Thursday, 25 June 2020

No scrap left behind

Right down to the wire is customary practice for me now, but this time I can barely see the wire in my rear-view mirror.  Literally every last piece is being utilised and I'm drafting in any extra bits and bobs that catch my eye too.  Blocks I tried and rejected are now a shoo-in for this quilt.  In fact, anything goes if it fills a bit more space.

Here are a few examples: this one has much bigger triangles from the mucky green fabric with the little rows of sprouts.  It's the one thing I still have a lot of, as it was only going into the black hst blocks.  

You can also see triangles pieced from two fabrics...
 here's another one of those...
I have lots of little hourglasses, as a consequence of cutting without reference to a ruler or any form of measurement.  I'm making them bigger, like this one
 or using them in groups, like here.
I'm rather enjoying the challenge.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Coming up for air

I have been sewing.  In tiny moments, here and there.  It doesn't ever feel like much at the time, but I think that when I add it all up it does amount to something.

This is where I am up to with the hourglasses.
It doesn't look like school will be going back before September, so my aim now is to establish a routine that covers all the other stuff but builds in more coherent sewing time.  Sometimes I take this out of the box and can't really recall what I thought I would do next.  That was okay for a while but now it starts to irritate me.  Let's see if I can do better.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Next steps?

Having finished a long central column - or at least a long column I'm currently thinking will be in the centre - I am now trying to figure out what next.  

I have a few wonkier rectangles...
or I could keep going with my squares but set them so that you see the diamonds...

or I could use more of my little black blocks.  Maybe not quite like this, which seems a bit over the top to my eye, but something along these lines.

 Or, final option, is that maybe I throw the kitchen sink at it and include bits of all these ideas.  Now there's a thought to wrestle with.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

A little self-knowledge

Having come up with one chunk of hourglasses that I liked, I did the obvious thing and made another.  Easy progress, you might think, and you would be right.  I could just have kept making chunks and then sewed them all together and hey presto, that would have been my quilt finished.  It was tempting but then I had a bit of a word with myself about my short attention span.  In all likelihood, I would get bored way before I had enough bits to make a whole quilt.  I've tried it before and it just hasn't worked, so best just to admit it now.

Also I still had one or two fabrics from my initial pull that felt like they belonged in this.
So I played around with borders, wondering if I might make this into a medallion, but it didn't quite work how I would have wanted.  Next step would be to chop into them, but I like to have more of an idea than that before I over-commit.  Smaller hourglasses?  Squares? In the end I decided to make just a few wee units and see if I liked them.
Hmm, these I think I can do something with.
Now I have my two chunks, with a little row of hsts between them.  That will do for now.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Time slips away...

...is what I am calling this quilt (with a nod of thanks to Mr Springsteen).  It's a name that seems appropriate on all sorts of levels at the moment.

I am managing to sneak in my bits and pieces of sewing time, just enough to keep my hand in and stop my head from exploding.  All I need to do now is the blogging bit, which I am determined to hold on to.  I apologise now to everyone who has waited ages for a response to their comments and also to everyone whose blog I would normally visit  - I will be back on track soon; just one humungous piece of real life work to get over and done and things should be back on a more even keel.

I am still hourglassing and after playing around with various layouts came up with this little block, which I liked a lot.
Then my machine started acting up.  Since it's an old one there aren't many things that can go wrong and in this case it was just the wiring in the bit that plugs the foot pedal into the machine.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that in taking it apart I managed to drop the worlds tiniest nut (and in nuts and bolts) onto the carpet.  Could we find it?  Oh no, not a hope.

Not to be discouraged I pulled this pretty little thing out of its case.
It's a funny thing - a Singer clone with Arabic script, which I bought, to be perfectly honest, because it was a lovely yellow colour (the case is the same shade as the base).  Not the swankiest machine in the world but it does a fair stitch and is seeing me through.

Detour over, I made a few more blocks and joined them together.  Now I have this.
I notice now that I have one deliberate pinwheel in here, but one has happened without any help from me too.  I love it when that sort of thing happens.

Keep well, everyone, and keep sewing.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Precious little sewing

Locked down, like most of the world, it seems.  Ah, my foolish dreams of sewing, reading, wafting around the house thinking deep thoughts and learning fifteen new languages before lunch.  In fact (of course) I am feeding more people, more of the time, clearing and cleaning more (not my forte but even I have my standards) and spending quite a lot of time supervising school work.  Sewing, not so much.  

I am grateful, though, that so far we are all healthy and hopeful that I may eventually find a rhythm that allows for use of a sewing machine and/or needle and thread.  

In the meantime, just before this all started, I did a bit of sewing that I haven't had a chance to blog.

Sadly these are mostly pictures of that phase at the beginning of a quilt when, basically, I am still a bit stuck and am making bits in the hope that light will dawn.  

I made some hourglasses - different shapes and sizes.
Then I went away, thought about it and decided that, for now at least, I didn't want to go down that route, which felt a bit predictable.  So, second start involved lots of hourglass the same size (I use the term lightly, since they are not being measured, just eyeballed).
 Once I had a few, I could play around a bit...
 or this?
Nearly, but not quite.  Still, it feels like I am groping towards something that will satisfy me.

Maybe I will start getting up half an hour earlier, or going to bed half an hour later, and carve out some time that way.


Wednesday, 18 March 2020

What I found in my boxes

I'm sitting here waiting to hear if our schools are going to be closed and wondering whether this blooming virus is going to result in extra sewing time or less.  I guess I'll know fairly soon.  

I have been rooting about and found quite a lot of fabrics that I think might go with my three shirts.  In a perfect world I would probably go out and look for another shirt, but this time I'm going to go with what I have. Probably one or two of these won't make it into the final quilt and probably I'll have to go away at some point and find something extra.  But for now, this will do.
I don't have any clear ideas, beyond hourglasses, so I'm going to make a few blocks to get myself started and wait for something to occur to me.  


Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Moving swiftly on

Actually, it's more like moving on after another week of procrastinating about my hand quilting, but that's another story.  

Back to the beginning I go and this time rooting around in my shirt box turned up these three.
The nice plaid on the left means that as well as yellow, purple, white and that lovely petrol blue I could search out greens, blue, grey/black, pink-y red.  That seems like enough possibilities to send me off to see what there is in my stash.

I know this will be an hourglass quilt of some variety (since that's the current AHIQ theme) but more than that I can't yet guess. 

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

And just like that...

This one is done (if only my quilting was progressing in a similar fashion).  I ran out of virtually all my original fabrics and the, to continue the theme, of most of my replacements, though to be fair they were only very small scraps.  If I had more I might have made this just a tiny bit bigger, but I haven't, so I'm calling it a finish.  And I'm fine with that, because I like this a lot.
Sadly I still can't get a really good photo that shows the fabrics off, but this is the best I could manage.  Maybe once it's quilted I'll do some close-ups.  

The hourglasses in this are a nod to the latest AHIQ challenge, though I am going to do something more hourglass-y next, or that's the plan.  In the meantime, though, on with the quilting.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Not even scraps now

This is officially the closest I've ever come to running out of fabric completely.  Of the fabrics I started with I am out of all but three (the light brown with a white spot, the grey/brown with the animals and flower design and the cream background with different coloured spots).  I am also down to the very last scraps of the black and white stripe.  Not even scraps left to piece of anything else, though I have a handful of strip sets still to use.

As you can see from this photo, I still have a way to go (I'm aiming to cover that last tile on the right).
Luckily all the times when I have run short before have provided good practice and I am not panicking. 

I had already added one floral into the mix and though I am reluctant to cut into any more yardage I have had a good rummage through my scraps and come up with these.
At the moment the yellow and the smaller check have not been pressed into use but the other three have.

This is the one area I've worked on that includes all the new additions.
It won't be a seamless transition, but I feel happy that the new bits sit happily enough with the feel of what I have already and should, just, be enough to see me home.  I am piecing much more carefully now, so thinking about what I need next and making for a specific space rather than putting together strip sets in advance and then playing around with them.  

Slightly optimistically I had set myself the aim of finishing this before the end of the month, but it will be done not too far into March.

A brief update on the hand quilting seems overdue too.  I am still quilting (or not) my second lighthouses.  I'm not sure why I'm not feeling the love for this as I work on it - I still like the piecing but am so not into quilting it.  However, and in my own defence, I did quilt a whole lego quilt in two months over December and January, so progress is being made one way or another.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Two more columns and bad weather

It seems like this quilt is being made two columns at a time.  That seems to be the most I have managed before running out of a) time or b) fabric.  Here's the current progress.
To get to a width I am happy with I need to cover one more floor tile, which I reckon will probably take four, possibly five, more columns.  In the normal scheme of things this would mean a finished top by the end of next week, since this week is fully occupied, but we shall see.

Currently we are more preoccupied with the weather than anything else.  We live about as close to a river as is possible - I've left the blurry edge of the window in so that you can get an idea.
We are in no danger of flooding, thankfully, so watching the river do its thing is fascinating but not scary.  To give you an idea of how high the water has been, the picture below is of the weir.  There should be seven steps but only the sill is visible, to the right.  Beyond our river is a canal, and then everything else that is under water is field.  This is the highest it has been in years.
Of course it's much worse elsewhere, but it is a reminder of how extreme weather is becoming.  

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Bringing on the substitute

My fabric boxes and my ongoing project are currently not in the same place so I rooted through the boxes, pulled out what felt like they might be good options and then crossed my fingers that they would still look good when I put them with the top.
I have gone with the lower fabric, partly because I like the little touches of red and the way they echo the red already in the quilt.
 I am easing my way from the previous floral to this one by using my last scraps to piece coins that contain both fabrics - you can see a couple in the bottom right corner.  
It's entirely possible that I will need to find one more new fabric for this, though I'm hoping I might just scrape a finish without that bother.  I'll know next time.

Friday, 7 February 2020

Considering my options.

Slowly this gets bigger.  Rather more quickly my pile of fabrics is getting smaller, which is causing me a few dilemmas.

When I started today, this is what was laid out on the floor:
Currently it's only about 30" wide, so I've got a fair way to go.  I finished off the next strips on the right and then pressed on.
I don't know if you can see all the tiny little pink bits, straightening me up, but they are pleasing me greatly.  

The layout below is not at all under consideration, but when I was packing up I laid out all the strip sets I have made, to see how far short they fall of what I will need.  Quite a way is the answer.  

Initially I thought I would eke out the floral bits - sprinkle them here and there in such a way that they got me all the way over the the far side.  Unfortunately trying to do that left me mired down in a world of brown and grey, which wasn't where I wanted to be at all.  So I am going to use them as if there were an infinite supply until they are gone and then think about next steps.
I might try and find something similar.: a light floral or pink/yellow print of some kind.  Alternatively I can use the fabrics I do still have plenty of and let things get darker and moodier.  In the meantime, while I wait for inspiration,  I'll keep piecing together every last tiny bit I've got.

Monday, 3 February 2020

The sound of a coin dropping

Do you ever have those days when you feel like you've made lots of progress until you look at the photos?  I often do.  Sometimes there's a job that takes ages (in this case sewing on a new column) but at the end things look almost the same as when the pieces were just laid out on the floor.  Ho hum.  On the bright side, I have done one more very long, very bendy seam and let me tell you, that feels like an achievement.  
And yes, I know that the next one is going to be even bendier but strangely I'm quite looking forward to it.

Of course that's not all I have done; I've been plugging away at the top right too.  I tried lots of versions that didn't quite float my boat then had a moment of clarity.  When I started I was taking two sets of strips with one fabric in common, using the black to get them to the same width, then working with those longer units.  For some reason I had stopped doing that and was tinkering away with the individual, much shorter sets of coins.  No wonder I didn't feel like I was getting the same sense of flow.  As soon as the coin dropped (!) I went back to making the longer bits and things got easier.  

This is where I ended up (though as per the previous conversation, I may forget half of this when I get it out again.
And finally, as I get closer to the wire, here are the three fabrics of which I have the least left (the tiles are 13" squares).

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Very long, very skinny

I am chugging slowly along, notwithstanding the challenges I have set myself.  Piecing together my very long, very skinny coin sets, with all their bends and kinks is definitely requiring me to concentrate. That pink fabric whose job it is to fill in all the little gaps is going to have its work cut out. 

I have used most of the coin sets I put together at the start, so now I'm putting together more as I go along.  Quite a few fabrics are already running short, but I am much more sanguine about this than I used to be - one way or another my quilts always get finished.  Interestingly I have much less of the lovely multi-coloured stripe than I thought; I have realised this is because it was a short sleeved shirt - that extra bit of sleeve from the elbow down must yield a lot of fabric.  

Working away at the top right hand side here.
Just slapping bits down and shuffling them around to see what clicks.

Eventually I got to this.
I started sewing some parts of this arrangement together but lost track a bit.  One of the problems with my way of working is that sometimes I pick something up and then can't remember where it came from.  In those moments I just give up and start figuring it out again from scratch.  But some of this will definitely be there next time you see it. And some, you may have gathered, most probably won't.  

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Removing the lens cap is always a good idea

I did quite a lot of sewing earlier this week and took a few photos as I went along.  Unfortunately I didn't remove my lens cap at any point in the day so when I came to blog on Wednesday all I had was a collection of black rectangles which, lets face it, aren't going to enlighten anybody.  Yesterday I got the whole piece out of the box, laid it all out on the floor, took photos and then put it all back without sewing a stitch.  Needs must, but I have to say that just didn't feel right at all!

Right or wrong, though, this is where I am up to.  I have been working on three areas at the same time: bottom left, bottom of the next block over and top right.  I don't think it will get much longer but I'm probably only half way across.
Remember that long pink strip that I took out earlier?  That fabric is going back in but in much smaller bits.  Like the black strips, which I'm adding when I want to join two similar coloured strip sets of different widths, this has a specific job: I'm using it to straighten things up when a strip set is particularly curvy, like this:
 or this.
Once again, the combination of camera angle and winter light/flash seems to do the fabrics in this a disservice.  In the top picture a lot of things that have pattern read as solids to my eye whereas in fact there are only two solids in the whole thing.  Never mind - when I get to the stage where it's on the washing line for photos I know these things will be easier to see.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

What remains

Two things are now gone, as promised in my previous post.  One is the long pink strip to which I gave serious consideration. In the end I decided that it wasn't adding anything, so out it goes.  In fact I like the way the black and pink checked pieces sit up against each other much better without it interrupting.

The other thing that went was a little piece at the bottom of the left-hand side, where I had added two horizontal rows.  Off they came - this piece seems to be working better if I stick with the vertical, although changing directions worked well for me in my last Coins quilt.  

This is the current state of play.
Cutting freehand produces strips with a lot of curve in them, so at some point that pink may be to go back in to help straighten things out but for now I'm just sewing together smaller sections and not worrying overmuch about the technicalities of construction.  

I seem to have gone over the course of about a week from groping around looking for answers to having a pretty clear idea of what I think I'm doing.  This feels good, though I'm not taking anything for granted - next week I may well be stumped again.  

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Some things to keep, some to remove

Yesterday I thought I was going to take the little chunk I had pieced and work out from it in one direction or another.  But I couldn't come up with something I liked so I decided just to work on a completely different bit and worry later about how they went together.
 As it happens I think they sit quite nicely next to each other.
At least two things in this photo will be gone when you see these bits again though.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

What happened in 2019?

Well, something rather strange.  I fell out of love with the internet.  It started with a conscious decision to be more focused in how I used it and to reclaim some of the time that used to leach away from me: you know how it is - you come to blog, then you check other people's blogs, then you look at some new ones, then you follow a chain of thought...What I hadn't anticipated was that the less I was here, the less I wanted to be.  I still used the computer for work, but lost all urge to turn it on for anything else - I even did my Christmas shopping in real shops this year and I don't remember the last time that happened.  

Reflecting on this in a conversation this week I think that there is a danger of throwing out the baby with the bath water, so I am making a proper effort to put some time back to blogs - both my own and other people's.   My plan is to allocate little time slots, like I would with work tasks - get the post written, the visits made and then turn off the computer again, no aimless wandering;  I rather like the extra time I have clawed back.  It's a new way of doing things for me, so who knows if it will work, but if not I'll just keep tweaking until I find a new rhythm.  

In the meantime, I have been through all sorts of theories with regards to the latest piecing - I have added in and then removed several sets of fabric, tried pinwheels, tried hourglasses, tried standing on my head and looking at it sideways.  This is what it looked like yesterday.  Just a little chunk, but it's one I'm happy with.

In a nod to Ann's first AHIQ prompt for this year I shall definitely be including more hourglass blocks.  Apart from that resolution I am still groping my way in the dark, but maybe there's a tiny light at the end of this particular tunnel now.