Monday, 31 August 2009

Quilting Quandary - Part 1

Since my return to Canada, I have been battling a small quilting quandary.

Remember my Flying Birds quilt?


My next class is on the 18th September and in preparation for this session, I am supposed to appliqué the 5" borders around my quilt with a snaking vine, leaf and flower design (using the hand or machine technique of my choice).

First of all, here's a quick word about me and appliqué:

1) I have not attempted to do this before, so I am not feeling very confident (even though I attended a 3 hour class that showed me how to do it)

2) I am extremely unskilled and slow at hand sewing. In fact, I suspect that my skills only rate marginally higher than the hand sewing ability of an animal without opposable thumbs.

The second point becomes a more concrete problem when you consider that my overall quilt top is 37.5" x 48" and you take into account the fact that I preferred our tutor's hand sewn sample over the machine stitched ones produced during our last class.

To start with (in June), I was a bit worried that I might be trying to bite off more than I could chew. So, in order to give myself the best chance of success, I took my fabric and sewing notions with me to the UK in June. I hoped to get a head start and baste all of my appliqué shapes while I was away.

Did I manage it? Nope. True to form (and every previous summer break when I have packed several knitting projects and not ever picked up my needles), I returned to Canada without even unfolding the fabric. Yet as soon as I stepped back through our Canadian front door in mid August, the 18th September deadline started to prick my conscience.

So I duly took off to my studio and, to help me decide whether to blunder on with the hand sewing idea or give in and resort to using my machine, I produced my own appliqué test:


Even though my hand sewing was not great, I was still drawn to the hand sewn blind hem stitch. Okay, so far so good. I had my design, I had done a test and selected a hand sewn stitch. I just needed to get on with it.

So I did. Or at least, I tried. Honestly, I did. However, I came unstuck. I think that I must have suffered a quilting epiphany. It poleaxed me, it did - right at the time, that I needed to be hand sewing a snaking vine and 85 curvy leaf and vine shapes to my blooming quilt (at about the speed of light).

What was my epiphany? Well, it seems that making a quilt is much more of a journey (both in terms of design and head space) than it is a straightforward 'make as instructed' project.

Yep, really. As a result, I have got bogged down and progress has ground to a halt while I try to work out how to move forwards. Not good when you consider that my September class gets closer with every passing hour!

In short, this is what I have come up against:

  1. Design - I was not comfortable with the way that the border design worked visually with the centre of my quilt, after I pinned on the snaking vine
  2. Headspace - my head is in a different and more positive place than when it was when I started working on this quilt. I would like to incorporate something that balances the meaning I managed to sew into this quilt before I went away on holiday.

Bear with me, I do realise that this may take some explaining.

Addressing the Silence

Despite the fact that I am now home (i.e. reconnected to electricity and the internet), I realise that I have been holding myself back from blogging because I have not 'done' the blessing post. I like to present things here as logically and sequentially as possible. As a result, it sort of feels wrong to blog anything else until that has been done - does anyone else suffer from this self-imposed problem?!

However, I realise that I need to get over myself. As I have things to blog that cannot wait for me to sift through and sort out the 2000 or so pictures (4000 image files) that I took while I was in the UK.

Actually, if I am honest, all I have managed to do since my return home is back up my files to an external hard drive - that's it.

Mind you, I do not have very many photos from the 4th July (a bit tricky to wield a DSLR when you are trying to avoid being smothered by a mountain of non-breathable, white plastic fabric). As a result, I put a call out for photos to all our guests after the blessing so that I could fill the gaps in my image set. Although some have arrived (thank you!), others are still promised. So additionally, I sort of feel that I need to wait to see what photos I receive from our guests, so that I can put a complete blog post together?

In the meantime? Onwards with something else - I think I need some input on a project that I am working on (and am struggling with a bit)!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Life in the Basic Lane

I have spent the last six weeks or so staying in a place that does not have any running water, electricity and is about 100 yards from the nearest Ablution Block. I am not complaining by the way, it is waterproof, it does have gas and it does have a few battery powered garden lights. However, when I am staying here? My life becomes quite basic.

Suddenly, the need for power to use a laptop or finding somewhere that has access to the internet is a lot lower down my list of must-haves than a hot steaming cup or tea or coffee!

Instead of planning blog posts, I simply harbour the occasional aspiration to sleep through the night without needing to get up and visit the Ablution Block. This is not the best trek in the middle of the night, particularly if it is pouring down with rain. The Ablution Block is not the most salubrious midnight destination either, it has grimy cement floors, aging curtains, bright neon strip lighting plus a full complement of local moths and biting insects.

So mainly, the most pressing thing on my mind everyday (after working out how to obtain a hot beverage and spend the minimum amount of time in the Ablution Block) is where to find some electricity to charge my mobile phone so that I can sort of stay in contact with the outside world.

Like I said, it is a fairly basic life! So please bear with me - I think that I am due to travel back to Canada next week (I really should check my ticket).

Once I am back, I will go through some of the photos from my trip to see what I can put together about our wedding blessing and the rest of my trip to the UK!