Finally over the finish line…

Finished, finished, finished! I am so pleased to see this little quilt done. I don’t know why this project started to feel like a penance I had to finish, but by the end I was so glad to sew the last of the binding down. I still love the pattern, still like the fabrics, still want a huge quilt one day, but should that glorious day arrive, I’ll be treating myself to a longarm quilting finish!

The quilting was definitely the hardest part, not in terms of technical difficulty, unless you count spacing safety pins appropriately throughout as a technical difficulty, but in terms of my patience….eesh, it was quite a challenge.

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Things I have learned:

1) It is fun to challenge yourself with a trickier new pattern.
2) Knowing how you feel about quilting is as important to the finished quilt as the design/style you actually go for. I’m not sure I’d straight line quilt so densely again by machine, but I might instead go halves with some hand quilting – which I love to do.
3) Klona cotton rocks – stays beautifully firm during piecing, almost as if it had been starched, and then nicely drapy after it’s washed.
4) When a project starts to feel like a penance – it’s a good idea to have a smaller one to hand, I have made Miss Marmoset a PE bag for when she starts school next September. I’d show you today, but so far it cannot be prised out of her small, but surprisingly strong grasp. It was nice to have something simple I could definitely do to turn to when my quilty confidence was starting to dip and the OhSoddits were creeping in. Anyone else suffer from OhSoddits from time to time? I’m thinking of starting a support group.
5) Binding and me; we need to work on our relationship.

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Still, I’m happy with the Triple Irish Chain now, not least because it’s only the second thing I’ve made that I get to keep!

Thanks for reading,
Helenx

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Long Days Short Years

Yesterday was Miss Marmoset’s 4th birthday. As always on my children’s birthdays I’m amazed that a whole year had gone by since the last one, and then amazed again when I look at pictures of the previous year’s birthday at how much they have changed in 12 months. Yesterday was lovely, Miss Marmoset enjoyed her presents and was a happy and well-mannered monkey all day, including her party where she played beautifully with all her friends. However, it’s not without a touch of poignancy, you see now my baby is 4 I have to finally concede that the baby years are now over. I am a little bit sad, although I should be clear, not sad enough to say ‘sleep, schmeep, let’s do it all over again’!

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Still I look back on the monkeys baby pictures and wonder, really where does the time go? I’ve always maintained that parenting is all long days/short years, but still I could never have imagined it could whizz along like this. That being said I can remember looking at Miss M on this picture and wonder what her personality would be like. I’ve adored finding out what a funny, kind, curious, stubborn and loving little girl she is and glad I didn’t know then that at 4 she still wouldn’t be sleeping through the night 3 nights out of 7!

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A kiss to my little miss and I’ll leave you with a poem by Derek Mahon that really speaks to me as a parent, maybe it chimes with you too?

For the days are long –
From the first milk van
To the last shout in the night,
An eternity. But the weeks go by
Like birds; and the years, the years
Fly past anti-clockwise
Like clock hands in a bar mirror.

Thanks for reading,
Helenx

The rough with the smooth

We could be talking about my shins here, but mercifully we’re not. The Triple Irish Chain is now being quilted, with varying success. Sometimes the gulf between my ability to piece and my ability to actually quilt is quite depressing. As I’ve already mentioned, I only started machine piecing and quilting last year, after about 15 years of paper piecing by hand. Whilst my machine piecing skills seem to have come together quite quickly, the machine quilting is *sighs* NOT. I can’t pretend I find machine quilting all that interesting. I can only straight line quilt, which can induce torpor in the most experienced of quilters, as a result I tend to under-quilt. So I decided that the Triple Chain needed a more densely quilted approach, which is fine, but the results are mixed to say the least. It may be that I put too many safety pins in the quilt during the basting process but my walking foot does not like them one little bit. It skips stitches and I fear I will have to go over some lines again. It may of course be that my walking foot hates me, not a problem mentioned in the manual, but after a while you can’t help wondering…

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So to keep me from plunging into a dark valley of despondency I’ve started some paper piecing again. In my last post I got all excited about the octagons in Natural Patchwork, and well, just couldn’t wait to have a go. It’s easy to forget just how soothing patchwork by hand can be. I stick a West Wing box set on the DVD player grab my scraps bag and a few sheets of printed out octagons and, well, three very comfy hours later I’ve produced these…

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Paper piecing like this isn’t really the kind of thing I approach with any defined project in mind. It may turn into a quilt, or a some cushion covers, or a sewing machine cover or any number of things, it’s the process rather than the project that’s the draw. Unlike when I make things by machine, which are all planned projects with a definite destination in mind. I think in future, to soothe my ruffled quilting ego, I’m going to have to ensure I have a hand-sewing project on the go as well as a machine sewn one. For those days when Jan (the sewing machine) and I just can’t seem to get along at all.

Thanks for reading,
Helenx