Tuesday, April 4

I am such a slacker – the weeks just keep racing by and I never seem to get to blog.



Well, it didn’t get off to a great start, what with the non existent induction training, and total brain overload caused by a week of intense (mostly useless) technical training. And when I was eventually (forced, against my better judgement) on the phones on day 8 of working, I was buddied with a person who yelled at me, and gesticulated wildly at things on the computer screen while I was attempting to talk to a customer. Sigh. It didn’t end well. I felt like I was set up to fail, and that is what happened.


While I and the small group of other new starters were having belated induction training, the head honcho of the entire business line dropped in to see how we were going. So we told him. He was not happy, which reassured me somewhat that not all the managers were complete twits. And I have to say that the expectations and training were drastically altered so we could learn at our own pace and practice skills. Hopefully things will change for the next group of new starters. We’ll see.

As part of the probation and performance requirements, I had to achieve 95% accuracy and maintain it for 2 weeks. This little requirement had been freaking me out, but I have (miraculously!) managed to achieve this already, which has been a great confidence boost. Now I just have to work on the other requirements like, playing well with others and stuff. I think I’ll be OK.


Did I mention that I have been on a diet? I can’t remember. Anyway, I have lost 13 kilos so far. I have never, ever, ever managed to lose weight on purpose in my entire life. Mainly because I am not fond of the exercise. So I have made a big effort to walk on a regular basis. When I first started, I could only walk for 15 minutes and I would get killer cramps down my legs because I was so unfit. The last bit of hill to get back to the house used to just about kill me, and little old ladies used to overtake me. But now I can do 30 minutes easily, and no leg cramps, so my fitness is much improved. I draw the line at walking though, I have no desire to do any other exercise.

I have also managed to eliminate (mostly) sugar, and have drastically reduced fatty foods. Actually, since I started work in January, I have been buying Lean Cuisines instead of cooking anything, both for the convenience and low fat levels. I do have a fondness at the moment for hot cross buns, so I don’t know what I’m going to do once easter is over.

And the best bit is, of course, The Clothes I Can Now Fit In!

I tried on a pair of size 16 jeans, with not much hope that they would fit me, but they were the only size left. And they fit! But they did make my bum look big so I didn’t buy them, and instead got some straight leg jeans which were a lot more flattering.

I’m trying not to buy too many things yet, because I still want to lose 10 or so more kilos.

I have forgotten how to find my pictures on Picasa, so I will try and upload some pictures later in the week. I bought Robbi Ecklow’s book – which is excellent, by the way. Lots of great information and ideas on dyeing, quilting, design – and I started making one of her designs so I could try some different techniques. I’ve started quilting it already, which as you know is my favourite part of the quilting process.

I want to try some of her still life ideas next, so I am on the lookout for unusual shaped vases and cups and things.

Thursday, January 12

old quilts

I was looking in the linen cupboard the other day, and I found some quilts that I made a couple of years ago. I still like this one, even though the quilting is a bit ordinary to me these days. I've been using it to pull over my legs when it is a bit cool in the mornings - most nights a sheet is enough but occassionally it is a little bit cool at 4 am. I think I used a thin poly batting, so it isn't very warm.

But I think I like the back more now - I used to piece backs for quilts, mostly to cut down on the cost of buying meters of fabric to make them. These days I prefer to not piece backs for a couple of reasons - the extra seams can add bulk/lumps for one, and it is a little more difficult to keep everything on grain (so it hangs flat - V V important to the Quilt Police, oops, I mean Quilt Judges).

The strippy bits were left over from the piecing of the star, and I added in a couple of what I then considered to be "dogs". Who knew that I would now be pining for a bit of that Ice Cream Cone Fabric? I know that there isn't any left - probably not in the entire world. oh well.....

I've started the quilting on this one - I'm finding it pretty slow going because I am doing a lot of colour changes (although I just quilt with one colour until the bobbin runs out and then switch to another colour to stop it from getting too boring). I am matching the thread colour to the fabric and basically doing little texture things that will be noticeable up close, but won't be so visible from a distance. The blocks are so busy that any fancy stuff would be - and I quote Karen K Stone herself here - "lipstick on a pig".

Meanwhile, I have a constant battle to keep The Management off my seat and out of sewing space. It is a losing battle, every day.

BTW - does anyone else have a cat that hates being brushed? These two H.A.T.E. being brushed, but they have so much loose hair in their coats it is flying around in clumps on the floor and I swear I have enough to make a whole 'nother cat. I bought a thingy that looks exactly like a fish scaler and it is excellent for getting the loose hair out of their coats, but I have to rassle with them every time I try it. They are not easily "persuaded", to say the least.

Monday, January 9

I got it!

I got the job I wanted!

I had the interview last week, and I can never gauge how I've done in an interview. Maybe OK, but then I go over every little thing and think I didn't really answer things well.

Originally, the starting date for this job was supposed to be today, so I was expecting to hear by last Friday on whether or not I was sucessful. I didn't hear anything, so I have spent the whole weekend moping around and beating myself up for passing on the other (not as well paid, private sector) job. And it was all for nothing!

Turns out they moved the starting date back to the 23rd (there are about 10-12 new starters, so they have a whole induction schedule set out).

So, if you are unlucky enough to have a C*ntrelink debt, you can expect me to call you to discuss your repayment options!

Finished, well almost finished.

I've finished all my blocks. I was on a gruelling 3-blocks-a-day regime at the end, because the end was in sight and I wanted to get to the quilting. And with each block taking me about 3 hours to finish, that's a whole heap of sitting in front of the sewing machine. Luckily I have nothing better to do with my time at the moment!

Here's the finished top:

I'm quite pleased with how it has turned out - I managed to use some of the "dogs" from my fabric collection. You know the ones - the odd fabrics that don't fit in with anything else. And I have some doozies that I dragged out of storage. Like the skull and crossbones fabric that I had for a pirate quilt I made for Nick a few years ago. Where else would I be able to use that?

Look what I found for the back:

This bee-yoo-ti-full fabric was in the cheap bin at Spotlight, can you believe that? I love it - the colours aren't quite as accurate in the photo, but what's not to like about hot pink background with red circles and orange middles? Apparently I am in the minority, because there were about 6 or 7 bolts of this lovely in the cheap bin. I helped out as much as I could and bought 6 metres (I only really needed 4 for the quilt back), but for $6 a metre, I'll take a few extra metres home.

I'm a bit stuck on how to quilt this - there aren't really any close ups of the quilting for Cinco de Mayo in the book. I hate that! I don't know whether to go with an all over pattern or if I should custom quilt each block (or even sections of blocks).

Wednesday, December 28

a few more blocks

So far I have made about 18 of these blocks - so I am halfway to a quilt top.

I accidentally started using starch while I was pressing the separate units - I don't normally use starch for piecing, but it is making a big difference in how flat I can press, and makes the fabric hold it's shape really well, which is important seeing as most of the edges are off grain. I have dragged out a heap of "hard to use" prints for this, and they are working really well - and where else would I be able to use skull and cross bones fabric?

I get really stuck trying to not pick "matching" fabrics for these - I'm getting better but I cannot bring myself to use brown prints. The original quilt has them, and they look good, but I can't get past my aversion.

For Trish, who sent me a comment earlier - I use a normal domestic machine for quilting, a Janome MemoryCraft 4800 that I have had for about 6 years. Although I would like to upgrade to the 6500, because it has a wider throat space, which would make it easier to stuff more quilt under the arm of the machine. Next Christmas, maybe!

Friday, December 23

For a while now I have been ogling Karen K Stone's Cinco de Mayo, and I decided that I would buy the EQ5 software for myself for Christmas. I thought about buying the book as well, but decided I didn't really need both. Well, the software arrived last week and I got started:

I am pretty confident with paper piecing - but! - there are Y shaped seam lines in some of the blocks (on the little frames around the pointy triangles in this block). I don't get it. How am I supposed to do that with paper piecing - and I'll bet the answer is in the book, which I didn't buy. Oh well. I have worked out a solution that I am happy with - my points have a little tuck in them, which you probably can't see in the photo, and isn't really all that noticeable on the actual block.

I am using some of the wilder pattern prints that I have acquired over many years and subsequently found very difficult to use. I tend to buy for prints for texture now - there might be few little patterns, but for the most part the fabric can be classified as a purple, or a green etc. So the multicoloured novelty type prints that I have don't get used much, and neither do the various bali batiks that I have been buying for years and rarely use.

I'm averaging about 3-4 hours to make a block, and they are working out pretty well so far.

I am all finished with Christmas preparations - nothing else to buy, wrap or pick up. Which is just as well as we are having a heat wave - 36c!! - and I do not want to leave the airconditioned luxury of my loungeroom. But now I can't decide whether or not to cook on Christmas day - we don't really do traditional Christmas food (because we don't like it), but I was going to make roast pork for dinner with baked potatoes and gravy, and a baked cheescake for desert. (My arteries are clogging up just thinking about it!) The kids won't care one way or another - there is plenty of other junk food for them to eat, and we have a ham as well. Decisions, decisions..........

On the job front......

I originally applied for a job with a v. v. large government department, went throught the assessment centre process and didn't make it to the next round of interviews. OK. I then interviewed for another job with a small private company. Which I got last week and am due to start on the 4th of January. Yesterday, the recruitment agency rang me back and asked if I was still interested in interviewing for the first role. On the 4th of January. ARGH!!!! What am I gonna do? I really want the government job - it is more money, better conditions and much better career prospects. But - it is only an interview, not a definite offer. I think the recruiters slipped up a bit - the girl who rang me didn't know about the second job I had been offered (via their agency). But I have told her I definitely want to interview for the government job, and I am hoping to negotiate a later starting date with the other job if it doesn't work out, because I don't want to muck them around either. And it's CHRISTMAS and everything is closing down for a week, so I will get no answers for a while. Bugger.

Although, on the corporate wardrobe front, I did manage to buy a pair of shoes that likely won't slice my poor feet to ribbons when I walk in them, so that's a bonus.

Sunday, December 18

Finished! I've just finished the binding on this and only have to sew down the hanging sleeve and I'm done. And much as I like the front of this quilt, I'm equally fond of how the back has turned out. I think I'll use some more plain fabrics for backing - the quilting patterns are interesting on their own.

It's Christmas! I'm sure you know what that means, yes, that's right - it's time for the cats to destroy the Christmas tree again. Actually, if I'd had my way, I don't think I would have even bothered with the tree. Afterall, I still have 3 santas sitting on top of the TV from last year, so no one can accuse me of not making any effort to get into the festive spirit. But, I was outvoted and the tree was assembled. Firstly, the tree needed to be inspected by our snoopervisors to see if it was suitable:

Yep!! This one is still good!

In other news, I have been busy looking for a job over the past few weeks, and managed to actually get one last week. Not my dream job, but it will do while I am finishing off my degree in the next two years or so.

And now my problem - I need to buy work clothes. Business/corporate suitable outfits. All the shops are full of gypsy skirts and spaghetti strap* tops! And nothing else! What is up with that? Seriously, there is a lack of any suitable skirts, blouses, trousers and shoes. I managed to find 1 skirt last week (to wear to the interview) and can't find anything else. If this continues, I will have to *gulp* resort to sewing clothes for myself. I do not want to do this. It is a pain in the arse.

*These are extremely unflattering the majority of the population (myself included). I am sick of seeing bra straps everywhere - I am praying that this misguided fashion trend will end soon.

Friday, December 2

Its a good thing I like chartreuse......

I've been meaning to paint my bedroom for a while now - we've lived in this house for 18 months now, and we still haven't hung pictures (or quilts, for that matter). All the walls are beige, in typical used-to-be-a-rental-property tradition. So the problem is while the colour scheme is fairly bland (ok - really, really bland), the colour is not ugly enough to make you want to paint over it immediately. But I finally decided that it was time to change, so I went paint shopping.

This is what I chose - the paint colour is called Leaf Bud. Sounds pretty, no? It looked so pale on the colour chip, and didn't look too bad when I had the paint tinted at Bunnings. Then I started painting. At which time the paint took on a life of it's own and became almost fluorescent. uh-oh. Much more chartreuse than I had intended, but I like it.

I have to admit, it looked better after it dried a bit, and much better after I had done the second coat. But it is Very Lime Green. When the sun hits my room in the afternoon, you can see a green glow from the hallway. But it does look good with my quilt, which is what I had planned, and I do intend to hang some quilts on the walls, so that will dilute the effect somewhat. I hope. (My sheets are aubergine, by the way, not black.)

Of course, no painting project is complete without a little disaster of some sort. You know the kind of thing I mean - spilling enamel gloss paint on the carpet while trying to pour into the roller tray - not that I would know anything about that. (ok - I did do that, but it was in another house and the carpet was crappy anyway. When I ripped the carpet out later, I had to sand the paint stain off the floorboards. ) I thought I managed pretty well on this project - I did of course end up with the requisite paint on clothing incident, a little drop of paint on the bed, but that was it. Or so I thought. The next day I happened to look at the side of the cat, who should be black. Well, she was still mostly black, just with a patch of lime green tips down one side. Hmmmm. This picture probably illustrates the scene of the crime, although I am yet to locate the matching patch of black cat hair on my walls. It could have been worse. Much, much worse.

Now onto quilting:

I've had quilters block on Apple Candy. I did some ditch quilting, and then was a bit lost on what to do next. I had wanted to do some McTavishing style quilting, but I haven't quite mastered it yet - not to a level that I am happy with anyway. But yesterday I was playing with some spiral filling patterns and worked out this pattern:

It's similar to McTavishing, but has more spirals. I'm pleased with it so far - but I am still working the kinks - like how to not quilt myself into a corner, because I don't like to quilt over the same line twice. Sometimes I have had to though, and you can't really see it when all the quilting is done, so I think I'll have to let that go. I know that for McTavishing the backtracking is an integral part of the technique, but because I use rayon threads to quilt with it makes anything doubled over very noticeable.

More quilting - I quilted little bubbles in the middle of the circles, and twisty loops on the pink and orange bits, but you can't see that very well in this pic.

This is the back - it is much greener than this picture in reality, but I like the whole cloth effect that is coming out. I match my bobbin colour to the top colour because I can never completely prevent the little bits of bobbin thread showing on the top, no matter how I set the tension on my machine. I don't normally go for plain backings, because you can see every little quilting mistake, but I think the quilting will be so dense that it will be difficult to pick anything out. Unless you are me, of course!