Sunday 30 January 2022

January reads

I thought I'd share a few of my reads this year, it's all about fun & distraction! 
Here's my reading roundup for January

Jodi Picoult's latest novel Wish You Were Here, is fresh off the front page of life, but be prepared to go on a gutsy journey about survival, courage, love and loss.   

Diane O’Toole is climbing the professional ladder in the cut-throat art auction world, and is about to depart for the Gal├ípagos, with her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident in Manhattan, when the first cases of Covid-19 appear in the city.
It reminded me of the Sliding Doors idea - when faced with two choices, left or right - in the middle of pandemic. The result? A tale as heartbreaking and poignant as you could possibly imagine. Be sure to read the author’s notes AFTER the epilogue.

It's not an easy read, and if you're not in a place where you can read about the early experiences of Covid from many different angles, then I'd recommend you steer clear of this one for a while.

Scrublands by Chris Hammer is a multilayered investigative crime novel which starts off as a seemingly simple assignment for journalist Martin Scarsden when he is sent by the Sydney Morning Herald to write a follow up feature on a mass shooting that occurred a year ago.

Scrublands is the almost desert-like territory outside of a small rural town in Australia. Where the village priest shot five men from the steps of his church, and no one has figured out why he did it. Where his friend and local cop then shot the priest. Where rumors have spread, but few solid answers are known. Where a reporter with a history is sent to write a feature a year later focusing on how the town has recovered or not.
It's a longish book, where you get all tangled up in whodunnits. in a slow moving, detailed way, and I enjoyed it.

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce is a quirky, but sweet love story wrapped up inside a loving ode to music. 1988. Frank owns a music shop. jam-packed with vinyl records {and the occasional lava lamp!} and day after day Frank finds his customers the music they need.

Such a delightful gentle read! It doesn't demand constant attention or keep you awake at night, it's just a lovely nostalgic story that makes you feel so happy when reading it.
If you enjoyed The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy. then I'm sure this one will hit the spot too!

I'm a little late to the party and have only just finished Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. 

"The epic drought which turned Texas into a giant Dust Bowl in the 1930's and brought the state to its knees is a vivid backdrop to this story of a woman trying to make the best of things in the middle of The Great Depression.

Like others at the time, Elsa Martinelli and her family eat and breathe and drown in the inescapable dust (the descriptions of which are unimaginable) and eventually migrate to California, looking for a better life - which is nowhere to be found. The migrants are unwelcome; living in the camps and picking cotton is brutal, and their labour is cheap, and easily replaceable.
This book is a piece of history brought to life with all its hardship, grit and strength of the human spirit, and I loved it". - Joan's picks, from Whitcoulls. 

And Joan's review had me hooked, it's an era I don't know much about, so glad I read this one!  Oh, and also, most of my bookclub had read it, but wouldn't discuss until a couple of us had caught up and read it too! 

Four Winds is my pic for this month
Love to hear your thoughts if you have read any of these too ?

Thursday 27 January 2022

improv with a pattern

My "Daylesford" quilt top is done! 
I loved making this, it felt very much like improv 
Such a forgiving pattern, 
with great guidelines to create your own adventure, making your quilt unique!

Quilt top details:
"Daylesford" quilt, my version of Jen Kingwell's pattern
Finished size approx. 60" x 60"
Made from a mix of fabrics all from my stash, 
including Outback Wife, Karen Lewis and a little bit of Liberty

Linking up with Kelly for NTT here
Off now to vacuum the sewing room floor,

Monday 24 January 2022

round and round we go

Hello hello. It's funny isn't it, if you leave something for a week, everything changes! I needed to make room for this month's "Pas de Deux" blocks on the design wall, so I shifted my "Daylesford" bits & pieces down onto the design floor, and walked around it all for a week or more. 

But then the more I looked at it, the more it felt like I was going a little off-piste here. I re-read the instructions, and - silly me - I was going clockwise round & round, whereas Jen went anti-clockwise!  Actually that didn't worry me too much, after-all I alter patterns lots of times. And, I'd already decided that the widths of my strips would be dictated by what stash I had here on hand, not necessarily what the pattern suggested. 

However,  what was really troubling me was that I was aiming for a much softer look … and that was just so not happening! So, over the weekend, out came the quick-un-pic and I reworked things a bit. 

- love a little pink with mustard

It's a medallion of sorts, with a sampling of little blocks, scrappy {so very much Jen kingwell's style}, and pieced together like a giant log cabin, a Gee’s Bend inspired quilt I suspect. 

My palette has been fine tuned a bit more too {phew!} as I go round & round, into a selection of pastel pinks, assorted blues and a "pop" of mustard. 
I'm incorporating some recent additions from my stash too, like Karen Lewis' 'hand stitched' fabrics - so modern & fresh with minimalist designs. I love how different they can look depending on what you pair them with, {like maybe solids or Liberty}. However, what I was really surprised with, was how super they look teamed up with the very last few bits of my favourite Outback Wife fabrics... perfect for creating that softer vintage/ modern vibe I was hoping for!

I'm really enjoying making this, even with all that unpicking!
I've stitched six rounds together now, and am super happy with my progress. It's all back down on the design floor again while I contemplate the last few more borders …

Linking up with Cyndy for 'oh scrap' here
Until next time, Linda

Tuesday 18 January 2022

pas de deux

Hello hello. So this is where I ended up with my fabric pull for the  #pasdedeuxquilt, which is  @stitchedincolor’s year long Block of the Month. And what is this BOM all about? I hear you ask. Here's what Rachel has to say …

"Pas de Deux interweaves many styles of patchwork in a modern, non-linear way. 
The shapes spin and dance, bringing to mind a pas de deux, which is a dance for two.

Unlike other sampler quilts, you won’t make just one block in each style. 
Instead, Pas de Deux invites you to dig into each shape and repeat it for awhile, 
before moving onto something new. 
Repetition and novelty all wrapped up in a surprising package."

One of the questions I often get asked is how do I choose the fabrics for my quilts?
I had the best time sorting scraps and stash for this, hunting for just the right contrasting or blending combinations … making choices … it’s a personal thing for sure … and a super way to waste spend a few hours! 

I was a bit unsure about choosing my theme/mood so I opted for having a focus fabric as my starting point, pic #1. Time to use this yummy highly saturated floral,  #bohofusionfabric from @artgalleryfabricsI love those vivid, rich colours.
And then it was simply intuition and digging into the fabric stash looking for other fabrics that could all work together. 

As each patchwork ensemble is composed of two main colours {aka the two main dancers} I sorted a few initial combinations to check if I liked what was happening. I also plan to add in a few solids to add depth and a few designer prints to add interest along the way.  
While I am going to be guided by Rachel's multi coloured version for the first couple of months, I know my palette will evolve more as I progress during the year.

I tend to just jump right in - no checking if there's enough of any one fabric, it is scrappy after all - I just sew and try hard not overthink it. I'm finding that if you use enough different fabrics in a scrappy quilt it all turns out in the end … well, usually!

- first three little sections done 
Going for a gentle low contrast grouping here, lots of time to go bold later on!

- loving this #citrus & #teal combo

Here's how the design wall is looking so far
- keen to see next month's blocks now! 

Linking up with Cyndy for 'oh scrap' here
Until next time, Linda

Friday 14 January 2022

daylesford quilt: update

- back to the design wall today

                                           - I like the mix of pieced blocks within the rounds of logs.

My main thought as we start the new year is to share more unfinished work here on the blog. If you ever stop by Audrey from quiltfolk you will know she is a process quilter. Her posts are a delight to read, I always enjoy her thoughts as much as her process and photos. 
I  think there is such a lot to learn by sharing, what’s working well and what's not working so well…it’s all part of the process of making art  quilts! 

I've gone back to the design wall today as I add a couple of more rounds to my version of the 'Daylesford' quilt. It's a "chose - your - own - adventure" project … a medallion of sorts, with a sample of blocks, scrappy {so very much Jen Kingwell's style}, and pieced together like a giant log cabin, {wink wink} it changes each time I come back to it! 
But of course, the important question as I progress... is it balanced? If yes, then onto the next round.  

And so here are my latest thoughts - I'm focusing on keeping things not too heavy, not too dark, with a vintage/modern vibe. And I want to try and have some sort of flow from one strip to the other... oh, and to stick to mainly blues & peaches, repeating fabrics for continuity. 
Finally, I'm aiming where possible to alternate those florals with geometrics, strips and spots. 
And I'm happy so far! 

Off now to check out a few of my favourite blogs
- love reading about all those surprises & satisfactions in your work too.


Sunday 9 January 2022

Daylesford quilt


This is my first piece of patchwork for 2022 and I am looking forward to sewing more of this quilt over the next month or so! Today, despite the heat, I did have a little play … and, with the fan going full blast, once I started … I kept on keeping on! 

Late last year I found myself spending a lot of time auditioning fabric after fabric after fabric to cut some strips for my version of Jen Kingwell's "Daylesford" quilt from her book Quilt Recipes. {There's a QAL happening too over on IG here if you are keen to see other quilts from Jen's book.}

I'm trying to stick to a simple palette, but may add a little surprise along the way, 'cos you know, the unexpected adds so much interest! And, I cannot resist a gingham fabric, so you'll regularly see them make an appearance in my quilts too.

So far though, I'm focusing on simple techniques - love a good log cabin -  and letting the fabric do the work with interesting blue & peach combinations.  
Once I was happy with how things were looking today I sewed everything together, and am now onto planning the next few rounds…  

It's a new year, with lots of new QAL's happening everywhere
- anyone else tempted to join in with a new QAL or maybe a new BOM this year too?
Linking up with Cyndy here for 'oh scrap'.

Until next time, Linda