A trip to the show, and something to say

A bright and sunny morning in Sydney

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 Good

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 Bad

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).

The Ugly

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.

I am waiting for my squirrel – Welcome to May

The offending Acorn

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.

A finish – Modern Medallion Quilt

My completed Modern Medallion Quilt

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.

Time for tea – welcome to April

 

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.

March – the busiest of months

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.

 

February, feeling the heat

The month isn’t as young as it was, but I have been busy.

I brought in the new month in Eden on the south coast of New South Wales (known as the Sapphire Coast), looking at the Killer Whale Museum, and traveling down a very long and dusty road to check out one of the local lighthouses (and we all know I love lighthouses). Leaving Canberra in the middle of a summer heatwave (it was 42 degrees Celsius = 106 Fahrenheit), dropping to about half that for the time we were on the coast. It was “cold” and it felt so good.

Taking the time off from work was something that needed to happen. In theory this was supposed to be the gap between finishing one job and starting the next, but that isn’t quite the way things happened (for the last week I have been doing almost three jobs, this week I am going to be scaling back to two). I am in transition, and it is going to take time.

My theme for the year (nurture) has been in my mind, as I grapple with how to manage this. So January ended up being about gathering the data, ready to make the changes which will need to happen. I am a bit of a pincushion to be honest. I have also been reading books (well a book) which has nothing to do with my research… hard to do when I feel guilty for not reading for the thesis. And don’t get me started  on writing.

FAL2016 – Q4 Finishes (or not)

Here we go… the round up… the list was…

  1. Modern Medallion
  2. Winter is Coming
  3. All of the Fandoms Steampunk Quilt
  4. Happiness Is
  5. Yoga Shawl
  6. Pink quilt thing (now the Pink and Grey HST quilt)
  7. Gail Pan Christmas mini quilt

And the finishes were…. *insert drum roll*

The Yoga Shawl… just in time for summer.

The post telling its story is here.

See you all next quarter for the next installment…

January, how lovely to see you

2016 is now behind us all. It is time for new eyes and a bit of a (dare I say it) fresh approach.

2017 – at this early stage – holds promise. New job, new outlook and the beginning of something approaching normality. My PhD is progressing (slowly), I am back to designing some blocks for English Paper Piecing and applique, and I have something of a renewed interest in getting healthy.

I have finally realised that if I want to be able to do “all the things” then I am going to need to be a bit more selective in my approach to food and exercise. A few years ago I was diagnosed with the early stages of Hashimotos Disease, so my thyroid has gone on strike indefinitely. I have had some success with a gluten free approach, but I find it so hard to maintain – even though I do feel so much better when I don’t have it. But now I am faced with a choice. I can’t continue to do all the things I want to do, and continue down the path I am on. Things have to change, it is as simple as that.

I need to remember that trying to do your PhD with a foggy brain isn’t fun. Forgetting things isn’t charming all the time, it is annoying and frustrating. Not being able to walk properly because your hips are sore (something that happens if I eat gluten), only gets in the way of being able to get up and move about. If I want to be able to enjoy my life in the longer term, then there needs to be some changes, and they need to happen now.

Which brings me to my theme for the year.

In the past I have looked at different foci for the year – the year of less drama and the year of getting shit done were highlights. Last year was all about taking back some sense of control for myself – which I think I largely accomplished. This year is all about looking after myself.

I thought about different words or themes which would assist with this…

Deliberate in terms of being more thoughtful in my approach to things and thinking before acting – particularly with the little things – which then led me to mindful, which I then promptly abandoned because of reasons.

In the end I have decided on nurture – because really, that is what I need to do for myself. I need to nurture my health, my creativity, my research, my family and my community.

I think the signs for this have been there for a while. My garden has been cleared up and things have been planted (some of them have even survived the snails). I am being more thoughtful in my quilting, I am not longer signing up for things on a whim and then being cranky at myself for not keeping up, participating or adding to the whole.

My quilting goals are now being set for a two year period…

  1. To do something specifically to enter in a show, and
  2. To make a quilt which is challenging, yet “fun”, and completely for me.

I have other quilting goals, but for the moment this will do.

Welcome 2017, it is time to nurture.

2016 – How did we do?

Back at the beginning of the year (for the record I am talking about 2016), I reflected on my 2015 year and set myself the challenge of working toward something new. Each year for the past few I haven’t so much had a word in mind, and a theme – 2016 was this part of Invictus.

This year has been a challenge, while there have been a lot of things going on globally which have been really hard to understand (Brexit and the US election), personally there have been some good and some downright ugly parts to the year.

The good:

I have finished this year with a renewed sense of who it is that I am, I am working towards goals which I am really happy with and I feel that I have a real sense of control over. My day job is getting bigger, but it is also aligning more with who I am, rather than just being the mechanism to pay the bills and pay for the fabric. This wouldn’t have happened without some struggle, and I don’t think that I would believe or trust the changes unless they did. I am a firm believer that, for me, I need to work for things, they don’t just happen and fall into my lap.

The bad:

This has been a year of saying goodbye. I lost two of my best friends, one through choice, the other through death. I have written about Niki and the complete devastating loss that came from that, Christmas was something she loved, possibly more that anyone I know and I smiled when I put the decoration she made for me a few years ago on the tree this year. I haven’t quite worked out what I am going to do without her yet, but I suppose I will have to.

As for the other, sometimes people aren’t who you think they are. That is their choice, and it is mine to walk away.

Quilting:

This year I managed to finish mini-quilts and some other smaller things, nothing large in size however, I am so close on my Modern Medallion quilt I have chosen out the binding I want to use and calculated how much of it I will need. Should be finished by the end of January (assuming I can get enough time to finish hand quilting the thing in this stupid heat of summer). I tried some new things this year, but I am thinking a different focus for next year will see some changes in approach to quilting.

As I write this (December 31, 2016), I haven’t decided on a new theme for next year, but long time followers to my decision to choose a theme know that I give myself until the Chinese New Year to officially decide it – which is at the end of January this year, so I still have time.

I hope that 2016 was okay for you, or at the very least you can find some personal joy among the overall suckiness of the year.

If 2016 was a movie…