Thursday, 28 November 2013
So, you have big pile of 4 1/2" squares left over from a long distant project and you realise these would be great utilised for a Christmas gift. Afterall, the colour choosing and cutting is already done for you!
a) make a simple square patchwork which you could probably knock over in an afternoon, quickly crossing off one gift from your Christmas making list or...
b) let yourself dream a little too long about that hourglass block you've always wanted to play with and dive into chain piecing (all four sides),...
...pressing, piecing, pressing...
...and sewing, thereby adding an extra seven or so steps to your process and rendering your blocks even smaller than the original squares?
Well, of course I chose B! Though now I am wondering if I'm completely ridiculous. They are very cute blocks, though, don't you think?
What about you? a or b?
Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Time goes fast and slow when you're having a baby. That funny mix of, "Has it really been that long since I blogged/sewed/ate/saw another adult??" and, "How am I only 21 weeks? Wasn't I 20 weeks a month ago?" It feels like I blogged yesterday, and March, my due date, is ten years away.
|My friends' 'Fire Quilt'|
Me: I didn't make it to the machine or computer again today.
Me: Yes, but you helped the kids tidy their disaster of a room, baked banana bread, and did a bit of homeschooling. You are amazing.
Apart from the last week of sick kids, I have actually been quite productive, and not just in the 'keeping my kids alive and growing a baby' sense. I had my last stint at The Olive Tree Market for this year, and somehow, amazingly finished up these three quilts in the three days leading up to it. Most of my quilt making experiences involve a moment where I say, "Oh. This is going to take heaps longer than I expected." Somehow, with these three, I was finished before I could get close to having that thought.
(this photo melts my heart every time!)
Then I came home and photographed and listed everything in my Etsy shop. Hoping to clear it all out before baby, folks! There's a big rack of girls clothes right where I want the cradle to go.
And I had my 20 week scan, which was the most perfect scan experience one could hope for (apart from some cheeky crossed legs!). The sonographer kept finding clearer views of everything so I could have another look. She was so kind and thorough. These are my favourites.
In the end, she tried yet another look at the 'bits', got a quick peak and said, "Ooh, I think...yeah I'd go '____'. She seemed about 70% sure, so we're keeping it a secret. (Tim didn't want anyone to know anyway, but I was going to talk him around!) I didn't realise I'd set my heart on one or the other till I heard her say those words. And my first reaction was disappointment, then surprise at my reaction, then guilt. I had one of each! What did I have to be disappointed about?! Thank goodness for good friends who help me be gentle with myself, who talked about their own experiences. Truth be told, I think I would have felt that sinking feeling no matter what news I received. We're planning this to be our last, so there's that, "Oh! No more little girls/boys..." sadness. And both my kids were wonderful and challenging in their own way. And so many of my memories are wrapped up in their gender. So there was the "Oh, I don't want another difficult sleeper/big feeder/insert other common baby challenge here!" But I am making a whole new person. And once I let myself think it all through, I became very excited. Can anyone else relate?
And now... Do I make pink/blue/neutral? Or do I wait? What would you do? xx
Monday, 14 October 2013
I did a little fabric swap with a friend of mine recently. She needed 4 yds of my solid bone fabric, and offered in return, a little fabric shopping online where she was putting in an order. Fabric shopping you say? I didn't look twice at my solid cotton in bone.
I have let myself look online a few times this year. I've even let myself put some things in a cart. And then I've closed my laptop. There's been times where all I felt like was some online shopping therapy, some seeing what's out there. And I'm glad to say I haven't folded. It's always actually renewed my resolved to keep my year long fast.
I opened up the fabric store site and started clicking things into my cart. I always use my cart as a wishlist first, and then start to cull. I started with the sale section and was glad to see Shelbourne Falls by Denyse Schmidt and some Sarah Jane and even some Hand Drawn Garden by Anna Maria. Note to self: if you wait, it will always go on special. I went looking for some text prints, some other basics...and soon I had about 20 yards in my cart. Well that was fun! Now to narrow it down to four.
I started with the easy ones. The "I'm only buying this because it's $5/yd" prints. Now I had about 15yds. Starting with the reminder that the end of the year would come around quick enough, I asked myself what I actually really like. I could have asked myself, "What will I use?" which also would have been a helpful way of narrowing it down. A simple dot print is one I usually pass up for something more elaborate, but always end up finishing first. But hey. I was shopping for fabric for the first time in months. What would I like? Here's what I chose:
The blue egg print for a quilt back I have planned and the rest just for fun. The text prints got shelved, along with the dots. There's always next year for those.
And what did I learn? (because there's always a lesson in experiences like this!)
- The whole psychology of sales totally works on me. It takes a bit of convincing to let go of something for $5 that I would never buy for 10.
- Because of this, I don't always take the time to really look at prints to decide if I like them or not. I am influenced by value, popularity, scarcity.
- Designs that I couldn't believe I was missing out on when they first came out this year, have faded in their desirability.
- When I have to choose only one or two prints, rather than get a whole bundle of a line, I become much more critical/aware of what I actually like.
I've kind of been imagining this massive shopping spree in the new year. To have that delicious feeling again of ordering, waiting, arriving, washing, folding, putting away. The expense justified by all that money I've saved. But this little tiny shopping experience showed me that if I started the year that way, well, I haven't really learned anything from this fast. I just took a break, without actually changing my shopping habits. I did want them to change, for the sake of simplicity, but also to learn what I really loved and used. I will still enjoy that new year shopping spree (only 11 weeks away!!), but hopefully with eyes open to what's really me.
And these other fabric photos? They are my current stash. I was hoping I would get to October and I'd have to pull out some serious creativity to keep making with what's left of my meagre collection. But no. This could keep me going another year. And I'm not saying that out of shame for how much I have, but surprise at how far it goes! Turns out a small bookshelf of yardage and about 200 dresses worth of scraps can make a heck of a lot of quilts.
Wednesday, 9 October 2013
I started feeling my morning sickness fade early last week (Woohoo!), a few days out from the Olive Tree Market. I was SO thankful! And so, in the waiting room for my antenatal appointment, I started to write an excited list of what I wanted to get done before the big day. I have so many ideas of things I could make for great Christmas gifts. And most of the things I have for sale aren't in that easy "hand over your money" price bracket. And ladies wrap skirts! They sold so well in my shop earlier in the year. And people have been asking if make cushions. And kids bags! They'd make great little gifts and my kids love them...
I put my pen down, slowed down my brain and went into my appointment. I answered all the usual questions and waited while the poor older midwife sloooowly typed everything into the computer. I looked at the breastfeeding posters on the walls that I recognised from the '90s when my mum was a midwife in the town where I grew up. I felt slightly uncomfortable with her calling me "Lovey." Then she pointed me over to the bed so she could find the baby's heartbeat. It was the day before our little one we lost earlier in the year would have been due. I stopped breathing so I could listen. After a few movements of the device, she found it, fast and strong, and moved away far too quickly.
We talked for a few moments longer and then she let me go.
I felt silly but the first thing to cross my mind when I heard that heartbeat was, "Oh, that's right! I'm having a baby!" Like it had only taken me 3 days without nausea to forget.
On the bus ride home, I took out my list again. And I decided I needed to change the question from, "What would sell well?" to, "If you have only 6 months of sewing time before the 'wonderful chaos' descends, what would you like to make?" And as much as I'd love to be (or felt like I should be) one of those women so committed to their business, that the first answer they think of is kids' bags and pillows, my answers were very different.
I want to finish the quilt for our bed.
I want to make gifts for friends in our community who will graduate and leave at the end of the year.
I want to make some things for baby.
I want (Tim) to make new sofas (yes, you heard right!).
I want to replace the soft furnishings (curtains and bedding) we were given when we moved in, to make do, with colours that are really me.
And I really, really want to finish my Penny Sampler (which will also fulfil the goal of learning to paper-piece).
So instead of heading home and pulling out my novelty fabric, I went for my box set aside for my favourite Anna Maria Horner prints, which I'd started cutting into strips for these log cabins for our bed. I had this little hope that I could finish the quilt top to display at the market stall, but you know me. That was a tad unrealistic. Tim did however, give me that whole Friday, the day our baby had been due, to hide in the sewing room and play with colour. And I had time to think, to be thankful for this new heart inside me, for this new energy I'd been feeling, and of course, to be sad as well.
And then when I didn't meet my goal, I came up with the idea of displaying all my works in progress on this sheet behind my stall. And I think it looked even better than what I originally had in mind! And even though I still didn't have affordable knick knacks to sell, I did have wonderful conversations with lots of people about my quilts and blocks. It feels like getting a chance to have a little exhibition once a month in the sunshine!
So what about you? If you had six months left to sew, what would you make?
Tuesday, 1 October 2013
I have finished something! Hurray!
After my last post about coming to terms with my possible long term state of morning sickness, I sat down and thought about some radical changes to routine. If my capacity for all the things in my day had shrunk from about 8-10 good hours to about four, I needed to think creatively. And I needed to prioritise.
The best solution I could come up with was making time to sew in the morning, when I was at my best. It's usually the time I spend doing housework and playing with the kids. And then I would sew during rest time and after they were in bed, my little reward, my break from the world. I felt really uncomfortable making sewing time during my 'work hours'. It was hard enough not to drown in the laundry as it is without trying to squeeze in sewing too. So I just sat with the idea for while, waiting to see if a better plan arose.
Well then both my kids got sick and most of you know how that throws any kind of routine straight out the window. Friday night I finally got to sleep at 5am, and we spent the weekend basically in survival mode. I'm so thankful for a friend that cooked enough food to feed us three nights in a row!
I'm also so thankful for Tim. He decided to take Monday off work and stayed home to attack the washing with me, take the kids out for a drive, and give me time to sew.
I managed to finish off this custom order tablecloth.
And having a finish is a great feeling anyway, but while I sat there matching colours, feeding them slowly through my machine, (I was using an overlocking stitch on my sewing machine - great motivation to learn to use my overlocker!) I started to feel an energy and peace I couldn't get from a full night's sleep. And it started to help me feel differently about the way we shape this next season.
I was reminded again that serving my family isn't just making sure the washing is up to date and food is on the table, and it isn't even just making myself available to them, but it's feeding my own soul too. I'd let go of all the things that give me energy to make time for the bare essentials. And I was feeling bare.
And do you know what I've realised (but kind of always known)? My kids play really well together in the morning! They haven't even noticed me tucked away in the studio for an hour. It's the afternoons when they become twitchy, and need to know I'm there, need me to feed and water them more regularly. So I park myself on the back steps while they play outside, ready with fruit and water when they come asking. Maybe this will work longer than just while I'm pregnant?
Oh, and a few notes about the tablecloth. I used mostly fabrics from Notting Hill by Joel Dewberry and Cameo by Amy Butler. Don't they work well together? My customer requested a large style patchwork in bright colours so I had to be choosy about prints that worked well in big cuts that I was happy to let go. Though I do only have three months left in my Fabric Fast, can you believe it?! I used an overlocking stitch to piece them together and folded the edges over twice and used my 1/4" foot to hem them. These colours will be just perfect for Christmas, don't you think? Which has got me thinking that this is a reasonably quick gift to make compared to a quilt...
Friday, 20 September 2013
I think I've been staring at this computer screen for about 20 minutes now. My brain is a fog. It has been for the last two or so months. I'm spending life constantly double-booked, or finding myself on the couch wondering what I was doing, or just giving up and having a sleep. I think whenever I'm pregnant, my body becomes distracted making eyebrows, or whatever it's up to now. I am no longer Jodi. I am a vessel.
I'm thirteen and a half weeks now and I still feel sick most of the time. I felt sick with Tully till around 12 weeks, with Evie till 36. So I'm just starting to process the realisation that this might be me for another five or six months. I was snuggled up in front of the TV with Tully yesterday and one of the shows said, "It's time to let go of your expectations and go with the flow." I felt like it was for me. But OH! I think I find that the hardest thing to do EVER. I've come to that time of the year when the markets are busy, the custom orders are flowing in and I'm starting to write a completely ridiculous list of the Christmas presents I'd like to make. And I'm having a bit of a tantrum about the fact that I'll have to choose.
It makes me really thankful that my friend Jodi has been coming around every Thursday to sew up our friends' Fire Quilt. And yes, I am amused that we share the same name. It's for all the times I wished there were two of me. Although we're not actually that alike. She's very organised, good at maths and never double books herself. Probably makes us quite a good team, really.
I can also rest in the fact that while my ideas for what I could make for the Olive Tree Markets are all amazing, I do have plenty of stock left over from the shop earlier in the year. More is not always more, Jodi.
And this custom order for a patchwork table cloth brings all the fun of BIG piecing without the basting, quilting, binding. When I finish the top, I will actually be finished!
I think I'm the kind of person who takes a couple of months to find a groove in new situations, to decide what my priorities and goals are. At the moment my only goal is to not be ridiculous in my expectations of myself. I'd like them to be better articulated than that, but slowly, slowly. After all, the point of life is not to produce, but to be.
And today being means messaging a bunch of friends to cancel afternoon tea because I won't actually be here, I'll be on my way to Sydney for my Dad's 60th. It means not beating myself up for handing over my brain to my uterus.
Then I'll put on some music and do a very poor job packing for camping, because I can't for the life of me think intelligently about what we'll need. And then I will enjoy being with my family and celebrating my wonderful Dad and not worry about forgetting pillows or toothbrushes.
I do love that I can share this here. Writing is the way I process, remember, move on. Thank you friends. x
Tuesday, 10 September 2013
About a year ago Tim and I were travelling through the New South Wales countryside wondering what the heck had happened to our lives. We had two kids, a toddler and a baby. And while I'd always wanted to be a mum, I missed the adult conversation, mental stimulation and positive feedback of the academic life. Tim missed having a wife who had interesting dinner (and travel!) conversation. You may have read here that I drew hope from the trees and their seasonal life and started to formulate a quilt to express my reflections.
Around the same time, I was reading Maureen's story. At the other end of the 'small children' season to me, and on the other side of the world, she was processing difficult news about her health at the same time as sending her youngest off to school. I was discouraged that this season felt so long, she was grieving that it was over so fast. And her story, a reminder of how much a mother's life changes over and over, connected deeply with me.
So I decided to make that quilt for her, stitching away, praying it would be a blessing, terrified of sending my work to someone I admired so, pushing back the voice the told me not to bother. I don't write this to 'big note' myself. I write it because pushing that voice back felt like the main thing I was doing through it all. So when Maureen wrote to me recently and this amazing quilt arrived in the mail and she told me how much it had meant to her, and how perfect the timing had been (it arrived the day she dropped her daughter off at school!), I felt like that little boy, so long ago, who had given his fish and bread to a master chef, and it was used to give a feast to a crowd.
This beautiful quilt, with the lady that looks like she's waiting for something, and the butterflies fluttering off in freedom, also came right on time for me. Tim and I had found out a couple of months earlier that we were to be officially outnumbered. I have been excited, but if I'm honest, mostly I've been terrified. It feels so ungrateful to say so after losing a little one earlier this year. I'm sure it's partly been hormonal, and partly the result of morning sickness, but also a big old part of me is just scared to go back to that time where I'm constantly tired, working to someone else's rhythm and no longer have life in my control. We'd just hit the stage where Tully could pour milk, butter bread and work the computer. Were we crazy??
Yes, I'd say we are, but Maureen's note encouraged me to remember that I don't have to have full brain capacity or energy levels to love people, be inspired, or grow or enjoy the sunshine and the new leaves budding in our yard as I write.
Thank you Maureen!
Thank you Maureen!
And then today, seeing that tiny heartbeat, knowing it was made to be loved, loved by me! I could feel those fears start to fade. I know there's a crazy, noisy, experiencing too much 2am, road ahead. But I also hope that 3rd time around, I've learned a little patience and grace to remember that my turn for sleep and ease will come in time, and this precious gift will be a wonderful reward.