Autumn Block 53 (and allotment)

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Finished this a while ago, but I’m a bit all-over-the-place craftwise. I think I’ve now 11 left to make. I’ve now used up the last of the olive green rosehip fabric which I’m pleased with as it would be a shame to waste it. Getting the other pieces to match was a bit of a struggle but the fussy-cut pumpkins came to the rescue again. I slightly dread to think how many blocks I’ve used that fabric in; maybe it’s not as many as I think…

I’ve finished the LeMoyne Star placemat and sent it down to my parents on Saturday, so it won’t have arrived yet. I’ll wait to post about it until Mum’s received it! I may alternate and do one autumn block, one placemat, that will keep my interest piqued (I hope). However, I’m doing a lot of knitting and finding time at the weekend to design a new autumn block is proving to be tricky because I’m spending a lot of time in the allotment. So many weeds, so little time! We’ve visitors coming for tea on Sunday p.m. so I’ll no doubt be doing mad tidying and cleaning beforehand. This is how my mind workds – in preparation for that I have finished the front of one of the two jumpers I’m knitting, so I can put it away and it’s one less thing cluttering up the table in our living room! I really don’t like the jumper but have now ‘only’ the sleeves to do, so I’ll go back to them later, probably next year. I want to finish my multi-coloured jumper first, then start on a cardigan I’m knitting Dad for Christmas.

It’s exciting to see the allotment produce starting to come through, after a colder and wetter June than normal. Last year was baking hot which I hated more, and I suppose you can’t win either way. I’m happy my third attempt at nurturing a pumpkin seedling to teenager-hood has worked – so far, I don’t want to curse it! I’ve had a bad year for pumpkin and squash seedlings, they’ve gone leggy, got whitefly, snapped…. I think I’ve lost at least 4 that had got as far as being planted in the soil outside. I’ve one ‘winter squash’ that needs to get bigger and stronger before it can go in the soil, but otherwise I think that what’s planted is all there is to go in the ground, just have to keep feeding and watering! Planted lots more flowers this year and am enjoying those, even if some of them (roses mainly) went ‘splat’ in all the rain we had. One nasturtium I grew from seed and nearly lost is now rampant (the orange flowered plant in the photo) and has almost swallowed the beans.

Bad idea

I started making this. It is revolting! I don’t know what I was thinking. As I near the end I wanted to use this pumpkin fabric, because I’ve made one block with a little bit of it in and thought I should make at least one more with it in so that block wasn’t alone. I thought all of this was okay except the four little squares in the centre block-within-a-block and eventually decided these were the best I can do. But yuck! In the light of day, this has to come apart. Maybe I can swap another fabric for these centre four and it will be okay, but I’m not convinced. I’ve known this in my heart of hearts for days but just haven’t acted on it. At least I know what I’ll be doing on the commute home tonight (provided I have a seat). What I don’t think I’ll be doing is taking apart any more flying geese, the cream and the dark orange are being re-used as it is and are a bit frayed. But I do wonder if the dark brown is too dark here, and if I still think that when I’ve tried replacing the four little squares I may have to change the centre and outer squares too.

Yuck

Two more autumn blocks with fussy cutting, but also some unwelcome news

Since my last post things have all been ‘a bit much’. I’d designed two blocks in a weekend and worked slightly obsessively to finish the first one by the end of Wednesday, absolutely record progress for me as I was so keen to get on and have the blocks finished by this coming autumn. I wanted to make one using the new prairie cactus fabric that was my latest fabric crush, though it somehow turned out that the fabric I thought went best with it was the foxy / nature / woodland one, which I also like but the overall effect is a bit gloomy; maybe more woodland than autumn, though it does have the word ‘harvest’ on the fabric somewhere! (The curvature is down to my non-existent photography skills). The fabric the central star is made of is one I bought ages ago but hadn’t found the right combination of other fabrics to use it with until now.

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So it was all going quite well, then I started feeling ill with what turned out to be the ‘flu, all my muscles and joints aching so that moving around hurt for days and even sewing seemed too much effort! In retrospect I’m glad ‘flu was ‘all’ it was, because after days of this I started mulling over what it must be like to have M.E… I’m a glass half-empty kind of a person.

On the Friday the estate agent that manages the flat we rent phoned me just after lunch to say that our landlords want their flat back, so the estate agents would be delivering the letter next week to say we’ve two months to move out. This was bad news because moving costs a lot in the UK and estate agents have fees for everything. The rental market moves quickly and is very expensive where we live, so it would mean finding a property in an area we’d like and where I can get the train to work (something else that is eye-wateringly expensive) and my husband can drive to work in the opposite direction. We need to pay a deposit on a new place, with an overlap paying rent on the place we’re in til the end of March as per the contract while paying rent for the new place, estate agents fees for taking the property off the market and making a tenancy agreement, paying for the inventory on the new place, and this awful clause on our current place whereby you have to pay to have the curtains dry-cleaned and the carpets and oven professionally cleaned and provide receipts to prove it. And of course the costs of moving our furniture. These are massive outlays but so much worse when you’re not expecting it and it didn’t feature in your budget – the fabric I wouldn’t have bought in the January sales if I’d known! Anyway, with that on top of the ‘flu when I had to take time off work because all I could do was sleep through the day but wasn’t able to sleep at night for coughing, I couldn’t summon up the energy to do any patchwork and it went on hold. I lost my sense of taste for 5 days too! Almost wish it wasn’t back because then I wouldn’t be comfort-eating chocolate. I did finish the gold stitching on my cross stitch cushion cover, and did a bit of knitting.

The ‘flu is almost gone now, I just need to wake up each morning without a sore throat and stop coughing. We flat-hunted on Saturday and saw nothing nice, but out current estate agent phoned to say they wanted to give us first refusal on a flat in the village next to the one where we currently live, that they’d been given instructions for but hadn’t advertised yet. We were fortunate to be able to arrange to see it first thing on Tuesday morning (I’m making up the time I took off work) and though not ideal, in the light of what we knew from searching is available on our budget (i.e. nothing will tick all the boxes) we said we’d take it. We haven’t anything in writing from the estate agents yet so I hope nothing is wrong, but I know from last time they can be pretty slow. I know I’m feeling better because I’ve started sewing again! I just finished the second of these two blocks last night.

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The colours on the second one are almost identical to the last one I did with this pumpkin fabric, just the tan blenders are different. Writing that makes me realise I’d intended to do the corners in the green leafy fabric (like the light cream one here) but have done them in brown instead by mistake, not sure how that happened. Oh well, not changing it now. Before I felt unwell I’d fussy-cut the pumpkin fabric for the outside edge flying geese, and worked from there to choose colours for the rest of it. I’m not so keen on the element of the fabric that has  gold-coloured acorns on it, but never mind. I hope tonight to finish the back of the jumper I’ve been working on, and at the weekend to sew the back of the cushion cover on. I did cut the pieces for that last weekend, but couldn’t face setting up the sewing machine. Moving flat has motivated me to work on the jigsaw that’s been sitting on a jigsaw board under the sofa for the past year (or is it more?), which I’ve taken out only periodically because of not having enough light in the winter evenings and because of it being a really difficult one! I think I won’t get so much sewing done at weekends because I want to finish it, even on a jigsaw board with zip-up cover it’ll still come apart when moved around so finishing it would be better, and I think I’ll give it away afterwards because it was so hard I don’t think I’ll do it again, though I often do keep jigsaw puzzles to redo (yet something else I feel guilty about when it comes to me having ‘too much stuff’). Oh dear, my list of things I want to do before have to pack up everything keeps getting longer…

Two autumn blocks and two new fabrics

Phew, I’ve finished two more blocks for my autumn quilt. I really wanted to make one using one of the scenes from a pumpkins fabric that I’m using for fussy cutting so started with that at the centre.

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I love the oak leaf motif fabrics, and the sparkly orange has proved so much more useful than I thought; when I bought it I wasn’t sure I’d use it at all but in fact have gone back and bought two more fat quarters in case I run out. I chose the fabrics for this first block before Christmas but didn’t start sewing til the New Year, was making great progress on the middle square – or so I thought – then realised just as I got into bed one night that not only had I sewn green where orange should be, I’d sewn the pieces on upside down to how I’d planned! Unpicking and resewing set me back a day, so I only finished it last Monday.

I’m having New Year enthusiasm to crack on with this and would love to have all the blocks finished this autumn, so worked hard to finish the second one, having planned most of it at the weekend in what few hours of daylight there were available in this gloomy winter.

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It’s been lunchtimes as well as commuting time and evenings, and maybe I’ve been a bit too focused, but am glad they’re done. I’m pleased with the fabric used at the small squares at the corners of the middle square, it was pure fluke, purchased when I was getting some red fabric for another project I’m planning and just struck me as being nice, but then when I was struggling to get the right fabric for those corners I thought I’d try it and I think it works well. I want to make my next block using it for the background of the eight flying geese round the edges, not least because I’m getting concerned I’m using the same fabric in that position for all my recent blocks, as for these two (it’s from the Moda Thistle Farm range). It’s such a good shade for a background but I don’t want to have more of it than anything else – plus, I’ll run out. The bold patterned fabric with the chrysanthemums on a brown background was a gamble, but I think it works well here, though I think I’ll be using it very selectively.

I’ve also been getting on with my cross stitch cushion cover and am nearly there except I’m using gold thread for overstitching now and it takes forever. Also working on jumper in a Noro yarn, but there just aren’t enough hours in the non-working part of my day! Monday tomorrow, yuck….

 

 

Changing seasons

We went on holiday to the North Pennines a month ago, but it doesn’t feel so long ago; so much crafting has been going on since then! Before we left, I finished this autumn jumper, in Rowan British sheep breeds boucle:

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It’s perhaps a size too big (the last two having been a size smaller than I would have liked it seems this time I over-compensated), but I like it.

I took projects with me on holiday that I can’t do on the train so don’t get much attention unless I’m on leave… an ‘extreme knitting’ rug, the quilt back and leaf shapes to do applique, and my cross stitch cushion cover. Also the pieces for the next autumn block, the wool to knit snowmen Christmas tree decorations, and even some pieces to make cathedral window Christmas tree ornaments. Good to have a choice! In the end, I focussed on the cross stitch, though mostly when on the long car journey, and the rug. Neither are finished, but are close, if I could have continued to focus on them when I got back.

Had some nice days when away…

And some less nice…

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… but it was great to be away.

When we got back, I did finish the autumn block:

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This reused the dark orange fabric in the centre that came from a block I’d dismantled, and used most of what’s left of a fabric I bought on ebay at the beginning of the project and which is best used for ‘fussy cutting’ because the motifs aren’t close together. It is an old fabric, thin and frays easily, so I’m a bit worried about how long it will last in the quilt. It’s quite hard to sew fabrics of different thicknesses together and I know this has ‘issues’! The tan coloured fabric is Moda and is very useful for autumn projects.

A last burst of colour in a London park a couple of weeks ago  (complete with dustbin, sorry!):

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Since then, I’ve been working on a Christmas present which I really need to have finished by this coming Friday, when I’m getting the train to stay with my family for a bit as sadly I won’t see them at Christmas, so if I have it finished in time I can take it with me rather than trusting it to the post. It uses the sewing machine so really I can only do it at weekends – evenings in an emergency but I’m tired when I get home from work and make mistakes – but these last few weekends have been busy, with my husband’s family visiting and other things, so it’s not gone as smoothly as I’d have liked. I should finish it by working on it these next few evenings, it’s just something I’ve never done before so I’m doing a lot of reading and re-reading of instructions!

Then these little fellows have kept me occupied… They had to be delivered to church yesterday, to be put with other items to be sold at the church Christmas Tree Festival next weekend. So early! I feel like Christmas is over with before Christmas Day is even in sight, it’s so confusing and the day itself a bit of an anti-climax, I guess that’s getting older but with no children of my own – sorry, that’s a bit depressing. I’ll have to get used to it, because that’s the way it’s going to be now, best make the most of it. My in-laws will come to us on Christmas Day so at least it’s not just the two of us. I’ll try not to stress out about the cooking, when people are older they have fixed likes and dislikes which take precedence and that makes me anxious, but I should calm down and try to get a sense of perspective, because it’s okay really. At least on home turf I can have a glass of wine with Christmas dinner, which they don’t do. Anyway, here are the finished snowmen, which took me an insane amount of time to finish, the earliest I went to bed each night last week was 11, past midnight some nights, and I get up for work at 5.50. Crazy little snowmen!

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Different fussy-cut pumpkins (and more sparkle)

I feel more inspired now that autumn is kicking in.

I was looking for ways to re-use the green and brown fabrics here that I’d rescued from blocks that hadn’t worked and I’d taken apart, so after much fiddling about with different options – as usual – I eventually came up with this one. The pumpkin fabric is from a piece I bought in the clearance section of a website and at first I’d discounted it because most of the motifs are too big for what I’m doing, but then I thought I could do as for the last block and ‘fussy-cut’ small pieces out of it. It does lead to wasted fabric, but worth it for this and not so bad when it’s on sale. Maybe the centre square could have been a different fabric, but a big block of something plain in the centre sometimes looks a bit too stark. I do realise my pattern now seems to be to use these plain pieces in shades of tan for the background of the flying geese and don’t want to do too many of them, but I think it’s okay for now.

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I’ve  made slower progress on finishing this block because I’ve been working on a machine-stitched project at home. Top secret so pictures after Christmas! I’ve got as far as making the quilt sandwich and doing one line of quilting, but ran out of thread! It was just as well because that was Sunday and this coming Saturday morning we’re leaving for a week’s holiday so I wanted to spend Sunday afternoon (after my driving lesson) choosing colours for the next block so I can sew it while we’re away, and if I hadn’t run out of machine quilting thread I might not have stopped then I would be holiday-block-less.

I’ve also bought the backing piece for the quilt. It came yesterday so I washed it and it is still on the dryer as we speak – it’s rather large so drying it on my free-standing electric dryer is awkward, but we don’t use the tumble dryer due to expense and have nowhere outside to hang things (it’s raining anyway). My plan is to applique leaf shapes on it which will be made out of autumn fabrics. That way I can use some that I bought online but have turned out to not be the right shade, or were early mistakes. I think it should look good and removes difficulties of the seams of pieces making up the back not lining up with quilting lines, but it will take a long time and is not exactly something I can do on the train, so I thought I’d get a head start and alternate doing that at home with making up blocks on the daily commute. At least, that’s the plan!

I think this is block 33 and I’m looking at a 8×10 block quilt… so only 47 to go! I don’t know if I can get my head round that.

The estate agent through whom we rent our flat is coming to do a flat inspection while we’re both out at work tomorrow. I don’t like people looking around while we’re not there but there’s nothing I can do. I’ve been on a washing, ironing, and dusting spree because I don’t want to have laundry hanging around while she’s in there, so more ironing tonight, hoovering, tidying of the baskets of fabric and piles of paperwork (and hiding of candles! Not that our contract says we can’t have them but you never know)… by the time I’ve done all that, then on Thursday and Friday actually do some packing, I’ll be so whacked I’ll probably be too tired to make the most of being away. Hope not, because we’re going north and I’m looking forward to fresher airs and if it isn’t cloudy every day seeing some stars. Too much light pollution as well as air pollution down south.

Decisions, decisions (3 new blocks)

I wanted to use more of this rather colourful fabric, so that the one block I’d already made using it wouldn’t look quite so lonely. I decided on the inner part of the block quite quickly, but it took several attempts to make the outer part look right. The final choice is here (top row still to be ironed down when the photo was taken):

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I’d decided on this one (below) at first, but although I liked the alternating greens and reds on the outside, I thought that the way they sat alongside the reds and greens on the inside created a bit of a messy shape. I’d already sewn most of the edge strips together, apart from the corner squares, so have kept them to use in another block, still to be decided.

 

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These were some of the other possibilities:

 

I finished it just before I took the train north to stay with my family for a few days, so before I left I designed another block and all but one element of another one, and took the pieces and squares with me, including three alternative fabrics for the undecided element of the last block. I finished the first one while I was there and a good portion of the other one, having decided on the final piece with the help of my Mum, and finished it yesterday!

The plain orange in this was bought because I couldn’t find any more of the plain dark tan fabric in the first block shown here. I got it as part of a fat quarter bundle but would like to buy it as an item on its own, seeing as I haven’t used some of the other fabrics in the bundle. The orange is good within individual blocks, but when I laid them all out last night and stood back to look, the whole thing appears very orange, so I’d best resume the hunt for the dark tan.

I know I’d now best make some more blocks in plainer fabrics, but my attempts to lay some out last night using the fabric I have didn’t get very far.