December 14   That quilting project

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Windsor Lane MiniCharm SquaresSo I think I remember that project – I wanted to do another charm quilt with a block a month made from the mini charm squares. The rules being, use the fabric that arrives in the month before being allowed to purchase the next month’s, try new blocks and be cool about the charm quilt look of the product. And actually break into my Kona plains C bought me last year. Problem is, that the packs I bought, whilst I like each of them, don’t go with each other and I’m not sure I honestly like charm quilt looks – so itty and bitty and hard to focus the eye.

I’ve been thinking about what else I could do with these cause I still like the idea of an ongoing project for the year – I really enjoyed the sewing circles I was in two years ago now. Not big projects. something that you can finish in a couple of nights but that makes you feel like you achieved something, even if it’s small, each month. I’ve been looking at smaller projects – bags and cases and placemats and so on. Even thinking about gifting things I make. Thing is, I kinda think that stuff looks twee (except in those modern book photo shoots with lots of lime green and chocolate) and also … whilst I might not love the fabrics as my absolutely favourites, I dunno that i want to give away these projects. Which is a bit hoarder of me. And I don’t feel that way about knitted projects, which is weird. And how many quilted items does anyone person really need in life? Is it like 6?

Maybe I don’t need to know the answer to any of these questions right now. Maybe the final product will emerge on its own? I do really like the idea of a project for 2013. I possibly have a knitting one as well. And … the exciting thing, which I can almost not quite conceive of, is that I might actually get my downtime/free time/ out of hours time back next year for … socialising without guilt or stress and hobbies other than publishing. I can barely conceive of this. I keep giving myself strict talks about it. But yes, I will need to learn how to spend my weekends not working, again, after 5 years.

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October 8   New Quilt Project

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I could tell you about all the things I meant to do today and will be having a mad dash to tick off after I post this. I could tell you about the lovely pop in I did at lunch to Stefen’s Books – hey Grill’d has moved in to that end of Shafto Lane and my it’s suddenly a pumping spot! – I bought The Casual Vacancy. And I’m going to have to finish it before I head off to Canada as it’s not a pocket book.

Instead though, I’ll show you the quilting project that’s been absorbing my attention in the last week or so.

I’ve not quite decided the placement of the log cabins, I’m still playing around with them. I fell in love with this fabric line called “Nightshade” which you can see as the centre cameo. And then over at the Fat Quarters Shop they have a thing where bloggers team up different fabric lines with plains and other fabrics and so that’s how there are those old men’s smoking lounge fabrics here. I kinda thought it worked more in the online photo than when they arrived and I’ve been playing around with them to make them work. The first thing I did when I couldn’t get it to work was take it to my mother who unfortunately also agreed with me that they didn’t work so we came up with the idea of splitting them into smaller pieces.. I actually fell in love with this series in the purple version and with the pirate female cameo. So that is the next one after this one. And I’m hoping to make a series of three faces to hang as a wall hanging series.

What I like the most is – it’s quick to sew! When you hand piece, you get used to projects taking a really long time. When my mother suggested just the face and 8 or 12 log cabins as a finished work I thought, “Am I *allowed* to do that?” Which is so me – always with the big extravagant, * complicated* projects that are hard to stay focussed and committed to. So the challenges here are to:

1. use the fabric almost as soon as it arrived and not have it be absorbed into the stash aka fabric collection

2. complete the project quickly for instant enjoyment feedback

3. make the fabric combinations *work* (I didn’t get as many faces to work with as I had hoped because of how my yards were cut)

And I’m enjoying playing round with log cabins. Bit of a step away from the 3D stars :)

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A big shoutout to Sim who knows me and how I think. It was her comments on a previous post about this stuff that really helped me move past my paralysis and guilt relating to my crafting/not crafting/stash/huge number of WIPs. She suggested I put away the charm quilt that was squelching my crafting mojo, be cool with the project lying on hold for a while, and then audit my entire WIPs.

So this took me a while, both due to limited time and also having to actually face both the mess and the unfinished objects. But as one of my tasks I have tackled in my 5 day break, I actually spent a good couple of hours on this. I both created order and more serenity with my craft WIPs and space and I also found the spare bedroom bed. (I then was encouraged to sort out all the clean washing in that room the following day and found the bedroom floor for bonus points. A couple more smaller tasks to go in that room and I can sign it off as Completed. It’s funny how once you break through the paralysis, you just keep eating away at the elephant. And it’s all so much less insurmountable).

I took photos of everything. All my knitting works in progress have been uploaded to my Ravelry page. And yeah, I can see how in that form it’s all a lot less scary and horrible and a lot more encouraging to work through. My name over at Ravelry is girliejones if you’re then and want to be friends.

There doesn’t seem to be an equally useful quilting equivalent so I opened a spreadsheet and loaded all my quilt projects before folding them neatly up and putting them away in my craft cupboard. I also put all related bits and pieces for each project in its own labelled box. This killed two birds – 1. everything is neat and grouped and easy to pick up and put down and 2. it put use to all the little boxes I can’t part with.

Here’s an overview of the quilt projects. You’ll be able to see the gradual reduction in mess on the bed underneath as the task progressed.

The only thing I have left is to sort my fabric scraps. I’ve been picking up a few scrap quilt books and it turns out, saving every last morsel of fabric is ok and perfectly normal and you can make really stunning quilts from them. And you don’t have to only have one scrap quilt for all your scraps. Thus my dreaded scrap quilt which was getting me down can be finished off with the blocks made, I can feel good about drawing a line under it and feel excited about looking into other possible quilts. But first I have to sort them. So – more boxes to be put to work as I sort these according to colour. Another ongoing project but easy to go into the room and do a few and then move on.

Now I just have to decide if I feel up to cataloguing the rest of my yarn stash into Ravelry …

But I feel *so* much better now! And everything is far less daunting and confronting and doable again. And I have a few finished pieces to show! I am interested to see if my catalogues will be used by me – it can be really easy to file that stuff away and then it’s out of sight so you don’t feel bad and then you never go looking for it so you can continue to not feel bad. But the interesting thing in all this decluttering has been to let go of the guilt of having to finish something – a book, a project, whatever – just because I bought it or started it. It’s very freeing to say, “actually, I don’t like this” or “I’m not enjoying this” or “it doesn’t work for me” or “it’s not what I thought it would be” and to then act by giving yourself permission to … gift or donate the book or unravel a started project. So much future time freed up for new and other things!

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Wednesday I finally managed to get to my post office box. It feels weird after it being the regular detour on the way home every day to only make it once a week or once a fortnight! I kinda hate not knowing what mail has arrived. On the other hand, whenever I go now, I get to stagger out with a huge pile of parcels and ephemera. In this batch, all but one of the boxes of books were not for ASif! and instead were the random book buying purchases I did for a week a while back in a blur of online shopping and then forgetting. I had to actually stop completely when I couldn’t remember which sites I’d visited and what I’d actually bought. Just as well I stopped because I totally didn’t remember shopping at Fishpond at all and the evidence says differently!

Just after I posted my first Creativity Dysfunction post, Amazon sent me a book recommendation that looked gorgeous – Sunday Morning Quilts. It got me thinking about quilts but then I deleted the link. Then I was auditioning some quilt related podcasts maybe two weeks ago now. One of them was American Patchwork and Quilting Radio (still not sure I like this one). The episode I listened to had the two authors of Sunday Morning Quilts on as guests. I was actually more interested in them talking about their blogs and the communities they’d built around them and how. And then they spoke about the book and I realized a) it was the book I’d seen and b) their thing is scrap quilting and in fact, playing with colour and scraps. I was INTRIGUED.

I went straight home and spent *quite some time* on the webs looking at options, their blogs and also some books. It had not occurred to me until that moment that scrap quilts – plural – was a thing. That I could in fact make several. Or that they are ongoing projects rather than one ongoing project and I could finish the one I’m making and then move on. That I need not feel the weight of the ever-increasing- with every other project – pile-of-scraps. That scraps could be a great thing, just like stash. I got excited. And then, for some reason, I did not buy that particular book but these.

I’m really excited by the uniformity that lots of small pieces of non uniform fabrics can convey. I’m ready to get started!! (except for that pesky in progress and queued queues of projects)

And so now I do not know why I didn’t get Sunday Morning Quilts. A look on Fishpond has it quite expensive, which could be the reason but it’s not as expensive on other sites. Hmmm …I also had a great peek around the book online last night. I think I’ll start sorting my scrap stash in the meantime, anyway.

I also got these knitting books. Guess why?

 Yup – 1 point for Knitting and 2 points for LISTS!!

And the other is Elizabeth Zimmerman, who is Knitting. The book inside seems to be The Opinionated Knitter and she’s grumpy and fabulous.

I had a quick squizz through Knitter’s Life Lists last night. It’s a combination of lists of things you should do before you die (love!) and also all kinds of interesting factoids and resources to go chase up. I’m definitely one for setting goals for lists of things I want to do, less on the execution of (you may have noticed …) Though I also quite like the idea of just setting aside a small portion at a time/year to look at.

I hunted through to see how part of the knitting zeitgeist I am – in their research for the book they asked lots of knitters what their goal patterns and stitches and techniques and so on were and that was used to compile some of them. I tend to not really *apply myself in knitting. I like the monotony of known patterns and stitches and I tend to knit to switch off. Except, actually that’s not really true at all. When I looked at, for example, all the yarns you should aim to try at some point in your life, I thought that wasn’t something I was really interested in, flicked down the list and thought, “ooh but bamboo! And seasilk and soy silk!” – materials I’ve been wanting to try for agggges. And then when I looked at sweaters and the holy grail and very long list of things to try there, I saw I’m already working on a couple of them! – the kimono jacket, which is my first ever sweater, and also I have the Baby Surprise Jacket which I bought all the yarn for when my niece was incubating and then didn’t make. I’ve since tracked down the pattern (it was hard to find as basically out of print) and now I have a new nephiece coming so I was intending to whip that up for them. So I’m already working on these and I realise do get adventurous at times. Only need a little bit every year and my lifetime of knitting will always be new and challenging.

And then I noticed that the list has Alice Starmore on it.

And look what also arrived in the same book haul, talk about yet more synchronicity.

I’ve not really ever had a desire to try fair isle other than … maybe if I’m stuck on 6 months holidays somewhere and really had no tv to watch or something… But I came across Adrienne Martini on Cast On a while ago (yes, it’s the same Adrienne Martini, the world is this small and I LOVE it) and she was talking about this book that she wrote which was based on her one year quest to complete an Alice Starmore sweater. That’s all I know about the book but I was instantly drawn to it and wished I’d known about it to follow along her journey of it. I can’t wait to read all about it. I just love these kinds of things (similar to the Julie and Julia blog etc). I wish I could be consistent for a year and commit to one thing that I could obsess about (oh! Nevermind! Stop judging!) Anyway, these sweaters are really hard to make and also, really hard to find the yarn, I think. I’ll tell you more when I’ve read the book which I’m dying to start right now.

And finally, I got Redwood and Wildfire from Aqueduct Press which is very funny because in the morning I’d gotten a refund on postage for a book I’d ordered the night before (Brit Mandeolo’s new book on Joanna Russ) and was swooning about how much I love Aqueduct Press books and then one of the packages had their sticker on it and I thought … huh? What ELSE have I bought! This is the Tiptree winner for this year and Tansy raved about it on Galactic Suburbia as well. I’m thinking if you liked The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman, you might like this. But I’ll let you know.

So many books and craft and things and so fricking little time!

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As I said, still not with the sitting still and doing one thing. I am *supposed* to be finishing my first lot of socks for the Cookie A sock club. Here is how much I have done of the first sock. Nearly the cuff. And I know that the second round has been posted to me so I am knitting against the clock here. I chose the pattern that is going to knit up like fortune cookies but that lace repeat is starting to get to me. Any second now, I get to turn the heel. And yet.

And yet, even with the deadline, I mostly knit on the kimono jacket.

And that has its own story. When I was cataloguing my WIPs, I pulled it out. I guess it was about half done and not touched for a good five years. I realised what was stopping me from finishing was that I had no idea where I was up to on the pattern. I know realise it would have been only a matter of measuring the sleeves and continuing on. However, actually when I measured it, I decided I was knitting it one size too small for me. So I unravelled the whole thing and started from scratch with one size up. But. Either the wool had sat for so long under a window in the sun and perished a little, or a moth or two had gotten to it. Or my knitting was not all that flash hot. Because the yarn is frayed to broken in some places. In more than a few places. So this has been a process of joining broken yarn and so on all along the way.

At first this was really hard and I realised that it was because I want this piece to be perfect. And I also want it to look exactly like the picture in the pattern. Except for two things. 1. Its not the same yarn as in the picture so it’s not going to look like that (why I didn’t buy that yarn when I purchased the it is a mystery for the ages because I no longer remember)  and 2. This is the first sweater, and in fact non accessory sized adult garment, I’ve ever knit. Its probably not going to be perfect.  And I’ve realised I need to give that up and get over myself and knit the damn jumper. It’s just a jumper. So I am nearly back knitted up to where I started when I unravelled it. And miraculously, most of that knitting happened this weekend. It was only just maybe 10 or 20 rows in when I took it to Swancon on Friday. And now I’m halfway through through the sleeves. I’m not sure if it’s going to be long enough but I’ll see.

The exciting bit about this project is that it involves a dropstitch when you get to the end. Yup, you purposely drop a bunch of stitches across it – and that, I reckon probably will make it might lighter and longer. So I’ve been waiting for that moment for about 5 years. I’m all about the delayed satisfaction.

So what with all this excitement and deadlines. Yeah I totally spent yesterday on something completely else. Remember my panic about moving over to knitting and not quilting? Well I’ve been listening to a bunch of podcasts on my drives all last week – both on knitting and on quilting – and following the lead on one of the quilting podcasts led me to a New York Beauty quiltalong. I only first came across the New York Beauty blocks last year but I fell in love with them and I fell hard. I love the art deco feel you can get with them and I love the sharp contrasts of points and circles and I love the amazing effects piecing them can bring. But I’m scared of them cause I’ve never done circular sewing before.

But I stared at this quiltalong all the rest of last week. And even though I’m not going to join and even though I’m *knitting to deadline*, I printed out one or two templates. And then today I went rifling through my stash. I kinda wanted to use the Paris cats fabric for it but I don’t know how much of that is still committed. And then I remembered/found this gorgeous set of fat quarters called something or other Noir. And I had bought it for liking it but with nothing in particular in mind. And it has Eiffel Tower fabric in it and …. and I started another project! Oops!

It feels terrible to be so utterly unfocussed right now. But it also feels fantastic to just follow creative whim. And this turned out so much better than I thought it would. It’s not a great semicircle (it has a bit of lineaity in it) – but first try! And I love how the points came out. I’m so suckered into the New York beauty! There are nine different blocks in this quiltalong.

I think I’m in!

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Apologies for this and the next couple of posts I’m going to make. They’re a bit of a whinge and a self kicking but I feel like I need to get them down here before I can move beyond them. Not talking or writing about it is becoming a block and not helping with the working to move past it.

It’s not surprising given how I feel – frustrated and drowning – that I’m not getting much done on my craft projects. And that frustrates me even more – craft is my outlet. But not being able to face crafting? Makes me even sadder. I noticed that what I have been able to do is more of the scrap quilt. And worse, I noticed I was doing it with almost an obsessive quality. And … well … this is not a project that is going to have a quick end date which means there is no quick payoff or enjoyment to dedicating myself to it. I’m not even really getting scraps tidied up and reduced because there are just *so many* of them. And it’s an example of how I so easily get sidetracked and how I do it as an avoidance technique.

Once I identified this, I realised it was because I was stuck pairing the above triangles for my charm quilt project. So I spread them all out on the table, as you can see, to just, face up to it and start making hexagons. Mm.. I have a lot of charm pieces. And they don’t match. I managed to pull maybe 8 hexagons (6 triangles in each) out of these stacks last weekend. And then I just got kinda depressed with the damn project. I can’t make those damn pieces match. And … *deep breath*  I kinda hate how the project is turning out. Here is just a small part of the pieced quilt top so far. I just. It’s not really doing anything for me. It’s not really going where I wanted it to go. And I can’t tell if this is just deep-into-project-fatigue or my general ennui or if it totally sucks. And none of these are really helping with the getting on with working on, and enjoying making, the quilt.

So that’s not really going very well. And neither is the rest of it. I was really inspired and loving the craft projects I had on the go. And the point of having the spare bed in the craft room was to have it as a working space to piece quilt tops and get them to the finished stage this year. This is how the bed looks at the moment – and this is after I cleared all the clean laundry off it and put that away. I can see 6 separate projects there in various levels of disarray and there is at least one more to the right of that box. Nothing about this inspires creativity.

AND. Course of course there is an And. I’ve been researching for the craft ebook project and listening to a lot of back episodes of Cast On podcast (more about the VJJ project later). And I am starting to miss my knitting. I have this terror of switching crafts – I’m sure I felt it when knitting about moving into quilting and now that I am here, ensconced in quilting, I don’t want to get absorbed back into knitting and abandon all these projects. But as much as I am kinda feeling I’d like to get back into knitting, or figuring out how to knit and sew at the same points in my time-space continuum, I think I’d like to try a sweater. I’ve never knit a jumper before. Which is not really 100% true – I have a kimono jacket which has been on the needles, possibly since the ex and I split. And this not finished. I’ve never embarked on a large knitted project and I’m kinda tempted. But at the same time, I feel like I need to finish the many many WIPs I have on needles about the place. And what’s stopping me? Not knowing where I was up to on most of them.


Am I driving myself crazy right now?


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February 29   A Craft post

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I’m kinda hoping for a regular craft post. But for now, here is one, and I’ll hope to make another soon!

At the moment, I seem to be really distracted by these teeny versions of log cabin squares. I think technically they are steeplechase or some other name but the pattern is part of the log cabin family. And what this project is is two things 1) A fascination with using the scrappiest of scraps to make something useful/art that would otherwise have been thrown away and 2) an example of how I can distract myself, go off on long winded tangents and also create huge rods for my back.

This project is a long term one. It’s a scrap quilt. It’s using pieces of fabric I really didn’t want to part with – many of the scraps are from charm squares remainders after I’ve cut the piece for my charm quilt. But the problem is, I’m finding I’m acquiring these scraps faster than I can cut and sew them up. My mother threw in a bunch of her scraps from a few quilts she made last year. And I’m really collecting scraps out of my charm square project among other projects. It turns out, it’s not that hard to accumulate scraps. And in the interests of not having this get sucked into hoarding tendencies, I’ve been really trying for the last three months or so to get on top of it (I’m not really making much headway).

The squares are small – I’ve thrown my car key into the picture for scale. And they are a little fiddly to cut and sew. I have four ziploc bags filled with pieces I’ve cut out and then I work on some other project and use the spare thread at the end of a seam to sew bits of these together. Using the scrap thread for the scrap quilt.

Except, these little blocks are so colourful and fun to make, I sometimes get a little absorbed in them instead of working on other “proper” projects. It’s distracting! I’ve been playing around with lights and darks on these and intend to have a careful play with piecing the finished squares to see what I can do with the overall picture. I’ve learned a lot with my monochrome and charm quilts about colour, lights and darks and movement and I’m interested to see if I can pull something off with this little scrap project. Also, it’s based on an antique quilt I saw once on cable TV from a dressmaker who lived in an Australian gold mining town during the gold rush. She used silks from ties for hers but it looked spectacular. I’m hoping mine will be similar. Though I’m a bit worried it might be a really huge quilt (hers was a small wall hanging).

Lately though, I’ve been so pressed for time and so immersed in other things, I’ve hardly had time for crafting at all. I’ve mostly spent what little time I’ve had on cutting out pieces for this quilt rather than actually work on anything creatively. And I’ve actually been happy with that – it’s been “enough”. And what fascinates me about that is that rarely is the prepping for a project fun for me. I like the bit just after that, the starting. And I remember reading in Quilting Lessons that some days, all she did all day was cut out pieces for a new project, and thinking that there’s no way that would ever be my activity of choice and certainly not for extended periods. But it turns out, sometimes your head is just too busy to be able to do more than that. (Maybe I was just never this busy before in my life?) And that actually that’s totally ok. Because later on, all I’m going to want to do is sew and create and PastMe will have done all the groundwork to facilitate that.

And don’t even get me started on the *wanting* to get started on the first socks for the Cookie A Sock club I signed up for. We’ve decided not to bake the biscuits that came along with the yarn for just now. But I really really want to knit along with this one all year so as not to end up with 6 balls of yarn for my stash come Xmas. Stay tuned …

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February 1   Things Accomplished

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I described to a friend today in an email how this year is starting to feel to me – a year of consolidation. I meant it in regards to craft, my quilting to be specific. Here is the object in question, the finished quilt top of the monochrome tumbling blocks.

For a few years now, I’ve had the new years resolution to finish x many projects and have failed to deliver. This year, I have no resolutions at all. I’m content to go with the idea that whatever is really important to me, I will do. And the rest, well it was not important enough for me to do. And without such imposed rules, one month into the year and I’ve finally finished my first quilt top for the year. A project in development for over two years now. I hope to be able to have it quilted by the time the year is out. But we shall see.

And I haven’t stopped here. I’ve been looking at all the exciting projects I have queued up, and all the stash that is, as yet, unallocated. And still I am picking up started projects and working on them. I like the tidying and organising feeling of working on projects long into development and the wrapping up. Well. *This* year I like that. This is the thing I often complain about here but don’t explain well. I go through *periods*.[1] And right now, I’m in a progressing and finishing phase. I’m working on the scrap quilt and the charm quilt and finishing off the still in progress Xmas presents. And after those are done, I will be basting and quilting a quilt top I finished last year.

I like the order that is being created. But I am also aware that none of this is really at the creative end of the craft spectrum. And I wonder if I’m out of creative steam right now. I’m preferring to do the repetitive tasks of fiddling and finishing projects where all the creative decisions were made long ago in a startitis phase. I don’t seem to want to sit down and create or plan or start anything new. And actually, that’s ok. Like I said, a year of consolidation. I do do that from time to time – spend a long period just tidying and sorting and finishing things and creating order in my world. The sweeping the floor and clearing off the desk to make for new projects to come.

I’m still hard at work sorting and culling in the house. It’s down to all those boxes you never open and I’m having to look at all kinds of small objects that I don’t really want and make decisions about them. I’m doing it bit by bit. And sort of understanding how those people really turned their life around on Hoarders Buried Alive – that it really is a long and ongoing process but in so doing it also really does change the way you think and the things you do. I am so much better able to just turn down offers of crap other people are trying to get rid of. I actually told the lady at Bunnings that the Australia Day flag she was offering me would “just be one more thing I’d have to throw out later” and she nodded very knowingly. Don’t acquire it in the first place is the best rule of all. But I’m getting there. It’s an emotional process so it does take a while and I don’t feel up to sorting through my past every day. It’s not every day you feel like you can part with it and toss it out. But on good days I’m getting through a lot of it and I don’t regret tossing out anything so far. I guess soon that will make me properly moved in.

And I guess to some extent the Twelve Planets feels like a consolidation process. I’ve delivered 4 of the 12. And I’m very proud of them. I think they well represent the rest of the series to come. Book 5 is very almost at the printers. And Books 6, 7 and 8 are not far behind. All the stories have been finalised and rewrites done. And now that I have sent Jason his edits for Salvage, I realised that I might very well have done all the heavy lifting for editing for 2012.

It really does feel like it will be a good year. On the other hand, the quilt top is upside down in the photo above! It really should look like this here, and that matters to me because I agonised over the placement of the red blocks! My original idea had been to have just 3 red diamonds. But Kate convinced me that I would need blocks for the 3D effect to still work. She of course was right.

I learned a lot in making this quilt. I especially learned a lot about the effects of texture and on mixing lights, darks and mediums. I also learned that overall effect can swamp the individual pieces – I worked so hard on not placing same blocks next to each other etc but your eye hardly really pulls that much detail out to look at. And I also learned that finishing is more important than perfection. Sometimes, the lesson learned is more important and moving on and taking that lesson to apply to the next thing is more valuable than standing still, redoing to perfect the current.

I took the lessons from this quilt and immediately turned them to my charm quilt. The charm quilt has no two pieces repeated. Every piece is unique. And in mine, I’m trying to do something with hexagons and darks and lights to create yet more tumbling blocks, but this time in full colour. Turning to this project I was immediately able to see several sections that simply did not work, and why. And there was nothing for it but to unpick these pieces and replace. And there I was removing centre pieces and replacing like it was nothing. The process gave me some insight into art – the process of making art, where works are about exploring, not perfecting, a technique. Where the process of creating art is about learning to create rather than creating perfect work  for the appreciation of others.

Photos of the next quilt to come.

[1] And my issue with this is that whenever I am deep within one, I worry I will never come out, and do likely the opposite. So in a knitting obsessive period, I worry I will never quilt again. And vice versa. etc. So actually I am worried I may never knit again right now. I’m also worried if I take knitting with me this weekend, I might get kicked into a knitting binge and abandon my quilting.

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Last night I had an acute Crohn’s flareup that lasted into this morning and so I was home sick and feeling sorry for myself today. I ended up not really doing much of import. But finally finished the third quarter of the monochrome quilt. It’s actually a rather large project – a queen size bed – so I had trouble fitting it all in the photo. When it’s finished I’ll hang it on the washing line for a good proper pic.

You can almost see the second red block I got to insert in this quarter (at the top of the photo). There is one more to go into the final quarter. When you piece this many blocks together, the random red is like this huge reward. And for the final quarter, it’s up in row two which is both exciting but means the pay off is sooner rather than later. Any hoo…


Not wanting to let this project languish like last time, I did a count of the remaining blocks I’d already made, to see how many and of which still needed to be made. I have been following my own handy chart for the piecing and whilst I haven’t stuck to it perfectly, it’s been a great guide. Anyway, I discovered that I was just 11 blocks from the end. That’s right, I let this project languish for over a year when I only had 11 blocks to make and then the rest of the project to assemble. Sure, it’s taken me about a week to assemble (and sew) the third quarter and then to look at what remained to discover this. but I can’t help thinking this is a lot like many other abandoned projects of mine – so close to the finish line and then just tossed aside for something more exciting and new.

The calculator says 756 – that’s how many diamonds went into this project. And the photo below shows the 52 blocks I had already pieced last year (or the year before!) that will make up the final quandrant. and above them are all the extra diamonds I cut out. You can’t really tell  but that is one big pile of random diamonds I don’t need – I’m guessing there is maybe 100 extra.


And I can’t help thinking that the (lack of ) process of this project shows some insight into how I could improve the way I work, generally. See, I had a plan at the start (see chart in the photo, it has a key and everything).  I had all the tools and materials that I needed. And I had enthusiasm. But what I lacked was organisation and management of the project as it unfolded. I tend to wing things in life. Had I had a better logging and management system, I would have made the right number of blocks for each type (I labelled them by the dark diamond) and I would have known I only needed to cut out 756 diamonds in total. Instead, I never really knew how many of what I had or needed to make and the thought of having to audit it in the middle was too confronting and difficult so I just pressed on. Hmmm … this sounds a lot like my finance spreadsheets, doesn’t it?

So, I applied this newfound knowledge to a new problem just today. I realised that the next step (see last post on this topic) for a particular project at TPP was to assign something an ISBN. But I’d been holding off on that because .. .well, I have no system for those. What? Well a press just falls out of your handbag, you never really plan on it, who knew I’d have over 40 to juggle so soon? Anyway, there was only one thing for it – design a logging and management system right then and there. Ahem. A spreadsheet was called for. And whilst, yes that raised more questions than perhaps it answered, I can’t help but admit that I am further ahead. And a bit more organised.

I’m coming to think that I’m not as organised a person as I might like to think. Perhaps that will be something I can report that I changed in 2012?



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We’re looking after my parents’ dog, Morrie, at the moment. He’s quite old, not interested in making new friends, yet despite this, unbelievably patient with the puppy who does not take no for an answer. It took a good few days for Morrie to settle in. He kept looking like he thought Sasha had cooties. But yesterday, for some reason, he seemed to really settle in. He started patrolling the perimeter and sitting guard at the front door, in turns. This mesmerised Sasha who went from constantly antagonising Morrie to sitting in choice viewing spots and watching Morrie get hot under the collar. Now they are both tiring each other out and napping and not annoying us, more importantly.

Anyway, I just noticed that Morrie puts himself to bed and then doesn’t get up for anything. Puppies on the other hand, are always up for any old caper and will happily wake up and wander down the other end of the house with you, no matter the hour. On noticing this, I remarked to C: We should get another puppy when Sasha starts to get old.

C: I’m planning on doing that with you, too.

Me: *unimpressed look*

C: Yeah, isn’t the old one supposed to train the new one?

Me: You really want *me* training your next wife?

C: maybe I’ll pay someone.

So now I am sitting in bed, nursing a very painful spicy food incident and contemplating my holiday that was, as the prospect of hours to returning to the day job tomorrow approaches. Holidays are no way long enough and I really really wish I didn’t have to go to work yet. I only have 8 days left in this job to go. I of course got nowhere near what I had hoped to get done done. And I’m getting more and more scared about the longer commute that I have signed up for with my new job. I’m consoling myself on the first with the fact that the holidays have kickstarted my getting round to a bunch of things which I can continue to work on, in shorter spurts, as of tomorrow.

  • I got started on sorting out and clearing out the two spare rooms which have some of the last, and worst, of my unpacking. You know, all the stuff that you don’t know what it is or what’s with it so you don’t unpack it cause you’d have to sort it out.
  • I also sorted and tossed yet more of the postgrad stuff.
  • I homed a few more of my pictures on various walls.
  • I started some low effort gardening (mostly setting the habit of watering things)
  • I watched about 50 hours of The Vampire Diaries. Ahem
  • Also watched bits of Homeland, Psych, Primeval, The New Girl, Whitney, The Big Bang Theory, Private Practice
  • Sorted out my quilting – did about half of my xmas presents (the rest still to go), discovered I had one quilt top finished and located backing and wadding for the finishing of the project (that’s as far as that got), almost finished the third quarter of the monochrome quilt, made up almost 50 of the charm hexagons for my charm quilt (and discovered I have many many triangles precut for this project).
  • Read several books
  • Bought a ipad
  • Started my 2012 Last Short Story Reading
  • Participated in the Mega Boxing Day Podcast
  • Worked on three different Twelve Planets collections
  • Worked on a couple of unannounced TPP projects
  • Found a couple of comics that I’m dabbling in
  • Opened and started processing TPP’s novel manuscript submissions call

Ok, after that list, I guess I did ok with my holiday. I felt really like I had nothing left to give to the year and spent a lot just “pottering about the house” which is one of my favourite things to do when I’m on downtime. So I have to be happy with that. Even though a lot of things didn’t get progressed as far as I’d like.

But I did get a bit of insight into how I operate – know thine enemy – in terms of procrastination. I figure if I can figure out why I don’t do things I really want to, maybe I can figure out a way around my own obstacles. Or something. Don’t read that too closely, it’ll give you a headache. I often figure up tricks to get myself to do things I don’t want to. And whilst, the making myself do things I don’t want to do is more a thing of the past, making myself do things I want to do is kinda new and still shiny. Anyway, what I discovered is I often abandon or avoid things when they require going to find something out, or figuring out how to do something, or if left fallow too long, not knowing where I was up to or what I was doing.

So the whole sorting out my craft cupboard involved grouping like with like ie all parts of each project in one place and then taking stock to see where each was up to. And that alone was enough to get my enthusiasm back for about 6 projects at once. Often just identifying what the next step is (something C is often saying to me) was enough to help me move forward. It meant that instead of starting a bunch of new projects which had been my plan, I ended up happily working on older ones. I took this and applied it to other things, like sorting out scary packing boxes of doom, and emails that were waiting for answers, and TPP projects I’d stalled on, and found great success. It seems so simple but I think I need the reminder – when looking at something I’m avoiding, think up what just the next step is. Maybe that should be my thing for this year.

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November 13   Change of routine

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I promised Deb that I would think about taking all of December off from Twelfth Planet Press.  I still have a lot to get done before January and that idea is looking less likely. But, I am intending to have off the leave days I take from work as complete days off and am already planning the TV I’m gonna watch and the crafting I’m gonna finish whilst watching it. But I miss crafting – I’ve barely had time for it the last two months or so. So I’m going to try and post a pic every day of something that I’ve done that day – it might not be anything special, it might be cutting out pieces to be sewn another day but every journey begins with the first step, right?

Today’s photo is the first block for some Xmas presents. I’m feeling very in the kitschy Xmas mood this year. And this material is just perfect. I just cut out a bunch more and the material (assorted trees and reindeer and baubles) makes me smile.

In other news, I can report I managed a 7.30am start at work every day this week. I loved it so much I made C set the alarm over the weekend to make sure that I didn’t fall out of the routine. I’m so terrified this is all just jetlag and that I’ll flip back to my old ways. Thing is, I’ve been doing a few other things that are uncharacteristic for me too, which has people around me feeling discombobulated.

I’ve given up coffee. And don’t even miss it. Ok maybe I miss it a bit but I’ve also been falling asleep between 9pm and 10pm and am wondering if that’s as a result of giving up the caffeine. Plus my guts are still not up to coffee again. A friend at work freaked out when I made a herbal tea in the afternoon. She was like, “I’ve never seen you drink tea before!” – we’ve worked together for about 4 years now. And I actually *do* like tea. I just, I fall into routines and I don’t come out of them, I guess.

I feel better. Like a lot better. I like the getting a jump start on the day. I like getting to go home by 3.30 – no mid afternoon slump. I feel like I’m sleeping better and I’m getting 8 hours a night now. I’m eating better. And I feel more cheerful. I think I worked better at my day job last week than I have in a while (though have also had a bit of a break, with the US trip). I like the new routine. And trust me, I never ever thought I would say that. I’ve not been a morning person for at least the last twenty years.

Here’s to it sticking!


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I hadn’t yet met my mother’s cousin (S) so we had a good chance to get to know each other a bit on the drive from the hotel to Balboa Park, which is where we were going for the day. Balboa Park is a gorgeous place with a bunch of museums and other entertainment venues all clustered in the one place. What a great idea for both ease of tourists – you just head to one place and can spend the time touristing rather than moving from location to location – and also for deciding after you get there what you feel like seeing.

S already knew I was interesting in quilting so the first place she planned to take was to see the Bold Expressions quilt exhibition. My cousin (D) and her partner (V) came out to meet us and see the exhibition with us as well and we all enjoyed wandering around and having a look at the quilts.

__ The exhibition showed off part of Corinne Riley’s quilt collection of quilts by African American women, mostly from the 30s and 40s across states like Alabama and Texas.

We had a great time discussing many of the quilts and talking over some of the aspects that have me utterly drawn to this art form (yep, calling it art and not craft). Basically, there is the idea that quilts are made to cover – in other words, people have a need for warmth and comfort and so women make quilts to be a functional, purposeful item. An example of this is say this quilt to the right here, which is made out of pieces of clothing. This woman maybe took whatever she had close to hand, that had lost any functional purposed for clothing and pieced it together to become bedding. Though, even having done that, there is still balance of colour and composition in the way in which she has done that here.

But, if quilting really was just about cover and purpose, then the most efficient way to do that is surely not to take pieces of fabric, cut them into smaller pieces and then devise complicated patterns to best fit them back together to form a blanket. Wouldn’t you just piece larger bits of fabric together to be done in much quicker time? In other words, women found ways to be creative and artistic whilst still outputting functional items which people would be hard pressed to argue were without purpose. And that’s one of the things I most love about quilting. These quilts in this exhibition were mostly created by poorer women who used anything they could to hand. And within these constraints, they found ways to express their creativity.

This is D standing in front of a stunning quilt called “Pine Burr” which was made out of cotton fabrics in Alabama in the 30s and 40s.

Here is an up close shot as well to show the detailed and careful work. And then next to it  the nameplate for this work.

In case you can’t read it, it says “This obsessively constructed all-cotton Pine Burr Quilt was done in multiple circles and pieced together.” By and large, we found the plates for each work disappointing. What we wanted to know was information about the women and how these quilts came about. And how and where they were collected. And things like that. Instead we got tags like the one here that I have quoted which particularly grated with me because I reacted to the word “obsessively” which I feel is a loaded word and the same intend could perhaps have been better described as “meticulously” for example.

Quilts like the one above and the one below weren’t products of mental illness, as I think the word “obsessive” implies. These quilts would have been made over many years, perhaps decades. And show great investment of time and talent as the right materials are collected and placed to create an overall impression or experience.

They show how value and art can be derived from otherwise considered waste materials – tiny scraps of fabric.

Other pieces we loved were ahead of their time – described as reminiscent of modern painting. Like this one, made out of discarded jeans:

And this one was another favourite of mine, made in Alabama in the 40s, it has such a Japanese quilt inspiration about it:

So we loved this exhibition!



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Yesterday was the first time possibly for this whole year, that my soul started to get replenished. A lot happened so I’ll post in parts.

Started the morning with breakfast with Charles. He has scoped out the whole hotel grounds and pretty much knows how to get everywhere. This is great because I am constantly getting lost going back to my room. We headed over to the restaurant and had breakfast. I had the breakfast buffet but really got no more out of it than what I had for my room service order the day before. We hung out and chatted and stuff before wandering off to the reception. Jonathan had said to request his room be located somewhere near mine (I am gonna spend a lot of this con getting lost, I can tell) and also to pick up my message which we discovered was that my package had arrived. The package department it turned out was all the way at the other end of the campus, where we had already been.

After we finally found Packaging,we picked up my fabric order. It looks to me like I should be still getting a second package because this didn’t have the contents of the order that I never received at home, which they said they would also send. Either way, this fabric so far is a bit heavier than I had planned which has me a bit worried about schleppage home as in how many more items (aka books) I have space for.

Charles and I hung out for a bit more – he kindly gave me some specfic books from the Philippines and we chatted about the scene there, and WFC and whether we thought dry ice would stay dry and icy long enough for ice cream to be mailed successfully from Ohio. I suspect that we won’t actually be able to test this as the last chance to order icecream to get it here by the end of the con is today.

Charles walked me back to reception and sat with me til my Mum’s cousin came and picked me up for the day!




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