Time for a Catch Up

June 10, 2010

Thank you friends, for hanging in.

I’m home again with ‘Nurse Betty’ the labrador who is keeping me company as I recover again from a winter malady which hit with vengeance after the excitement and running around at ‘Patchwork’s’  sale .

The enforced being still, now that I’m feeling a bit better, is allowing me to catch up on many  ‘sit still’  jobs and pleasures that I’ve been rushing too much to take the time for. Things like sorting the box of newspaper  recipe clippings, catching up on three years of journals and even ringing friends.

I’ve been doing some extra work at each of my three part-time jobs  and it’s meant that a few things have had to give but it’s encouraging me to be a bit more efficient…perhaps.

Now’s the time for a bit of a rambling catch up post.

Three weeks ago after visiting Mum in South Australia, I rushed out the door and left my hand sewing and knitting (the knitting is another  story which I will return to on another day) behind and they won’t be retrievable for a while. Disaster.

To assemble another kit.. for survival?

My new kit is in the little box (complete with labrador hairs-I really can’t complain about faithful ‘Nurse Betty’).

Thinking about my ‘kit’ came at a good time because I was struggling hand piecing on two different projects.

On the Medallion quilt I have been using a lovely soft piece of Yuwa fabric and equally lovely but very tough and resilient piece of , I think, ‘shabby chic’ fabric.  I’ve washed and tumble dried the fabric but it is still tough to ‘needle’.

The other project is a simple cot quilt with five nine patches of pin wheels and plain blocks ‘flying pin wheels’ I’ve been calling them. They will have four large plain blocks between them.

The project has stalled because after a busy weekend piecing the pin wheels (months ago now)  I developed an alarmingly large bulge, some type of joint inflammation, at the base of my middle finger.

The tough fabric is the blue Kona fabric. I had planned to use the blue fabric for backing as well and to do  hand quilting in the large plain blocks. I just couldn’t see how I would be able  do it if even the piecing was causing trouble. The seams were also much thicker than with the Vancet cottons I’d used previously.

It was very soon after this experience that I was really interested to read this post in Jan’s wonderful blog.  Kona  is a brand I had not previously used, and I’m pretty sure my blue is of the older thicker style!  Should I continue to avoid it for hand piecing projects or was my technique or choice of  tools letting me down? Would it be a choice between  a strong resilient quilt or me? !

Increasingly have become more concerned by the texture  and ‘feel’ of my fabrics when choosing fabrics for hand piecing or hand quilting  projects.  I look for fabrics that  seem of good quality with a lustrous surface and even warp and weft threads, but that are not too thick.

I can’t find the beautiful lustrous  plain dyed Vancet cottons anymore. If anyone knows anywhere these can be sourced I would be forever grateful.
The Lecien plain cottons ‘feel’ and look nearly as  good . The  P&B plains I’m sure are of good quality but  they are a bit tougher (probably stronger and it may be a good thing!) and for me at the moment to be avoided  in 2 layers -they are perfectly fine if the quilt will be machine quilted or i used in one layer, either on the back or on top but not both. Phew.

The Liberty lawns may not wear quite  so well but they are so wonderful to work with because of their softness, lustre and the unusual and multi-colour variations they bring to a project  even  when used in even small amounts . I think that the thread in the fabric is of very good quality and very strong but they may fade a little more readily than other fabrics  so I’m trying to reduce my use of them a little. If anyone has information or  an opinion about this I’d love to hear it.

In my ‘carry around with me for any spare minute’ box I have, besides the lavender sachet and the old Christmas card that were already in the box

  • Aurofil thread (I quite like Select also and it is a bit easier to thread).
  • Clover seam ripper
  • I’m using #10 Clover gold eye sharps  although I usually use my favourite #11 Bohn milliners needles but they at the moment my local stores are out of them. I’m not sure yet which are better for the tougher fabrics until I can compare them directly.
  • 3 glass head fine Clover pins
  • a little old thimble of that belonged to a great-aunt and a bank  tellers rubber thing for my thumb to help pull the needle through (I love this)
  • little KAI embroidery scissors

The first night I used the Clover needles I snapped 4 of them! This has now stopped so the pressure I’m exerting must be less.

The other favourite things I use and again I love to hear what others use and love are

  • YLI quilting thread
  • Jeanna Kimble betweens- either 10 or 11
  • Olfa ergonomic cutter
  • Creative grid 61/2 and 121/2 inch rulers
  • pilot pencil with 2H or HB leads
  • I have got a really nice mechanical pencil which come with white or green little cylinders of  markers which are great for marking quilt tops but they are in S.A. and I can’t remember what they’re called.

I use a 14-inch hoop for quilting but haven’t tried anything else yet. The times I’ve tried not using a hoop the results have been pretty ordinary.

Since my night of snapping Clover needles I’ve been trying to concentrate on my technique. I tried for about three days to use a technique described by Jinny Beyer in one of her books although I’m not sure if I could work out how to do it correctly from the diagrams.  I’m back to the old ways but I think I’ll keep trying.

I think my quilting technique is OK but I am experimenting with different sorts of batting. In the past I have liked 60% wool 40% polyester batting or Hobbs Heirloom batting for hand quilting. I’ll try some Quilter’s Dream Request batting next on Janet’s recommendation.

more little topsI’ve made a few more items, all from the same Burda pattern I’ve been using for the last year. The detail is fun to play with and always takes me longer than I expect.

My hexagons have been languishing for ages and Sarah’s post has prompted me to action. My hexagons won’t qualify either for official Hexagon  Wednesday but I’ll do unofficial Odd Hexagon Thursdays. I now have 90 but I think I’ll need another 90 or so… a lot more because I want to make the quilt without borders and just use hexagons.

The quilt was inspired by one made by Kerry Dear for Quilter’s Companion magazine about 3 years ago. I noticed tonight that Janet from Quiltsalott has made a quilt very similar to the original one from the magazine.

Oh, and this quilt is now finished and over the chair. It’s hopeless but I just can’t throw  ‘Nurse Betty’ off when she’s doing all she can to help!


4 Responses to “Time for a Catch Up”

  1. Lynn Says:

    What gorgeous little blocks, I am loving that medallion you are making, I will keep my eye open for some finer solids at the quilt market for you.
    Glad you are feeling better.

    • Kathy Says:

      Thanks Lyn-you know I have more than enough fabric and choice, thank you, so don’t worry! it’s just that I’ve just been thinking of backings and what to use on the couple of ‘projects with plains’ I’m doing and the bigger hand piecing projects like the medallion quilt. Have a great time in Sydney!

  2. pratima Says:

    Hi Kathy, sorry to hear that you have been feeling ill again. Is it the change of seasons or too much stress? So sweet that you have such a loving pet by your side at all times 🙂
    Thank you for all the valuable information on fabrics and threads and notions. I’m afraid my knowledge in these matters is very poor and I won’t be of any help with the info’ you are seeking.
    Those star blocks are taking my breath away… they are amazing! Seem like a nice project to take-along.
    The little tops and outfits you’ve been making are simply sweet. Love the soft colors!
    The orange pinwheels remind me of delicious orange slices. The color is very striking and beautiful paired with the lighter fabric. Sorry that some of the fabrics are proving to be hard on your hands for hand-stitching. How is the bulge? Is it any better now? Do take care!

    • Kathy Says:

      Thanks again for your lovely message Pratima. I actually do think you may be right. I had thought I was doing well with the events of the last year, but going down like a ton of bricks after just a cold and then not bouncing back too well has given me a bit of a shock. Anyway Cleo’s nursing, sewing; working at the shop with Lyn and the crew and being looked after must gradually work some magic.xxK

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