At the beginning of 2017 the friendship quilt group I belong to decided to do a challenge quilt for the year… in the theme of Tree of Life… the rules were pretty basic… no larger… More
Welcome to 2018… it is a bit late, but that in-between Christmas and New Year period where you don’t know what day it is or what you are meant to be doing with your life stayed with me for something of an extended period of time. The fog seems to be lifting and I know know it is Sunday, and I really should be writing.
2018 ended up being a bit of a strange year. I seemed to have a bit going on, but I also didn’t. I have managed to keep up with some of the quilting things I had going on (this afternoon I plan to do the last of my Bee Block commitments for 2017); I have also almost finished the top for Sarah Fielke’s Down the Rabbit Hole block of the month (coming soon to a post near you). I have a couple of other things in the works as well, but for the most part – that is it.
I had one last finish for 2017, a large pillow cover for a 12 year old Star Wars/Soccer fanatic in my life, I did some “forced improv” after accidentally putting a hole in it. Post coming soon.
Back in January 2017, I made some goals and assigned a word (nurture); this has had some mixed success…
I decided that this year I was going to have something of a focus on my health. In the middle of the year I was diagnosed as Celiac – which has helped me enormously. I am feeling better in many ways and have sorted out many of the physical challenges I had been having (I was also flu free though winter which was something of a minor miracle). The latter stages of the year have also seen me taper off and stop taking my anti-anxiety and depression medication (completely with doctor support; don’t ever do that on your own). My brain is finally settling down, and other than a bit of a challenge trying to rein in my emotions from time to time (who knew advertisements could be so emotionally charged) I am doing okay.
My PhD continues, and I suspect that this year it is going to have to take more of a front seat in my world. I delivered my introductory seminar in September, and am currently trying to get my head in the theory game. I won’t bore you with this here – but it is progressing and I am still enjoying the topic (International Education).
Quilting happened. I have set myself a two year cycle for quilting goals (mostly due to my inability to make anything small). I am at the half way point and am on track. My quilting focus for 2018 is to make some utility quilts – you know, ones which aren’t covered in intricate appliqué that you panic about the cat throwing up on. I would also like to lift my free motion quilting game. The two goals are linked.
I haven’t decided on a 2018 word or focus yet – but I have given myself until Chinese New Year to sort that one out 😉
I had a teacup.
A few years ago I bought the same style of cup, but in different colours, for a close group of friends. We had been through some ups and downs together – nutty parents, relationship breakdowns, work stresses. But I thought that we would always have tea (or whatever beverage happened to find its way into the cups – gin… vodka… champagne…) and be together, regardless of where we physically were. And then mine made a noise that is quite distinctive, fine bone china hitting a hard floor, a kind of pop and then scatter as the parts of it all went over the sewing space floor. I had moved some border fabric and knocked it off the cutting table. Fortunately at that moment it was empty so there wasn’t also the mess of liquid to deal with.
In the aftermath of this I have been on the search for a new cup. I thought I found the perfect one on the weekend in Sydney, but that cup turned out to be the perfect cup for someone else, not for me. It was a William Morris Strawberry Thief print in red, the perfect cup for my favourite Bear. So I will keep looking for a cup of my own.
What I suppose this lengthy narrative about the cup and the search for its replacement is all about is how we sometimes need to be patient for the right thing to come along for us. I am not getting all mumbo jumbo about ‘putting the request out to the universe and waiting for the response’ (not that kind of girl), but rather not just grabbing the first thing that comes along to replace what it was that I have lost. I do have a gap in my life for an appropriate teacup (very meta), but it is one which will need to take me though hours of reading and writing, planning and drawing, designing and building.
Or it could just be a broken teacup that I need to replace.
Putting this into the context of my theme of the year (nurture), I am finding that I am being a bit more deliberate with what I am doing. I am heading back to planning my week, identifying what needs to be done now and what I have coming up. I am planning my holidays, I am planning to take about six weeks off from the paid job, but then spend some time doing things for the paid job. Such is the life of an academic. Fortunately I am coming to really enjoy the research component of my job, I always seem to be learning something new.
Quilting is also something of a priority. The shop is almost ready to launch (yay!) and I am feeling more confident that I am going to be able to fit all the different elements of my world together in such a way that it isn’t going to kill me/burn me out. I almost need the different elements of my world (quilting, research, writing, planning and creating) as they have something of a symbiotic relationship with each other.
Until next time.
We all have those precious fabrics which we aren’t sure we should ever cut into. For me the holiest of the holy fabrics has been my very small collection of Hello Kitty Liberty of London prints. Collected from an Etsy shop in South Korea, I went in search of them after the death of my bestest of friends died. She loved Hello Kitty, absolutely adored her (I am reliably informed that she had a Christmas tree which was completely Hello Kitty themed). When I travelled overseas and came across a Hello Kitty shop in Hawaii – I think I finally understood the fascination she had with the small and happy Kitty.
This year has seen me embark on a new block of the month program with Sarah Fielke, her Down the Rabbit Hole quilt. Those following along on Instagram would have seen my progress. The goal for this quilt has been to use all of the whimsical fabrics I have collected over the years – the Heather Ross, the Cinderberries, the Hello Kitty Liberty – and make something that is bright and welcoming. It will eventually have its place on my bed, but I am also thinking that it will be the first quilt I may enter in a show. We will have to see how it all ends up.
Travelling along with this quilt has been my struggle to stay happy and positive. I am physically better than I have been in a long while (thanks to the diagnosis of Celiac Disease and the resulting dietary change), and I have managed to – so far – avoid the flu which has been doing the rounds this year, something which I consider a minor miracle to be honest. While on the surface things seem to be going well, underneath I am kind of struggling. But I will be okay. As ever the rabbit is being chased, this time by the cat.
Using the bright and sunshine colours has been going along with this quilt, but I have also made the conscious effort to include some of the grey and dark along with it – when the whole things is revealed it will be a mixture of things. The light, the dark, and the grey. Because the world is this mixture. We can’t have light all the time, you need something to show its highlight; to contrast. The trick is having the right balance of colours to make the quilt work as a whole.
It is midwinter in my little corner of the world, and this coming weekend we are taking the younglings to the snow.
Being in Australia doesn’t make you immune from the popular imagery of different times of the year, and how things should be. Take winter for example. The youngest of the younglings wants to make a snowman this weekend – so we need a carrot and some stones. It is, finally, the time of year that some of the Christmas carols make sense (or they would if it were Christmas – don’t think we are doing Christmas in July this year). Although I really could get behind snow and cold during our Christmas celebrations which happen in the middle of the Australian summer (not fun for me). There is a part of me which wonders what it would be like to have snow on the ground, and be snowed in and not be able to go anywhere… we had a day like that once. A “black snow” day where we had to stay home because there had been a fire at a chemical plant and there was toxic smoke near where I worked and the kids went to school. But it wasn’t really the same to be honest.
Now this is a (sometimes) quilting blog, and sometimes I really do quilt. Like the past few days I have been actually sewing, keeping up with the bee blocks, working on the Steam Punk quilt and a few other things… actually I think it may be time for a bit of a “what am I working on now” roundup and posting.
You may have noticed that I have given up putting the month in the title of the post – I am doing this for strategic and I don’t want to feel guilty about it reasons. I had managed to keep things going for the start of the month post, recapping on what had happened in the month previously. But when I didn’t meet this goal, I felt like I was something like a failure – and honestly there are other things I can be feeling like I am a failure about which would be more productive than that. So I am giving myself a break.
The year long mission to look after myself a bit better is stumbling along. I mentioned in the post about the Sydney quilt show (thanks to those who reached out after that, I too was glad – yet disappointed – that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way)… I mentioned that I had been diagnosed as Celiac (hello to my sister who I forgot to call and tell who read it on my blog… sorry), well I have been “clean” for about two weeks now and there are some changes. It is actually a bit easier to be gluten free when you just can’t have it. It isn’t a lifestyle choice or a preference, it is my reality. I just hope that I can continue to have milk as well because it may actually kill me to give up milk and cheese.
Having said that – I am not a fan of GF bread. Not. At. All.
This morning I returned from what has become the annual pilgrimage to Sydney to the NSW Quilt Show. This year held back in the middle of Sydney at the newly reopened International Convention Centre. My feeling about the show are mixed. While I mostly enjoyed the day, there were a few things which I really didn’t like, and one thing in particular which has left me with a bit of an odd feeling about it all.
The quilts. Awesome work from the quilters, the best in show was a favourite (and for the first time ever I saw them before the judging and liked the best in show before knowing it was). I have to note that I didn’t get a chance to look around them all and take photos of the ones I wanted to see again and up close (more on that in a moment).
The range of make and take classes, particularly for beginners. While I have to admit to not partaking in them this year – half of the party I was with did. Both beginners in the overall scheme of things, there was a range of things which were really well suited to them and they both enjoyed having the opportunity to participate in something that they wouldn’t always have the opportunity to do.
The friends. It was a great day out with those near and quilty. Many laughs were had, and we are – even though there is bad and ugly – planning on making the trip again next year.
The lighting in the quilt show. Really, for something that is so visual there needed to be more done to improve the lighting on the quilts. This was particularly obvious as the lighting at last year’s venue on Glebe Island was so good and allowed for better viewing of the quilts. I do understand that this isn’t always as easily said than done, but I wasn’t the only one commenting about this, and it is something that is actually able to be fixed.
The overall feel of the venue. This is a hard one to explain. The shopping side of things seemed to be very cramped. I was there on Thursday, and I hate to think what it was like on the weekend.
The food options… I was diagnosed as celiac on Wednesday morning (it has been quite a week), so I was taking close notice of these things. There were an extremely limited number of options for me (well for future me, tomorrow is the big day).
When it comes to this bit, this is what has left me feeling a little odd about the quilt fair. I have not really engaged with the whole gender in quilting debate – not because I don’t have an opinion, but more because me getting all ranty about the role of men in quilting or the “place” of men in quilting isn’t really something I have ever wanted to do. I have always been more interested in the tension within the quilting movement about the “modern” v “traditional” quilters (having decided I don’t really belong in either and prefer to label myself a quilter). Gender bias in quilting has raised its sometimes ugly head and I never thought I would see the day where I would see the need to say what I am about to say. But apparently I now have something to say about it. I have tried to be fair about the behaviour and have asked another who was there to read the below to make sure I was fair in my description, but I have been around some quilters to be a bit more cranky about what happened than he was.
Attending this show, his first, was my partner. He decided to do a class, to learn something new and start on his own creative path – I think the end goal is to create clothing and costumes for cosplay. He wasn’t expecting there to be other men, he was very prepared for that and didn’t see it as an issue.
So if perchance you are one of the women who were, I hope, trying to be welcoming to him by going into the class area and patting him on the shoulder saying “well done you”; or one of the ladies very loudly pointing to him and saying “look, it’s a man”… your (I hope) well meaning commentary and support didn’t really help. You have all been beginners before, and those breaks in concentration did not help at all (particularly as he had also forgotten his glasses).
I also hope that the “it’s a man” commentary isn’t the same sentiment as I have heard in quilt shops when a man enters and the women ask him to leave. Because that is not okay and I think we are a bit beyond that now. As someone who is in the beginning stages of opening my own quilt store, I really hope that this sentiment is something that doesn’t make an appearance – because that is an attitude that needs to be relegated to the past.
Kids are funny little creatures… take the Youngling, a small red-headed child who loves tomatoes and strawberries. We went on an adventure so that he could climb into a helicopter and pretend to be flying through the jungle (something he really seemed to enjoy), and along the way I picked up an acorn. I was assured by the Youngling that I needed to be careful, because if I had an acorn then it would attract squirrels, and that was something to be avoided.
It didn’t seem to matter that we don’t have squirrels here in Australia, well not in the same way that he has seen them on television, because he was sure that if I bought the acorn home we would be overrun with the little creatures. Of course the cat would love that for slightly different reasons. I am pretty sure that he has decided that I am not a human and just terrible at being a cat.
The last month I have continued to do my 100 days of crafting, although I am not posting it on Instagram as much as I possibly should. I don’t think I have sewn this much in a long time – not just quilts (I am working on a new one for me) – but also my own designs, something I have been wanting to do for a very long time.
It seems like everything is coming together in a way that I have been working for it to. Funny how that happens.
Meanwhile, I shall wait for my squirrel.
This particular finish has been done for a while – but now is the time for me to actually talk about it.
When we start a quilt, we generally start out with a reason or purpose. I started this quilt at a time that I had a bit of stress going on, and I wanted to see some actual progress with something. Also, because of the nature of this particular quilt, I knew it would be a challenge. The design is by Crystal over at Raspberry Spool, and it challenged every fibre of my OCD being.
There are two perfect points in the quilt, and only I know where they are, I had to challenge myself to make the rest perfectly imperfect. I completed the top as part of a quilt-a-long and then slowly set about the task of hand quilting it.
I used pearl 8 cotton, in my usual style of large stitch quilting. A method I like as it hides my tired stitches and happens rather quickly.
The binding was the only fabric purchase I made for the quilt, using all of the precious fabrics I had in the stash, and batting I had bought years ago in thoughts of making a king sized quilt (who was I kidding), so I have cut into it as well.
So there we are. An actual finish. Something that is big enough to snuggle under – just in time for winter.
So. I think I am going to give this thing a shot. The 100 Day Project. Check out the hashtag #the100dayproject for details, but what I am going to try is 100 days of creating. Each day for the next 100 I am going to try and create – be that sewing or knitting or something else – so this is my commitment to myself.
Something I have been trying to do for the past month or two, is to create something every day. Now there have only been a couple of times that I have been a little creative as to what “within the day” looks like…
Picture if you will me on the couch at about 1.30am knitting and listening to the sound of rain on my phone…
Mother… why aren’t you in bed asleep?
Well child (who for the record is 22), I am trying to make sure that I am creating something everyday.
But Mother, I need your help with my uni assessment tomorrow and I want you in peak shape for that.
You get the picture.
So starting in April (the 4th – yesterday in my timezone) I am going to be doing The 100 Day Project. Now if you click on the embedded link that was just back there, it will take you to the Instagram tag for the project. People from all across the world are doing all sorts of habits, creative things and generally focusing on something for 100 days. I am going to be interested to see how productive this makes my creating.
I am working on a few different things at the moment, having finished a quilt I feel that it is my responsibility to start at least another two new ones. Between these and participating in my first ever quilting bee, I actually have things that I am interested in doing and finishing.
What I would really like to get out of this, is proof to myself that if I prioritise something, it actually does happen and it doesn’t have to happen at the cost of my other great companion – my PhD.
Well, hopefully I can get to blogging about something else before May, but the guilt I have over not writing in this space as much as I would like is something I am just going to have to deal with – or write more – my choice.
Somewhere between the my baby turning 21, teaching ramping up for the semester and life, I have been managing to do lots of sewing and knitting. I have finished a quilt which is big enough to snuggle under (post to come) and embarked on two new quilts. Isn’t that the way it goes – finish one and start two? I have also knitted a beanie… for me.
My goal of sticking to nurture has taken a bit of a beating these past few weeks, and with two weeks(ish) to go in the month perhaps it is time to try and turn that around a little.
Shall report back in a bit and let you know how that is going.