Monday, June 30, 2008

Reading On A Monday

In our house, we read books. My husband piles them like stalactites beside our bed. I stash one in my bag as I run out the door. Little e sits, making concentration noises and turns pages.

A few years ago, in the interests of making space, I needed to reduce the number of books I had. I decided that I would only keep what I could unreservedly recommend. No more “Well, you can borrow it, it's a good book but I didn't like...”

I'd love to share a list of books I can't live without. The list would go on and on as I remember "just one more". For fear of writing a school book report, if the house were on fire and I had to grab a book for each of us, here's what I'd save.

For Him – The Things They Carried

For me – The English Patient

For Little e – The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Things They Carried was the first book the my dearest recommended to me that I actually read. Not wanting to sound like a dust cover, but it really is a poignant depiction of a young generation finding themselves in another's war. (For years I confused Poignant and pungent, understandable really, but couldn't work out why the diary of Ann Frank was supposed to stink).

The English Patient was my Herodotus. I would clutch it throughout university and consult it whenever I was love lorn. No situation was ever as bad as being alone in the cave of swimmers waiting for help. This book might be a bit hard to find in the rush of a fire, however, as my dearest has packed it up somewhere that I can't locate.

The Hungry Caterpillar won't be hard to find at all. Little e has two copies now – one board book for reading herself and a “Two Person Book” paperback for bedtime stories.

You can't start them on good books too young as far as I'm concerned.

Note: I have heard that there is fabric that goes with this book and I would snap it up in an instant were I able to find it here. I'm watching Lily Boot's sampler with interest too.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Star Block 8 - Almost There

I am still going on the quilt along with only a few stars left. I was waiting until star 9, but sometimes I'm just a little impatient.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Always Time For Cupcakes

I had an excuse to make real cupcakes over the weekend. These opportunities don't come along often so I grabbed it with both hands. Blemgorf had some beautiful panda cupcakes a while back so I just had to try them. So here goes...

I don't often get time to make real cupcakes. Though, I do use my silicon cupcake moulds a lot. They spend most of there time in the freezer holding & moulding baby food. It's also nice to know that there is always something cool in there to chew on for sore little gum.

I got excited about cupcakes last year. Patty cases were hard to find here so I bought everyone that caught my eye. I get a excited about the decorating rather than the recipe as no recipe has been able to match the Edmonds Cookbook one. When I confessed to a friend that I now have 7 different cases, she told me it was OK. If it's a hobby you can have as much as you like. I'm clinging to this as I justify my various stashes.

It's OK, It's a hobby. .

Edit: I have just found out about a cupcake swap over at Rachael Rabbit. The timing is very co-incidental and I'm really looking forward to it. Thinking up non-edible cupcake recipes already.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I Am NOT Nesting – I'm Always Like This

This time last year I had a list as long as my arm of things to do. The list had been revised, cut and added to a number of times. However, the last thing always remained the same – have baby.

I was 9 months pregnant and we had moved into our house only 10 days earlier. There were boxes everywhere. I was just beginning to adjust to not being at work and saw each day as having an infinite capacity for fitting things in. The midwife even obliged by saying she thought this one would be late. There was a lot to get done before this baby arrived.

So this time last year I had a few things to get done and I was busy. I baked 40 chocolate chip cookies, unpacked some boxes, sewed the binding onto the grandmothers fan quilt and pieced the small checkered boarder on this round robin.

The quilting group I belong to in Wellington had been working on the round robin quilts for about a month. We each had 4 weeks to add a boarder and pass each piece on.

I didn't think I would be making it to the next meeting and really didn't want to let the side down so I had to make it to quilting. The small problem being, I didn't live in Wellington any more. In fact, Wellington was now over and hour away with a rather large hill in the way – the infamous RIMUTAKAS.

My parents were very accommodating and only let me go to Wellington on the condition that I went with my brother and stayed the night at my Aunt's. My husband was not too impressed but saw that I was being my usual stubborn self and let me go.

So, I made it to quilting, took some of the aforementioned cookies to share and had a great evening.

As I was leaving a friend commented that you know you are due to have a baby when the nesting urge kicks in. Apparently she got rather irrational, accused her husband of some dire things only to be told by him that she was nesting. When she went into labour a few hours later, she had to concede.

I smugly thought to myself “I am not nesting, I'm always like this.”

You can see where this is going.

At 1am I woke feeling a little odd. After returning from the bathroom, texted my brother, who was at his girlfriend's place, to get him to pick me up. I texted my dearest to say I was heading home.

Darling brother hastily picked me up, after telling his girlfriend that I was a little home sick and started to drive me home. I optimistically thought of all the midwife had told me. You know it can be up to 2 days after the first signs before giving birth. Make that 8 hours in my case.

That trip over the Rimutakas would have to be the eeriest drive ever. From the foot of the first set of hills there was not a car to be seen in any direction. When asked if I was ok and if there were any contractions, I had to say no all the while staring at the clock and counting the minutes between them.

I was dropped home and a few hours later took off to the hospital.

I can't remember many of the details, but distinctly recall my dearest eating the last of the cookies while in the final stages of labor at 8am, later that morning.

If you had asked me that day, I can only say I was glad I was prepared.

If you asked me today, I might, just maybe, admit I was nesting. And of course I would have to add

Happy First Birthday Little E.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Thinking About Sewing Room

I wasn't supposed to have a sewing room, but now my sewing room has a couch. When we replaced the carpet with lino, it was to let a little someone or two eat, paint or play with water there. Now that the couch is there I had to sort some stuff out again.

At the time we moved in, little e was nowhere near mobile and I needed to unpack my sewing machine for sanity's sake. Gradually, I took over.

The room was finally unpacked properly when we had relatives come to stay some six months later. Sorting it out was a mammoth task, ending with only one box of WISPs and a vow to get some finished. I dread the sorting out because some projects I'm “just not that into”, some give me a guilt trip (a wedding quilt that is 2 years over due) and some I still have good intentions for, really.

Last weekend as I started on the mammoth task again, I was left wondering what was going on. Yes, I have finished some stuff this year but, there are still 11 projects to finish in the box. I'm not sure if the star quilt along counts, because that is laid flat in a drawer somewhere else.

Anyway, now there is a couch too. It sits across the windows and looks out to the garden. For all the frustration of clearing out and tidying up, it sure feels nice to sit in the sun and think about sewing.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Seventh Star

It's New Year here. We are about to cross the shortest day, in a few days, Matariki is beginning to rise in the sky at the dawn and it is time to plant.

Matariki is the Maori name for Pleiades, or known as “The Seven Sisters” in Greek mythology. There are slight regional variations as to when the exact new year is (what phase of the moon etc.) but is generally recognized as a time to begin the agricultural year. I'm impressed that this constellation has such a universal significance. It appears most star gazing culture have name for it be it Subaru in Japan (yes, the car, look closely at the logo) or Kilimia in Eastern Africa.

It seems only fitting to show the seventh star block in the seeing stars quilt.

To celebrate the new year, some Kiwiana Fabric will be winging it's way to SweetP , 20 Cent Mixture and Ikkinlala soon.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Still Quilting Along

I will sew something else soon. I promise. I spent a good part of Saturday morning picking out fabrics for a jelly roll. In the end I came up with 27 fabrics for the class I'm enrolled for in 3 weeks. I can't wait.

For now, block 6 is done. My dearest is getting used to coming home and finding random quilt blocks sitting on the sideboard where the sun used to be.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Seven Stitches Giveaway

A while back I mentioned that I would explain the name someday. For now I'm getting the ball rolling with a giveaway. I have fat quarters (x2) of Nutex Kiwiana fabrics for two lucky winners. All you have to do is give me 2 other names for the Seven Stitches Sisters.

The closest fabric shows New Zealand flora and the distant one, Tuku tuku and kete weaving patterns.

Sometime around Tuesday night, I will be using a high tech random number generator, if I can work it out. Otherwise, you will have to be content with comments taped to coloured blocks and little e picking the tastiest two.

Introducing Greentown

It appears that my hometown has been renamed Greentown for the next month. I can't complain when it comes with come with care packages like this. Inside are some Living Nature Samples, eco light bulbs, Mela Apple Juice and some fancy detergent.

(yes I did notice the irony of the bare trees)

There is a green loyalty card too. By collecting 10 eco stamps you go into a draw. I managed to get my first one today by getting out my library books and another by using the community store. How cool is that?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Star Block 5 - Tutorial for Modified block

This weeks block at the star quilt along is a bit of a curly one and so I made it twice. Once the hard way and then with a few modifications.

Amanda Jean's instructions include a number of bias seams (There are some tips for these at the end of the tutorial) and the end result is a block where every piece is set with the grain parallel to the finished edges. It is all very proper. After reading through, I thought I had found an easier way to do it. The end result has some of the pieces set at a diagonal so I left it for later. I started by following Amanda Jean's instructions and came up with the block above.

Then I tried it another way and came up with the one below. I needed to make a 12 1/2" star for a friend's quilt using sweet pea colours, hence the muted shades.

Instructions For Modified Block

The modified block is built up with 4 conventional quick pieced flying geese (pink), 4 square flying geese (mauve) and a diamond in the square (purple).


From the background cut
  • One square 7 1/4" (cut on diagonal twice)
  • One square 7" (finger press into 4 squares, do not cut yet)
  • One square 5 1/2" (finger press into 4 triangle, do not cut yet)
  • One square 3 1/2"

From the co-ordinating colours cut
  • Eight 3" squares (shown here as 4 pink, 4 mauve)
  • One 4 1/4" square (cunt on the diagonal twice)

  1. Finger press the 3 1/2" background square into 4 squares. Use these lines to align the purple triangles when sewing the diamond in a square. Sew opposing sides and press. Repeat with remaining 2 sides.

  2. Rule one diagonal line on the back of each 3" square, from corner to corner. Sew pink flying geese using four 3" squares and the 5 1/2" square and these instructions.

  3. Make up the square flying geese using the 7" square and four 3" squares. First, finger press the 7" square into 4 squares. Bring outside edges to the centre to create 2 more vertical creases. Using the finger-press lines as a guide, line up one of the mauve squares on the 7" square - match the inked line with the horizontal crease, and the upper & lower points with the vertical crease at the quarter point. Then follow with the second mauve square.

  4. Sew 1/4" on either side of the inked lines. Cut along inked line and press.

  5. Place a mauve square on each pieced in step 4, as shown below. Sew 1/4" one each side of the inked line. Cut along the inked line and press.

  6. You will now have all the units shown in the photo below. Sew the block together, starting with mauve flying geese to pink flying geese. Sew background triangles to either side of the top right and bottom left flying geese chains. Sew remaining units to either side of the diamond in a square. Sew all three pieces together.

Tips for Bias Seams

Fabric has more stretch in the bias direction so you need to take care not to distort pieces as you piece them.
  • Reduce pressure on the sewing foot to reduce distortion from the feed dogs.
  • If sewing bias edge to non bias edge, put the non bias piece on the bottom to reduce feed dog distortion.
  • Press carefully with either vertical action, or running across the seam. Running the iron along the seam can distort.
  • Where possible sew from the narrower end of a triangle to the wider end. This reduces stretching along the seam.
I hope this helps. The block is challenging but well worth trying.