Sunday, June 28, 2009

sunday stash #2


Thank you so much for all those very helpful hints on matching up my seams. I was fully prepared to hear lots of, "yes you need to unpick it all" so it was really refreshing to hear that this is a common, but sort of acceptable problem!

My sewing machine came with a 1/4 inch seam foot (thank heavens), but I think the thing that has made the biggest difference has been ironing the seams in opposite directions. Not only are they lining up better but it is so much simpler to sew. Previously I had only read to press the seams towards the darkest colour so that's what I was doing. I will also try the 'pins through the seams' tip - so simple and yet makes so much sense. Thanks again everyone!
Ok. Now for the Sunday Stash part of the program. I received not one but TWO deliveries of fabric in the mail this week! This was the first ...

a bit more green (which I mentioned I felt I needed here), and some Alexander Henry Starling ... just 'cause. 

The following day I received this gorgeous parcel, 

from Rita at Red Pepper Quilts. It is Rita's Strawberry Patches quilt which I am modelling my quilt on (only in green), and she has been so generous with her support of my project. And then this fabric arrived! I could not contain my excitement and of course my gratitude. 

I have chosen these from Rita's bundle to add to my quilt,

and  I get warm and fuzzy feelings when I think that some of Rita's fabric will make up a part of my special quilt - many, many thanks Rita.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

green tiles - part three (last one I promise!)

whilst I am finding the quilt making process enjoyable, it is teaching me a lot of things about myself which I probably knew but managed to avoid confronting in my everyday life.

for instance, I am so NOT a perfectionist. I really, really want this quilt to be wonderful (and perhaps I have put too much pressure on myself making my first quilt so laden with meaning), but far out my seam ripper and I are fast becoming firm friends! 

Perhaps I am sewing too late at night? Perhaps my measurements were off when I cut the fabric? Perhaps I cut the fabric incorrectly in the first place making some squares too stretchy?

but this keeps on happening ...

not all the time mind you but enough to be frustrating. And that's when I realise I am a 'near enough is good enough' kinda gal - if I've sewn it twice and it's still not lining up I'm figuring it's all going to add character to the finished product. Right?

any hints on what I might be doing wrong? And please, feel free to tell me if I really should pick it all apart and start again, especially if it's going to making the sashing part difficult. Or if you think it just looks really bad. 

oh and here are most of the completed squares

I received some Denyse Schmidt "Katie Jump Rope" fabric in the mail yesterday from the etsy store, Pickled Pear Lane - (totally copying Kate!). I bought these because I felt there was a lot of aqua and light greens and thought these more 'true' greens would help to lift it all. Again I am open to comments if you feel these fabrics are standing out a bit too much. 

And finally I just wanted to share with you, photos of one of my other 'helpers'

I think he's trying to tell me something. Either that or he just knows that his eyes co-ordinate perfectly with my squares ;)

Monday, June 22, 2009

green tiles - part two

so here is the little quilting ritual I have started for myself ...

first, a tidy up of the sewing table including a quick piecing together of some of my favourite things (more details on these bits and pieces here) to make me smile. Or cry depending on how I'm feeling ;)

then the special candle Antonia gave me is lit, the music goes on (at the moment either Eva Cassidy's "Songbird" or, "The Eagle and the Ocean" by Riley Lee), and the squares slowly and methodically begin to pile up

as I'm sure most of you well know, there is something very meditative and immensely satisfying at this point of the quilt making process - the pressing, measuring, cutting, stacking and I'm sure all that green is having some sort of soothing effect too, right?

oh and the nice part is I usually have some company. Or not. And both is fine by me. 

Saturday, June 20, 2009

green tiles - part one

Firstly, I cannot thank you all enough for the warmth and kindness of all the beautiful comments I received on my previous post. I was so very grateful for all your thoughts, prayers and wishes - thank you.

when I was first told that the bath was, '...the epidural of the birth centre' I snorted. I mean I knew I wanted to try my hardest to have a drug-free birth, more out of a fear of hospitals and needles than anything else, but still I thought there was no way a bath - a bath - could compare with the sensation of having an epidural. Could it? 

i remember so clearly stepping into the deep waters of the enormous bath at the birth centre of my local hospital when I was in labour with Sienna and feeling that it was not water I was stepping into but instead that it was a huge vat of thick, viscous honey. And in that moment I thought, "Ah, so this is what they meant"! 

i went on to give birth in that bath twice. and whilst the water was an amazing part of the experience the most unforgettable aspect of that bathroom, was the green tiles on the wall. even now sitting here typing I can conjure up the exact feeling of relaxation they imparted onto me. now I would never have called myself a lover of green - I mean, it's not a colour to hate by any means but I wouldn't say I have ever been naturally drawn towards it. not until I saw those tiles. 

those tiles were my epidural.

and so I guess it was no surprise that those soothing tiles re-entered my mind a few days ago when I was desperately seeking some kind of ritual to mark the brief journey that the little soul I had been carrying had taken. All other suggestions I came across for marking this life seemed to involve setting something adrift - flowers thrown into the sea, bubbles or balloons released into the sky. 

but i had never held or even seen this baby so how was I ever going to let it go? And then I saw it. in my mind's eye I saw a quilt. a quilt with green squares to represent those green tiles that, with any luck, I would have again been seeking comfort in when I gave birth to this baby in six months time. a quilt that I could quite literally 'labour' over, meditate upon, and when it was completed, wrap myself - and whoever else wanted to join me - in.
a quilt that I would have forever.
but where to begin? I have never made a quilt before but for the last six months or so I have found myself borrowing books on quilting from the library, or ducking into a local quilting shop, "just to have a look" (ok, and buying the odd fat quarter - or five). The list of blogs I follow has seemed to feature a growing list of very inspiring quilters (among other things) including Kate from One Flew Over, Tam from 1/4 of an inch, happythings, Jennifer at JCasa *handmade, Sarah at Quince and Quire and Alison from 6.5 stitches

i have never taken a class and so I had no idea really where to begin. All i knew was that it needed to have squares and they needed to be green. So last Saturday I looked through my blog list for someone who had a recent quilting post and an email address and so ended up contacting the incredibly talented Kate from Two Little Banshees. Poor Kate got my whole, raw story in an email as well as my requests for some creative direction and quick as  flash responded with warm thoughts as well as a book recommendation and some flickr links.

what followed was a Saturday night that saw me flicking through over three and a half thousand of the most delicious quilts on the Fresh Modern Quilts flickr group (check it out but make a cuppa and settle in- you'll be there for hours and you will not regret it either!). And from all of those the one that i felt most represented the quilt I had seen in my mind was this gorgeous piece from Rita of Red Pepper Quilts (a blog I had not previously been aware of - hidden treasure to me!). 

once that quilt was in my head I was like a dog with a bone. I couldn't get it out of my head and so on Sunday afternoon at 4pm I asked Jamie to take me to the quilt show, which just happened to be on in Sydney but finished at 5pm. It was my first time out of the house since my surgery a few days before and my gorgeous husband just jumped up grabbed the keys, cleared it with my sister who was staying for few days to look after the kids and off we went.

we were on a mission. I needed everything. Cutting mat, rotary cutter, rulers - if it was a quilting essential I needed it and I needed it now! Considering the time we arrived the various stalls I visited were (wo)manned by people who, whilst weary, were still so blessedly patient and generous with their advice. I managed to get a hold of a copy of Material Obsession (one of Kate's suggestions) and got it signed by Kathy to boot! At a Brisbane-based stall I managed to get my hands on some Amy Butler 'Midwest Modern' fabric and then grabbed some slightly more muted green tones from another stall. 

(and so here is the Sunday Stash bit ...)

ok babes are awake. 

to be continued ... 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

grieving room

the following post is pretty clunky - it is pure stream of consciousness writing which I have purposely not edited, but which I have written in clumps over a few days. Apologies for it's length and probably it's self-indulgence ... I just needed to get it out.

for thirteen-ish weeks now I have been writing a blog post in my head that was to be published a few days ago. In my mind the post was to start with a slightly blurred black and white image, and the title was always going to be, "my latest creative project". Funny and oh so clever I thought. I was literally busting at the seams to share this story. 

unfortunately that post is not the one I am now writing. Instead I have been battling with my desire to share this news and wondering whether it is something I should keep to myself. In the end I figured as I lay in bed wide awake the other night, that I would not be able to post about anything else until i had written this. Added to that is the very 'real' (in an unreal kinda way), connections I have made through this medium to some seriously lovely, kind hearted people who I trust with the fragility of this moment. 

my latest creative project was the baby I had been carrying for the past twelve and a half weeks - our early Christmas present due on December 19 (hence, our quick little 'mummy and daddy' holiday recently).
a week and a half ago we went out to breakfast with some friends who are expecting their first baby any day now and as I perused the menu looking for "baby-safe" options I chatted excitedly with my friend about how much she had to look forward to. I couldn't help but feel so grateful in that moment that I only had six months to wait until I too could again experience that crazy, hazy beautiful newborn baby time. 

but when we got home from breakfast I just felt weird, not tired, but I still felt the need to lay down - like, really lay down, in bed, door closed blinds drawn under the covers type lay down. I ended up falling into a really deep sleep for two hours and when I woke up I felt this low weird cramping on my right side. I got up and did a few things before going to the bathroom where I found some spotting. And I just knew.

suddenly it seemed to make sense that I had experienced virtually no morning sickness since about the eight week mark and had not really started to show as much as I had expected I would by this stage, especially considering it was my third pregnancy. I didn't tell Jamie about my symptoms until that night and even though he seemed pretty calm I was still fighting this overwhelming intuitive feeling that something was wrong. I called my doctor the next day and whilst she didn't exactly tell me not to worry she said there was not much point coming to see her, especially considering I had my scan scheduled for early the next morning anyway. 

waiting for that scan was torture and yet at the same time I didn't want to see what I knew I was going to see. And really nothing could have prepared me for the image of our poor little baby, so tiny and so obviously lifeless. I felt so sorry for the radiographer who would have known immediately what she was seeing and who went about measuring and recording stuff anyway. And when she did the measurement of the heartbeat and the lines just dragged straight along the bottom of the screen I felt my world just crumple in. What followed was that weird business like stuff - getting dressed, having to walk back through the waiting room full of expectant parents trying to hold back my sobs, having to wait to see a particular doctor and needing to make arrangements for surgery in the following days. 

I won't go into all the details of the surgery. I'm sure given the statistics of miscarriage there are many of you reading right now who have had to experience the nature of this procedure, not to mention the recovery. 

and yet in the midst of all this there have been so many opportunities for gratefulness. My beautiful, thoughtful, kind, strong and loving partner and husband who I know is feeling exactly the same way I am and yet who has had to be the one to make all the phone calls, make breakfasts and dinners, and today has even taken both kids to a party. My gorgeous children who I thought I felt grateful for anyway but who I now think are miracles to even exist. For my parents who dropped everything to come and sleep on our floor so they could be here early on the morning of my surgery. For friends who sent flowers or some soup, or even just the offer of help should we need it. For my sister who came down here to stay for a few nights to help me to look after the kids when Jamie went back to work. And finally for my dearest friend, Antonia who is just my tower of strength and who always knows just what to say, for sending me this message from a book called Safe Passage ...

"We need a grieving room for all of us who are mourning, a quiet, safe place of solace where emotion is sacred and the continual falling of tears generates the energy for our healing. We need a grieving room with thick walls to keep despair outside and hope secure within, and, on the floor, comfortable pillows to remind us to rest."

Monday, June 8, 2009


i have been finding it hard to shake those, "ho-hum-I'm-back-to-my-everyday-life" type feelings since getting back from our little holiday. I don't think those of us who live in busy cities realise the steady stress that living amongst so many people can put us under until we actually get to have a break away from it all. The problem of getting away from it all is then of course how jarring all the noise and traffic and busy-ness is once you get back!

anyway I have been trying my best to turn this funk I'm in around - trying to think of all the awesome things there are to love about this city (and really, there are a LOT of things), and I guess trying to get out there amongst it all again instead of trying to be back on holidays!
so instead of spending our usual night at home on Saturday I decided we needed to break the routine and get into the city to check out the Smart Light Light Walk, part of the Vivid Sydney festival. Has anyone else been to have a look at this? It's pretty amazing to see our already beautiful city lit in such amazingly thoughtful and artistic ways. 

and the kids were so incredibly excited to be out and about at night! I could almost see there minds expanding as they took in all the sights and sounds of their very busy city at night. As I was helping Sienna into her car seat on our way home she said, "Mummy, this has been a very fancy night hasn't it?" Priceless.

so I guess this city isn't so bad after all ... and I guess I am happy to be home :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

back to reality


we arrived back from paradise late Monday night to find that winter had well and truly hit Sydney. And as if it wasn't difficult enough to leave perfect sunny days of about 28 degrees (C), it has also been cloudy and raining on and off since our arrival back home. So as a result I have about five baskets of laundry in various states of cleanliness kicking about the place *sigh*! Talk about crashing back to reality! 

Time to start planning the next holiday I think ... 

Oh and can I add that not all the piles are in such nice baskets but I thought taking a photo of the laundry stacked in the icky plastic ones would be far too much reality for everyone really! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


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