Sunday 25 November 2012

Ducks on the pond

I was home at the farm on the weekend to see our canola crop come in. 
Harvest is always a frenetic time, with machinery and trucks thundering every which way, keen to get the grain in before any rain can gather.
I spend the time anxiously pacing, trying to distract myself in the garden, my heart in my mouth as I wait in anticipation for the first indication of yield to come in ...
... waiting for an indication of whether we've done our money, broken even or perhaps even cracked a profit!
I climbed up into the header cab and did a few runs with the contractor. This is always an education! The header driver divided his time between talking to me, with very careful politeness, about the subtleties and nuances of controlling a GPS driven harvester, and raucously yarning to his mates over the 2-way as they fly past in their trucks, laden with grain on the way to the silos in town.
At one point, he uttered nervously to his mate on the 2-way, "Ducks on the pond, mate, I gotta a duck on the pond"! Now most Aussie farm girls will know exactly what that means. This is code among country men that there is a woman present and that all foul language should be moderated immediately! It is a particularly common warning when women walk onto the board of a shearing shed. Funny! I'd love to know if this is a habit peculiar to Australia, or whether there are similar expressions in other rural communities around the world. I suspect it is unique to foul-mouthed Aussies!
The verdict on the crop? It yielded better than expected, but we won't be retiring to Noosa on it!
In other news, being at the farm allowed me to spread a new quilt out and take some photos.
I had serious fun making this up, and have a second one to put together using girly flannels from Marally Craft.
More details to come when it returns from 'she-who-works-quilting-miracles', Belinda :)

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Hither and thither

hither and thither, adv. in various directions, esp. in a disorganized way. e.g. Bloom is running hither and thither, from one project to another, as her brain races ahead of her fingers.
I have been working with felt, lots of fiddly cutting with small scissors, but it will surely be worth it. 
The design is a table centre by Mandy Shaw of Dandelion Designs and is from Australian Homespun #109. It reminds me of scherenschnitte, a form of German paper cutting which I love.
Progress on the hexagons is slow but steady.
My 'local', Marally Craft, generously sent me home last week with fabric panels and coordinates to play with: 'Animal Party Too' by Amy Schimler for Robert Kaufman ...
... And 'Pretty Paisley' flannels by Lesley Grainger for Robert Kaufman. I am planning a new pattern that might make use of all those cute panels that I have stashed in the cupboard over the years! So I have plenty to keep me off the streets :) Hope you too can find some time for creative pursuits this week.

Thursday 1 November 2012

Adventures of a paper-piecing novice

My heartfelt thanks to everyone for your thoughtful and supportive messages on my last post. Olivia continues in pure, unbroken, glorious good health and happiness. I am touched that so many of you sensed and shared my palpable relief and wonder that she is again well. I am still breathing in the peace and relief ... in enormous, deep gulps!

And so, this week I picked up needle and thread again, to revisit my Little Hexagon Purse. This is my first serious attempt at paper piecing, and I thought I'd pass on some things I've learned.

The finished hexies have 1/2" sides - I know, what was I thinking?! For the majority of fabrics, I trace around an acrylic template with a pencil and cut out the hexagon with scissors.

For fabrics pleading to be fussy cut, I made a 'window' template from light cardboard, and use this for tracing the shape onto the fabric.

I am using Sue Daley's method to temporarily glue the fabric hexagons to purchased hexagon papers. When I'm feeling diligent, I use a Sewline glue pen specifically developed for fabric. When I can't find the Sewline, I just use an ordinary old glue stick. Both achieve the same end.

After experimenting with various threads, silk and cotton of different weights and colours, I have settled with using this Aurifil 50 weight in a neutral beige (#2314). The colour blends sufficiently across the fabrics I'm using, and the thread is fine enough to sink nicely into the seams.

After stitching the hexies together, the papers are supposed to 'pop' out quickly and easily from the back of the work. I have obviously been too heavy-handed with the glue as there's no way my papers are 'popping' anywhere! I solved this dilemma by moistening the seams (on the back of the panel) using a small, soft paintbrush dipped in water. This diluted/softened the glue enough that I could quickly remove the papers. 

This purse is for my eldest daughter. It was supposed to be finished for a School Ball a week ago. Knowing full well that I was not going to get all those teeny tiny hexies pieced in time, I offered to make up a quick, 'one fabric only' substitute. 

This offer was duly accepted by said 17-year-old on the proviso that the 'real' hexie purse be completed by Christmas :) Deal!
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