Does the number of blocks needed increase overnight?

July 9, 2020

I was really hoping to post a positve post last night about finishing a quilt top. I had an itch Sunday to get something done so I picked a boxed project that was close and got to work. I was missing the instructions so I had to work out how to finish the blocks, which I did, and completed a few blocks. Next day I did the same, and Tuesday and yesterday. I swear the number of partial blocks that need completing hasn’t gone down. I can only assume they breed overnight. Maybe I need to separate them at night to prevent any amourous liasons. I hope I am not the only one who has this issue. Where you feel you are making good progress yet the end never seems to get any closer. It has now become a battle, I WILL finish these blocks this time. I am going to keep pushing it until it gives in. I have no idea how long this may take though. One I have the blocks done and on I need to try and make a border from not enough fabric. I have a few thoughts on how I might do that, but nothing definate. Maybe while I battle the blocks I will find inspiration.

While setting up for the class on Monday we discussed what people have been doing in lockdown. I am intrested to hear that people mostly seem to have done less than they would have expected, me included. It is amazing how much being told to stay at home throws people. It sounds like this will be time to really indulge in all our hobbies, but the evidence is that didn’t happen. I can understand why, there has actualy been a lot distracting our brains, but I do think we need to start getting back to things we love. It is becoming clear there isn’t a quick fix for the bigger issues, but we can start to get back the things we love. I know I don’t feel as creative as usual yet, but perhaps doing some of the more mundane quilts will help me get back into the swing. I know the Monday quilt has been good for keeping my design and planning muscles active but I would like to get my more obsessive motivation back. I suspect it will be one of those do it till it comes things.

I also thought it was interesting how many of us have been playing with food. Not being able to shop normally or eat out has made us much more creative in the kitchen. Hmm, is that where my quilt creativity has gone.  We have found new recipes and fixes for things we can’t get, and we have enjoyed it. Yesterday I made a very different for me chicken casserole. I had bought a jar of creamy chicken casserole sauce from a local butcher just befrre lockdown. I wanted a few quick and easy meals for days when I wasn’t up for long cooking sessions. Well as a bit of a gamble it paid off, it was amazing. That was great, but the farm shop wasn’t delivering that so I couldn’t get any more. The only option was to try and make it, and after a lot of thought I decided to give it a try. It was more effort than just opening a jar, but not terrible and if I make batches and put them in jars myself that would solve that issue. I do forsee me learning to preseve and can (in jars) more products. The attempt was successful enough that Tet didn’t realise I had made it, not usually a compliment but when you are trying to replicate a purchased item it is a win. Even better I misjudged the quantity of sauce needed, so today we have a nice thick creamy chicken soup for lunch. on a cool dreary day that sounds great. To go with the soup we clearly need some bread, which seems to be the other big change in a lot of peoples lives. I now make nearly all our bread and now I have a routine it really doesn’t take a lot of time. We like our bread and it means I eat wholemeal bread. I am not normally a fan of wholemeal but I like mine so we will continue with that. I really hope the pattern I am seeing in the people I talk to is repeated accross the population. I would love to think people are redicovering skills that had almost been lost and certainly have been under rated for a very long time. Being able to turn what you have into some sort of tasty meal is not only a valubale skill, it’s really satifying. I wonder if it also helps your brain. If crosswords and suduko do then why not kitchen problem solving. Or indeed any of the make do and mend kinda things. I rather hope these new activities carry on, I suspect bussinesses won’t be so keen, but maybe we will gain businesses that support people having skills to do things for themselves. What do you think? Am I optimistic or deluded on this?

New era looking good

July 7, 2020

Well I survived, and the so did the students. I think everyone learned something, if only thati have finally found a way to sit all my students on my cutting table. It was a very information dense class but most of the students were about to see well what I was showing them. We did discover two connections that were not performing as they should. I predict a couple of unhappy ISPs. Something I hadn’t thought about was background noise. I have taught in some pretty noisy environments but that is one set of background noise for everyone, with everyone at home we get a set of background noise from each house. It was quite distracting, so in future we will get students to mute when they are not actively speaking for technique classes. For the more general weekly classes I think it will just be a matter of learning mike discipline. If you know you are doing something noisy muting. I guess this is something people who do group video calls have already explored but I have always worked text only.

I do like that the feel of my classes was coming through. I was worried we might lose that, people don’t always behave the same with cameras, but I think people are getting more comfortable with them now. I really think this will work, for teaching and for the social aspects. It was clear that just being able to see other quilters did help, as does bouncing ideas of others. My sewing space isn’t perfectly set for doing video classes. I need to find a way to set my foot controler set up. Trying to use the hand start stop drove me crazy and I really don’t have full control. The camera shuffling worked fairly well. I would love to find a way to see what the camera sees in my thumbnail not the mirror image. I find it very hard to navigate as is, but still we managed.

My provisional plan is to try and set up some sessions for my regular students over the summer. I will also be looking to put on more technique and day classes online. I am thinking of ways to help those with poor connections and those where their sewing machine is not near their computer. I am really pleased with our first steps and I will be looking at ways to make this bigger better easier and more fun. Bear with me, this is all new and will take a little while to really get right.

Monday Mystery Solo Robin

July 6, 2020

Sorry we are a little bit later this morning. The puppy is getting into his morning cuddles, and as it is his most relaxed time and lets him practice being cuddled without nibbling. I also forgot to make bread yesterday but that is now on a proving. It odd, bread making used to seem a bit of a faff, now it is just a regular part of life. I can’t actually see us going back to using a lot of comercial bread. I will say the plastic square loaf is the best thing for a toasted cheese sandwich though. So we will alway have ocasional bread from shops. Sadly really good bread flour is now rare but middling flour still makes pretty good bread.

This morning I need to finish preparing for this afternoons class. I am really looking forward to it. I have had friends in my pocket for years, it will be nice to have my students sitting on the cutting table with me, which could only ever work virtually. There isn’t the space to do it in person.

I guess we should get on to our doom for the week :) Erm inspiration that’s what I meant. Don’t forget there is a Tuesday discusson group we do still have space for a couple more people. Comment below if you want to come along. Our technique this week is,

use scraps

Ooooh, that is perfect for me I want to finish off my first quilt with this week and my curves are using soome scraps. This is absolutely what I want for my outer border. Of course I would now like it to be a decent size. Border size this week will be,

add 5″ to two opposite sides of your quilt

Hmm, well OK. middling but I think I can make it work. I would have liked more though. I don’t think I can really complain that is pretty good for me. In fact whatever I got it would have needed me to use scraps, though now I suppose I have no guidance on how to use them. Ahh well mixed blessing and the group will probably have some thoughts on it.

New normal

July 4, 2020

I have been planning, shifting furniture plotting and preparing. Online teaching isn’t a natural fit for me, but then again teaching at all isn’t. I always said it was one of the jobs I would never do, along with public speaking. I now do both so I am hoping I can adapt to online as well. Hating cameras and the sound of my own voice recorded is going to be tricky but I have some ways around that, and I finally have a webcam. Oddly tech companies were as unprepared for this as the rest of us, so kit is in very short supply. The Tuesday group has given me, and the students a chance to feel out this new environment and so far it is going pretty well. We are getting back the feel of my regular classes, and yes that does mean tangents and side learning no one planned. Given that is what makes my classes mine, I am thrilled.

On the back of that we are having a technique class this Monday at 3pm BST on curved piecing. It was prompted by the Monday quilt this week and this being a new or under used skill for most. So I will be covering three techniques and hopefully answering some questions about curved piecing. We still have a couple of places if you would like to join us on google meet.

Thanks to some friends helping me test camera angles and visibility I think I have a teaching space that will work. Trying to film yourself from 3 angles with one camera is trickier than I  considered. I have a new found respect for Youtubers, especially those making and doing, rather than just talking to the camera. I have found that it is much more relaxed for me to be showing what I am doing than having me fill the frame though, that’s a real incentive for me to demonstrate more.

I am hoping as we go along we can get to the point where students will feel comfortable showing their work and their issues. I want to get back to much more interactive sessions, and the skills we learn online will help us once we get back to physical classes. It sounds like we will need distancing for quite some time, and being together virtually gets us doing that. We learn to teach and be taught at a greater distance. I can’t reposition you or your tools, I HAVE to find a verbal way to get you where you need to be. I suspect it will mean that more often I grab props and show people what I mean, but I will be getting used to using my props not others tools. I don’t know how this new normal will shake out, but as we have it I for one want to see what we can do with it. One plus side is people who can’t attend physical classes can now join us. That alone is valuable and possibly a lot of fun.

Tomorrow I hope to get some sewing done, but we will see. I may sew something completely different downstairs to save me moving my room about again. I guess I will decide tomorrow.

Some fun notebooks

July 2, 2020

I love notebooks. I mean really really love them. I do most of my planning in notebooks and there is nothing better than a new one. It seems the internet has noticed this little issue I have and one day directed me to a review of the best 5 notebooks. Well I can’t not read an article like that. It turned out I already use two of the ones they covered, but I had not see their top choice before. Grids and guides.

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They had me at the name, the rest of the review was just gravy. They reviewed the one with the beige cover but when I went searching for them I found a black cover, which of course I needed. I wasn’t sure if they had the same content and pages so I took a chance and bought both. I am really glad I did, and I suspect at some point I will buy the red and blue covers too. The wrapper is a clue, the beige has colour information pages and the black has black and white illustrations. They also have slightly differnt pages.

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These are the grids in the beige covered book. I think these have a lot of potential for playing with quilt designs. I tend to use gridded paper anyway but I love having this variety of grids.they offer so many options and I think having the prompt to think beyond the normal squares will be a big bonus for me. I also love the slightly random information pages. Useful, I don’t know, fun and good for the mind absolutely. It feels a bit like someone has used pages from an encyclopedia as book marks and you just stumble upon them. I really like them.

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These are the pages for the notebook with the black cover. I guess I will use the page that has the table for cutting information, the other pages have fun design options again. I am especially pleased with the circular grid. That is one of the most time consuming to draw and least likely to find in a notebook. I have so many ideas now. The irregular grids make me think of tartan and optical illusions. The isometeric will be great for hexagon style things, oh like say my next Monday quilt.

All in all I am very pleased with these notebooks. The paper feels nice. It’s not the thickest I have but it is pretty good. I will report back if I have any issues with bleeding. As I said I think I will at some point buy the others in the range just to get the whole set of page layouts. The way they stimulate my imagination makes them very good value for me. I think they would also be good just for colouring or doodling. I am sorry if I have just led you astray too, but this was just too fun to keep to myself.

Something really different

July 1, 2020

I was so hoping the Monday mystery solo robin would encourage people to try something new. That people would take the ideas and really play with them. When I started explaining it to people I realised the starting piece didn’t need to be square or even rectangular, but was anyone brave enough to try it. Well, Rachel who made the other quilt I shared has started her second, and this one isn’t any friend of square.

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This is after 5 weeks I think. There are the stars around the fussy cut starting block. The traditional, folded and modern making up the next ring. Finally we have the squares. The next part will be the curved piecing.

As you can see you really can start with differnt shaped blocks. It does make for some interesting design options as you go along. If it does get too much at some point you can always make the piece square then carry on. Having seen this I am even more tempted to start my next one with a hexagon. I feel there are so many things I could do from there and it should be easy to make into a rectangle when needed. Having discussed this we think more sides requires a slightly more lenient view of the sides descriptions. Having 2 sides I think rather than just 2 opposite sides it is fair to do 4, and the same with adjacent ones. Not quite sure how that will work with 6 sides, but I guess I will figure it out as I go along.

If you haven’t started please do feel free to jump in at any point. You don’t need to start at the beginning, the parts are random so any order starting anywhere will be fine. This is supposed to be a fun challenge Do a bit when you can, dip in and out as the mood takes you. It really doesn’t matter if you miss some or indeed go back and pick extras if you have a really productive week. This is just an excuse to learn new things and explore new ideas. Really just thinking about the options or drawing the designs will be useful. It gets you thinking about new design ideas and how to make them. If you do take part and would like to share some photographs we would really love to see what else is being made. No two of these quilts will even be similar, and it is such fun to watch them evolve.

Monday mystery solo robin

June 29, 2020

As if Monday mornings weren’t hard enough, two cats and a dog have told me to go back to bed. I am resisting their very sound suggestion though to bring you the next instructions for the quilt. I have to admit another hour or two in bed does sound a wonderful idea. I think we are all trying to catch up after the heat. No one in this household likes it and I think we all struggle to rest properly when over heated. Now it is cooler sleep seems to be the first order of business. Except I am thinking this is a chance to get back to my sewing room. I need to make us more masks, and I want to work on this quilt. I want to be equipped with masks before we start going out again. It seems like that is something that will start happening soon and I think we need to be prepared. It isn’t the most exciting sewing though.

For now we can focus on fun stuff, this quilt. Last week we found there were actually quite a lot of things we could do with squares in a 2″ border. More than I expected actually. This is what makes classes so much fun and so useful, having more people sparks more ideas. It looks like this week will also give us a lot of scope. This week’s technique is

Curved piecing

Remember all technicalities count. Any curve however gentle is still a curve, and any piecing technique is still piecing. Our Border size this week is

Add 4″ to at least 2 adjacent sides of your quilt.

I am sure the cards are just trying to frustrate me at the moment. I am so close to finishing my quilt but they keep giving me small borders. I am sure that it wil, suddenly spring huge ones on me just as I get close to a useful size. If you would like to join the weekly class that covers designing a border and how to make it we do have space still. We meet at 2.30pm Tuesday’s on google meet. I send out a link for you about 2.15pm each week and if you are on a computer it simply opens in a browser. On mobile devices you will need the Google meet app. If you would like to join in comment here and I will email you details.

 

Rain!!

June 27, 2020

This morning feels a little fresher. There has been rain overnight and the temperature has dropped a couple fo degrees. It’s not as much as I would like but it is still an improvement. I am sure lots of people are loving this but I find the hot weather very difficult. I did take advantage of it thought to wash and dry one of my winter quilts. This one has two layers of warm and natural in which is a thick cotton wadding. It is very heavy and takes a lot of drying. At the start of lockdown I decided it was time to get a new washing line. My old one is really quite old and we decided to leave it at our old house, this house has a metal lines hole for a rotary line so I got one to fit it. It turned out they have come on a bit since the last one I bought and I chose one with a neat trick. My washing line is height adjustable. They say it is so you can hang out your laundry more easily. I think for that it is pretty poor, as raising it once loaded is very awkward. However for what I wanted it for it is fantastic. I wanted to be able to lay a wet quilt.

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This isn’t quite the lowest it will go but it was enough to make it easy for me to lay out a very heavy quilt. I put it face down just in case something dropped onto it and caused a mark I couldn’t remove. It was actually fine and and dried easily in the crazy heat.

I did make a start on the 20 year old quilt. Seems I am quilting it in black, I am not sure I exactly made a decision, it just worked that way. I am quite happy with how it is coming out, though it is very easy to get the wrong pattern in a wedge. That may also be a feature of the tmperature of course.

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There are 50 of these wedges to fill in total, and I plan to continue the pattern the other side of the narrow green border. That will be annoyingly fiddly but I hope it will look good. I wish the photographs would show the texture better. With two layers of wood wadding it is really very sculpted, but capturing that when it is black on black seems to be pretty much impossible. I am hoping to get a bit more done on this today, but if it stays overcast I will see if i can get some jobs done in the garden, especially as the soil might be a bit softer after the rain.

Hotter but successful

June 25, 2020

Today has been really unpleasant heat wise. With the UV warning I tried walking the dog earlier. He declared it too hot and I got sun burned, all before breakfast. He did enjoy cooling down innthe pool when he got home though, and the rest of the day we had to play inside, which he enjoyed and the cats critiqued.

I finished the fun quilt that was on the frame and decided to load another of mine. This one had hung on my sewing room wall for something like 20 years. Maybe a smidge longer. I hand pieced it when I was working my last office job. It feels about time to get it quilted and bound. I think I even know where the binding fabric is. It isn’t a big quilt, about 40″ square, but it also isntnas flat as I wouild like. So my plan is to quilt the background areas quite heavily and use a double wool wadding. I am not quite sure yet how I will quilt it. A couuple of areas have told me what they want the rest hasn’t. I am debating a metallic thread for some of the which in the ditch. I know that can cause issues, but I think with all the colours in this quilt it might blend better than any normal colour. I guess most people would use invisible thread, but I really hate how that catches the light, and to me it’s not much more subtle than the metallic. Alternatively I could use multiple lines of black and have a subtle stained glass look. I will leave the decision for the morning.

Piecing wise not much will happen until we cool down a bit. I do want to try and find my summer quilt, which I can do downstairs. My Monday quilt needs a lot of pressing as I go so that is on hold. I guess I will finally catch up on some of my quilting for now.

Getting back on track, and a little cooked

June 24, 2020

I feel I really shouldn’t be having a problem with the temperature. This house is so much cooler than the old one and my workspace is the coolest place not the hottest, but it is still too hot for me. It is making exercise between very difficult and impossible, still I am trying and I am sure that counts for something. I did spend time playing with the dog ijn the pool earlier which helped. Before you think that is too glamourous I should mention the pool is about 15cm deep and 1.6m in diameter. It is however still coolish water which in this temperature is worthwhile. I even changed it today so not full of bugs.

I also shipped out my first ombre Monday mystery kit. This customer has chosen black to go with the ombre, I think it will be a very striking quilt.

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I took 2 pictures to try and show the range of the ombre. They shade right across the fabric, and I think that will give a lot more variety for this kind of quilt. How big will the quilt finish, I  can’t say. 8m of fabric should be at least a big single and probably a double. It will depend a lot how much applique and how small the pieces are. The 4m of background and 8 half meters of ombre are £96. I will be selling them until I run out.

I have a fun star quilt on the frame, and I think while it is so hot that will be most of my sewing time. My sit down sewing spaces are both too toasty to be much fun. It’s a shame as Tuesday’s class came up with lots of fun ideas for 2″ with squares, but those ideas will just have to wait for now.

Stay as cool as you can and drink plenty of water.