sashing triangles to two of them, to make them 8 1/2in finished, and then added the pieced border to this one. I am generally making them in pairs, so there is some continuity between the blocks. They'll probably have sashing between the blocks in the end.

The real challenge has been to keep it interesting. I got bored with piecing sashing for the 7 1/2in Nine Patches (top left and elsewhere) but I still have some of those blocks to use. I have a lot of different sized Log Cabin blocks too. Some may become a border, just as they are, but the odd-shaped ones need something to be added to them. Unless I get too bored.

I've cut out a couple more of the blue and white Bear's Paw blocks, for when that time comes! That's an old UFO, dating from 1998. The original blocks were a friendship swap from a group of quilters who were library staff at Kuring-gai Library, back when I was Turramurra Librarian. I think I received five or six in the swap and I've gradually made more over the years, so I now have 15, 14in blocks. It will be a quilt one day, and a lovely reminder of some very good people. Wonder how many more I need to make? I guess I should decide how big I want that quilt to be!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Summer mindless activity

As I mentioned in my last post, summer is not a good time for me. This summer, my usual slothfulness has been exacerbated by my ongoing attempt to tidy and sort my workroom. I'm determined to jettison all that Stuff we collect, that isn't really what we like to do. I am not a polymer clay person, and I probably won't ever play with that material again, so why do I have a whole half shelf of a cupboard devoted to polymer clay materials? It might seem like good sense; if I ever do want to do things with polymer clay, I'll have everything I need. But what if I can't work efficiently at the things I like to do, because there just isn't space to put everything away neatly at the end, so I can work on something else? Keeping stuff I don't use becomes a whole lot like hoarding, doesn't it? I have friends who can use that Stuff, so it's going to leave my house.

Obviously, while my workroom is in turmoil and every surface is covered with Stuff, I can't really spend much time painting fabric or sewing on the machine. (Or even walking on the floor of the room).

So I did my annual audit of orphan blocks. Every quilter has them, I'm sure. Well, OK, there are those rare people who know exactly how many blocks they need for their quilt, and in exactly what colours they should be, and that's what they make, and every block is perfect. But I am not that sort of person. I start out making blocks and maybe one just isn't quite right. Then there's the times when, after mindlessly making a large number of blocks over many months, I suddenly think to count how many it is I actually need for the size of quilt I want to make and, oh dear, I seem to have a few extra. I've reflected on this phenomenon and it really dates from the time when I stopped making patterns out of quilting magazines and books, and started just choosing a block, deciding on the size and look I want, and simply starting. Most of the quilts I make these days use lots of different fabrics, even if it's in a limited colourway, because that's the look I like.

There's a sort of pattern emerging here, about disorganisation and a general lack of structure, that is completely at odds with my true character. No, honestly... I mean it. Truly...

Usually, my pattern with the orphans is to take them out of their carefully-sized packets, admire them, decide they are too good to toss or give away, think that none of them speak nicely enough to one another to be put together in a quilt for life, and put them back away again. But because this coincides with the whole ruthless-cleaning-of-studio thing, I tried a whole other approach. I took everything out of the carefully ordered-in-size envelopes, and put them into colourways. A red-blue-green-ivory colourway here, an autumn tones one there, some kiddy brights, a cream/beige-blue-pink colourway, a pretty floral one, and so on. I grabbed my boxes of different-sized half square triangle units and sorted them in the same way. And the leader-ender boxes. And, goodness me, I have enough orphans and their friends to make several quilts. Honestly, who'da thunk?

So I've decided the time has come. I've picked the largest packet - the red-blue-green-ivory one - and here's what I have. (I didn't bother to lay out all the 1 1/2in half square triangle units - life is just too short!) The blocks in the top left hand corner are 12in finished. I also have these half-square triangles from the leader-ender boxes, which aren't going to get sewn any time soon, since I can't reach the sewing machine.
I'm gradually hand piecing everything up to 6in or 12in units. I know I could assemble a quilt with the blocks as they are, by adding appropriate filler units as I go, but whenever I try to do that, I lose interest quickly. I have to think about that, and lay things out on the design wall (in the impossible studio) and rearrange them and think some more. That's all too hard and back it would go into the Orphan Blocks drawer. But working out how much to add to a bunch of 7 1/2in-finished blocks, to make then 12in- finished blocks - that I can do, in my current mindless state. Once I have a whole lot of 12in and 6in blocks, I will think about adding sashing, since that helps to give scrappy quilts some coherency. Baby steps, all the way. Did I mention I'm not big on planning out quilts, every step of the way?

Already, I've made these 12in and 6in finished blocks.
The 12in blocks are from the 7 1/2in ones you can see in the original photo, and the 6in are from 3in-finished four patches and the 1 1/2in HSTs I didn't bother to photograph. Actually, I've made a few more of the 12in blocks, but today has not been an ideal day for photography.

I've pulled out a few blocks and units from the pile with lights that are a bit too beige, and tossed them into the other cream-beige packet. I don't much care if some things don't get used - these are free quilt blocks, so to speak; I've already done the work on them. I also don't really care how far I get with this project before I have a tidy workroom or get bored with it. Whatever I do now makes this closer to a quilt, and that can't be bad! 

Isn't this fun?

Friday, 4 February 2011

Not very creative!

Not much happening in my textile life lately. January never is a peak time for me, creatively. I have been piecing quilt blocks but the interminable job of restructuring my workroom continues. I have made a lot of space, and have more things to toss and rearrange, which should allow me to work more efficiently in the space. Well, that's the plan! If only people wouldn't keep wanting to sleep in my spare bed, so loose stuff gets put back into the workroom again.

Still, it's February now, so I hope to get some more creativity flowing!