Wednesday 30 December 2015

Charmed I'm sure, I-spy in a Low Volume vibe.

It started like this...  I've been amassing Low Volume (usually the most required fabric in bee & swap blocks!) for a few years now, and keeping my favourites separate.  The very top right of this picture is a stack of charm squares, all different.  This summer, I finally had a concrete vision in my head of what I wanted to do with them!

Never mind all the amazing, complex, beautiful, clever Low Volume quilts I've been admiring for so long, I wanted to sew. And quickly!  Goodness knows how the wonderful mothers I see on Instagram get their children to play by themselves so that they can get some sewing time...  Moo is Monkey Central..  Anyway.  I started with a plan - the simplest sewing I can think of, squares.  Then I thought about Scrappy Trip Around the World quilts, and Scrap Vomit quilts.  Neither quite hit the mark.  But the notion that every print must be different was a hit.  (Lets not bother pretending that had nothing to do with justifying more shopping... )

It took me about 3 weeks to do all my cutting.  Thats how tired and crappy I was over summer...  But when everything was cut, I had the urge to sneak in a few wee blocks too - the odd drunkards path, a four square here and there, a random pinwheel or two, and the ubiquitous Half Square Triangle.  But keeping to a minimum so as not to be obvious.  Cos you know subtlety is so me...  I also decided to have it On Point.   I counted out what a quarter would look like, chucked it on the wall, and with Supergran to assist, I got 4 mornings sewing, three hours a quarter.  

 This was a biggy in my books.  Our new bed is a whopper (well poor man does have to share with me and my 101 symptoms of sleep disorders and hip pain...) so this had to fit.  (and it does, just!).  There was no way I could quilt it though, and you know, I'd never in a million years have done it justice.  I handed it over to the only woman who would.  Ms Trudi Wood.  She's not just a fabulous quilter.  She's a friend.  She is kind, thoughtful, creative, AND a fab quilter!  I explained my quilt to Trudi.  I told her how much I loved it already.  I told her that every print was different, and so many of them said so many different things to me.  I can remember which were used in who's blocks.  I remember which prints were given to me by friends.  I can spot right away the prints which came from the first swap I ran. And then there are the prints I included for Moo.  You see, this quilt will be on my bed.  As Moo grows up, this quilt will be on my bed and no doubt she will join me snuggling under it.  When Moo has a bad dream we will cuddle under this quilt.  When Moo is feeling poorly we will snuggle under this quilt.  There are many, many I-spy squares included for the very purpose of distracting Moo!
Anyway.  I told Trudi everything, and she told me how she could quilt it.  "an all over with a few things hidden in for fun".  What can I say.  She gets me!  She understood completely.  I knew she was the only person who could or should do the quilting for this quilt.  And she excelled herself!!!

Here it is.  As usual my photos are awful but I'm including so many I hope you'll get a feel for it.  Coming in under 100" x 80" it still looks small on the bed!  You can see the all over pattern though, and I'm happy that no one part of it stands out more than the other.

And this is how the little differences pop up!  Gold Birds.  I love that there are quite a few metallic prints in this too.

Meeses and birds and windmills and bicycles and flowers.  Drunkards Path and two of the prints I bleached to soften the colours for this quilt.

Animals, ballerinas, music, gold sparkly triangles.  An HST, a DP and a four square.  

Postcards, butterflys, girls on swings, pussycats!

Alice in wonderland, Kitchen utensils, cookie cutters, bunny rabbits... Pinwheels!

Mermaids, toadstools, foxes, doodles, scooters, fish, frogs and lighthouses...

Stars, cakes, tents!  Flowers, Letters, Red Riding Hood...

There is so much to find in this quilt, and the quilting itself joins in with the game.  I could not possibly love it more.  I hope you like it too.   

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Let's call a spade a spade. Unless it's a shovel. Or a diggy stick. Or a spayspay, or spoospoo...

*warning - another wordy post with little quilting and a few NSFW words*

So man and me, we're sitting on the sofa exhaling deeply after a successful end to the "bedtime" routine (otherwise known as moos mental hour).
"during her bath tonight she did something" man says, looking frankly a bit shifty.

"oh?" says I, thinking either floaty turds or some such malarkey.

"well,"  he says.  "she had the sponge, washing herself, and I said 'now wash your fanny'."
(*for any American readers, in UK fanny refers to vagina*)

"aaaaand?"  I say, not remotely surprised he's asked her to do it herself, as I know he really makes an effort to try to not be awkward about it but....  Blokes!  Anyway.  "aaaand?"

"Well.  She did it."  he says with concern.

"yeaaaaaah."  I say, with a 'so what' implied....

"She did it."  he says.  "She washed her fanny."

"okay,"  I say slowly, "what did you think she'd do?!"

"no," he says, (I'm clearly not getting the point here) "she did it, she knows she's got a fanny" he says, like all should be clear now.

"well of course she knows she's got a fanny!  what the hell are you on about?!"

"no!  She knows its a FANNY.  She knows that word."  He genuinely seems quite troubled.

I'm a bit bemused here I must admit.  "So?  What's the problem there?"

"well!  Isn't that a bit, well, a bit rude?"

Trying not to laugh, as he seems so concerned here, I said "well, I hate to break it to you but she probably knows you've got a willy's just learning body parts!"

"I know, willys not rude though.  I just thought maybe we should have called it something else, that's all."

"Oh so Fanny is rude and Willy isn't?  What else would you call it?"  genuinely curious as to what he'll come up with now...

"well, I call it her funny front bum".

"...?...!....."  give me a minute...  "okay, so do you want her to grow up thinking its funny or peculiar?  Which?!"

"och no, course I dont, I dont know.  I never thought about it like that before."

"Right."  I said, thinking I should reign myself in a bit here and approach this better.  Admittedly I was enjoying myself a bit too much, and when I could see he was being so genuine too...  What a meany.
"I was told it was my 'front bottom', and in our house even 'bum' was considered a swear word.  Other girls thought I was well stuck up.  I didn't want to call it that with my girl.  Sorry, maybe we should have discussed it ages ago, I just didn't see a problem with fanny."

"ach, well, I don't know, I don't really have a problem with fanny" he says  (I'm thinking dont laugh dont laugh dont laugh)  "I just, well, for kids like, arent you meant to call it something less, well. rude?"

Letting the second 'fanny is rude' go, I say "Let's google it.  See what others say."

What followed was a good half hour or so of incredulity, laughter, disbelief...  Confusion, and in my case, ultimately a bit of a ranty strop!

All the googling and forum reading boiled down to this.  There seemed to be two camps.

On one side we have all the foo foo's, the nu nu's, the flower's, the Mary's (wtf?!), the Moo moo's (oh dear god we nicknamed our daughter a term for genitalia?  Way to traumatise her...), the lady garden's, the bits, the bitsies, the lady bits, the girl parts, the fuff, the gina, the china, the foof, the area, the minnie (what would mickey say?!) the ninnie (in Scotland a ninny is an idiot!), the twinkle (like the little star we sing of?!), the tuppence, the tuppy, the v-jay jay....  I could go on, but if my eyes roll any more they are likely to spin out of the sockets.
I don't wish to offend you if one of the above is yours.  Its a very personal thing, isn't it.  Each to their own!  But me?  I simply couldn't use any of them with a straight face.  Neither could man. (phew!).

On the other side, the straight forwards camp, we have the vagina, the vulva and the labia.
I find these a bit cold.  Correct they may be, but I'd only use them with a doctor...  I get the point though.  Sensible argument - a toe is a toe, a knee is a knee.  I'm more in agreement with a commenter who said "and do you tell her to wipe her anus?!!!"   Precisely.  Again man and I are in agreement (rare thing!), its a tummy not a stomach, its a bum not a posterior, and neither of us are inclined to want to say vagina to a two year old....

However.  This is where I got a bit ranty....  Both camps with their completely opposite names, both camps seemed to agree on one thing.  Apparently, Fanny is a bit rude.  But Willy isnt.


Why is fanny more rude than willy?

Why are we raising girls to be more self conscious and uncomfortable about their fanny than boys would be about their willy?

This inevitably brought me round to a favourite rant of mine, one which man has heard before, many times.  Why is the universally accepted most rude and offensive swear word CUNT?  I disagree with it's use as a derogatory term full stop, but the fact that its seemingly the most offensive of all cursing winds me up no end.

At the end of all our googling, man looked at me with a twinkle... "go on, join the forum, tell them you're telling our daughter it's a CUNT.  You know you want to...  Go on...."

I'm only too sorry to say that I didn't.  But I dont think thats the last of the gender equality discussions me and man will have now we have our Moo.  Not by a long shot!

Anyway.  To lighten things I'll leave you with this for fun.  Many would say it's one who dresses far too young for her age and another just doesn't dress enough!  I disagree.  I see two strong independent women who are always fighting to teach young girls (and the rest of the world!) to love their bodies and not fear their sexuality.  And ppfftt to all that, they do damn good pop too.

Miley Cyrus
“I don’t get the violence revenge thing. That’s supposed to be a good example? And I’m a bad role model because I’m running around with my titties out? I’m not sure how titties are worse than guns.” 

Friday 23 October 2015

tracks of my week...

My esteemed bloggy buddy Lynz has been doing some fabulous posts under the heading "tracks of my years".  Not wishing to inundate you with hours and hours (months more likely) worth of tunes, I'm sticking with tracks of my week...

Either 1984 or Jan 85, either way I was 6 years old.  Its Sunday night.  I'm in bed already hiding my cassette recorder under my pillow in order to listen in to the UK Top 40 (quite unbeknown to me I was following in my fathers footsteps!).  I can still remember screaming into my pillow and kicking my feet with excitement to hear this...

Phew!  What a hunk!  It's been in my head all week as I keep hearing a cover by Hot Chip.  Now this is a bit geeky maybe, but I've had it in my head that there was a cover version of it in the charts at the same time as Bruce, as I remember being absolutely furious at the cheek of it!  I was assuming I'd dreamt this, but some googling has actually verified this!  The things you remember eh.  Apparently this wasnt my first popstar crush either, as Eddy Grants' "I dont wanna dance" was 1982 and my parents say I was nuts about him....

I finally succumbed to Netflix.  Its been so awesome!  I'm useless at watching stuff these days, cant stay awake at all if I'm simply sitting watching something, but sitting at the desk in the sewing room I can cut fabric and watch the laptop with reasonable success.  Yay!  No fingers lost yet either!
I really enjoyed a movie by my beloved Belle & Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch, "God help the girl".  This lovely wee tune in particular has enchanted me.

I remember in my teens my dad telling me an article he'd read said we stop listening to new music in our twenties.  It claimed the average person spent their life listening to whatever they chose between 14-24.  Oh how we laughed.  Not us.  No way.
Well, dad did fantastically well, embracing new tunes well into his 50's and only leaving pop because his hearing went.  Me?  Hmmm.  Honestly lucky to hear a handful of songs in a year that are new and bearable!  This however, is a rare thing - a current track that I actually love!

Sunday 18 October 2015

Its my Prozac....

My buddy the littlest thistle did a fascinating blog post recently and asked  "Why?".  This is my response.

Why do I create?

"Why?" is a question that had never entered my mind!  It's just, well, it's what you do, isnt it?  It was in our house.  One of my earliest memories is an afternoon with mum - the sewing machine out on the dining table, cups of tea, Cliff Richard's Rock and Roll LP on the record player, Mum at the table making and me fannying about doing the twist standing on the piano stool...   What was mum making?  Well, it might have been the time she made me a skirt and waistcoat combo.  Or the time she made an outfit to match it for my ragdoll Annie.  Or it might have been the time of the evening gowns for Sindy dolls.  Or the time we made a whole picnic - sandwiches, cakes, cream buns - out of foam offcuts and felt.  Or the bedding for my teddies bed.

Mum was always at it.  I remember practicing our Macrame with dressing gown ties in my parents bed.  I remember my favourite picture from their stack of National Geographic Magazines wasnt animals, it was someone who had built their spherical house out of old aluminium cans, windows out of bottles, the odd dolls face cemented in here and there.  I remember being allowed to help scrape the paint off an old dresser with a blowtorch.  I remember watching armchair cushions being recovered.  I actually struggle to remember furniture in our house that hadn't been recycled and revamped!  I remember blowing eggs and watching mum cut doors into them and attach teeeeeny tiny little hinges.  I remember the sugar work - making tiny petals to mould into roses.  The easter eggs we made with moulds and melted chocolate.  The baskets of Marzipan Fruits.  I remember going with mum to my school after hours to sit in on the pottery class she took.  We made candles.   Mum knitted jumpers (until my brother and I broke the machine).  I can picture the kitchen table covered in a production line of wee wooden clothes peg dolls.  My brother making a Frank Sidebottom Head with chicken wire and paper mache....  One of my favourite places was the box room, full of mums crafty bits and fabric scraps in old tea chests.   Our utility room was seldom without something or other drying out by the boiler or fermenting under the sink.

Making stuff was totally normal in our house!

Why do I create in this particular medium?

Thinking about it all, I suppose my quilting is more "nesting" than anything particularly artistic.  I've never felt at ease with doing "art".  Unique ideas are not my forte!  I can see what I like and alter it, adjust it, redo it and make it mine, but I've never been any good at starting from scratch.  If I had a normal persons energy and fitness I'd love to be restyling furniture.  That would have been my ideal, but I am not up for it physically.  Too much exertion required with all that sanding!  To be honest actual machine quilting is often a bit of a struggle too.

I started with bag making, and a hope to learn dressmaking, and a sideline in ragdolls.  I don't think I'm cut out for bag making though, I don't like the noises even a good machine makes as you attempt to gently squeeze half a dozen layers under the needle...  I cant cuddle up under a bag either.  The dolls have not been shelved for good, I will make for Moo at some time, but without a prospective owner there just isn't the point in making.  And dressmaking.  Well.  Lets just say that the yardage required these days makes the prospect pretty bloody expensive and patterns hard to come by.  My desire has waned...
However, quilting appeals to me in so many ways.  Not least the thought of a house full of home made pretty blankets!  I want them on the walls, the sofas, the chairs, the beds - there's currently one spread out over the coffee table like a table cloth!
Before Moo came along I was setting up to take it all very seriously.  Good stash.  Computer Aided Design program.  Passion and dozens of ideas.  I was hoping to publish some patterns.  I was dreaming of getting in magazines and the like.  Possibly contribute to a craft fair every now and again.  Do the odd Linus quilt.

Where I am now?

Please don't misunderstand me, I am so thrilled to have my Moo, it simply would have been nice to find out if I could have done it.  I could not possibly give quilting up now though, however little I can squeeze in.  Every single aspect, even the parts I'm not so keen on, has value to me.  It gives me something to think about during the night hours I cannot sleep through.  It gives me excitement to plan, and yes, to stash...  The cutting is hard.  It can take days depending on my energy levels.  The piecing is a thrill, my biggest fault is probably rushing through the piecing and not necessarily going back and fixing scant seams....I cant help it, I enjoy it so I want to get as much done in one sitting as possible before tiredness and or Moo intervenes!  Brushing aside the difficulties in basting and quilting, the binding is a joy.  It is simple, relaxing, and a warm (literally!) anticipation of having the finished, squishy, cosy, pretty quilt finished.

I don't feel that saying "it makes me happy" sufficiently covers it!  When I go through weeks of no sewing it brings me down.  Depression seems to be a bit of a side effect for Narcoleptics.  Not too hard to understand I think, I mean, feeling tired all the time sucks.  From the time I wake up to the time I say goodnight I've usually had at least two separate hour or so long naps.  Some days it feels like I only got up to feed!  Squeezing in even a little bit of sewing gives me just enough of a boost to feel human.  These days my quilting goals are simple.  Keep up with Brit Bee, and sew what I want for me.  Selfish sewing.  If I'm still awake when Moo is of bigschool age, then things might change.  For now, for me, and my beloved Moo, I may not do as much as I like, but I aim to really like doing as much as I am able.