Thursday, 1 October 2015

Addie, Aimee, Alice and 3 others

Do I really need a new projects considering the number of tops that need quilting?  The answer is NO.
Do I need a fiddly paper piecing project with tiny winy little pieces? The answer is NO.
Do I need a project that will go on for months and maybe years? The answer is NO.

So it does make sense that I have joined The Farmers Wife 1930s Quilt along, doesn’t it?

FW1930sQAL 2It is week 3 of the QAL, and so far I have managed to keep on top of this.  Two blocks a week does not seem that big an achievement! You are mistaken.  The paper piecing prep, the fabric choice, the sewing and… the removal of the paper which takes F O R E V E R… I need to find a faster, less time consuming way of doing this.  And it needs to be an economical way because I don’t feel buy more specialised paper yet.

Orlando High Nothing very original in my choice of fabrics, I’m using 1930s repro and solids.  It is what attracted me to this quilt in the first place.

Now let me introduce you to my first 6 blocks.

FW1930SQALTop row: Addie, Aimee, Alice
Bottom row: Ann, Anne, April


Initially I bought the book in order to follow the QAL, for the patterns and the instructions.  But there’s more to it. The first part of the book is a collection of letters from ‘Farm women’.  They were written between 1930 and 1939, during the recession.  The tone of the letters is quite cheerful, the idea was to boost moral. Reading between the lines, you get an idea of the life of these women in farms at the time, and recession or not, it was surely a hard time.

All of this made me think of my grandparents from my mother’s side.  Both of them were born and raised in a farm.  My grandmother always says that hers was more modern and advanced.  I can believe that: my great-grand mother ran the farm on her own, managing the day-workers.  Ma grand-mother is the 7th of 10 kids, she went to school until she was 12 at a time where farm kids would be pulled out of the class room much earlier to help (which happened to my grandfather who went to school only when he was not needed at the farm).  My grand-parents got married during the war, worked for a landlord.  My grand-mother realised that it was too difficult and that she wanted a different life for her family.  So they moved to the city where she opened a grocery shop whist my grandfather worked in a factory.  She always said that her life was better than the life of her sisters who stay in the farm.

Paper piecing1Top row
My grandmother with her siblings (sometimes in the 70s)
My great-grandmother (who I knew), my great-grandfather (who I never met, and who, according to the family legend, has been ‘kicked-out’ of the farm) and their 10 kids (my grandmother is the last one on the top row).

Bottom row
My grandparents on their wedding day during the war (1942)
My grandparents, my uncle and my mother (any opinion on those very short shorts?)
4 generations of women: my grandmother on the right (she used to have her dresses made once she moved to town), my great-grandmother, my mother and the cutie one is me.

I realise that I should speak to my grandmother and understand her life better.  In comparison, I find the letter of Mrs H.S.L., from Washington (page 82) very interesting.  I’d love to know what this lady’s life was in town to make her said that once she move to the countryside, she was ‘Happier than ever before’

…When I left town I traded my electric washer for two cows.  I have no modern conveniences, yet, as I had in town; still I am happier than I ever have been before….

I think my grandmother felt the exact opposite.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

This and that

I challenged myself to blog at least once a week, but that’s easily said than done.  What do you blog about when you have

  • unfinished projects you can’t show
  • finished garment that you are forbidden to share
  • secret project that can’t be shown yet
  • easy and not so easy knitting projects that I am making last because I love knitting them so much

I can entertain you with my day-to-day live like

  • finally tackling the laundry pile,
  • sharing sunset on the way to school
  • cleaning my sewing room once again
  • trying to accomplish something with this needy cat attached to me
  • looking at (not that) old selfies
  • enduring water damage that requires heavy noisy equipment in my corridor and bathroom000 Temp8 And there’s my ever-growing ToDo list, and my WantToDo list, and my HandMadeXmasToDo list…  How do you get organised? I am working very hard and try to stick to ‘one project at a time’ but there’s so much inspiration out there… How good are you at finishing one project before starting the next one?

Friday, 18 September 2015

My WF15 Knitting list

My life as a knitter is becoming more and more difficult… OK, I’m joking, nothing in my life as a knitter is life threatening.  I need to make a decision: what to knit next (once I’m done with my two current projects).

Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2015 collection is out since Wednesday and my fingers are itching.  As usual, I’m in love with the feel of the collection.  It is not only the projects, but the whole atmosphere of the look book, very earthy, very calming.

000 Temp7Here are some of my preferred projects: Fletching (top left), Cascades (bottom left), Trailhead (middle), Willamette (top right), Sauvie (bottom right)

And if only Brooklyn Tweed was the sole collections I have under my radar…  I’ve recently discover two new (to me) designers that appeal to my taste.  Shibui Knit, base in Portland, their Collection FW15 has a very Japanese feel (and it has nothing to do with the model), very clean, very simple.  My second find it Amirisu, from Japan.  Again, what attracts me to this collection is the simplicity, the no-fuss-no-pretention style.

000 Temp6 Some of my favourites: Equation (top left), Void (bottom left), Trace (centre), Inscribe (last of the right).

Now, you will have to excuse me, I need to flex my fingers’ muscles, organise my knitting needles and decide which project to put at the top of my list.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

My sewing space

All is back to ‘normal’, and today is probably the first day of my usual routine, which means it is the first time that I have a good chunk of time to spend in my Sewing room.  I’m feeling so lucky to have a nice space to sew.  In the past, I sewed on the kitchen table (before kids), then I had a bit of space in our bedroom, then in the garage… and now it is a space just for me, no sharing…

But before I can spend any quality time there, tidying it up was necessary.

Sewing room Does your room look like that?  Mine has a tendency to get super messy, super fast. Disappearing cutting area, sewing machine swamped under bric-a-brac, scraps’ bins taking over the yarn corner…  So I got my magic wand out, swirled it around and voila!...

Sewing room1

The cutting area and design wall, which is just a piece of flannel pined directly onto the wall (very fancy!).  Don’t ask me what the log cabin hears will become, I still don’t know.  And the elephant will mostly stay there for ever… Nice candle reminding me that I’m the Queen of dam near everything :)

Sewing room2The quilts ladder and the book/fabric stash shelves.  I bought the ladder when we lived in Singapore, it’s made of bamboo, very light, I should have bought at least one more.

The stash shelf – from there, my stash look very reasonable.  At the top are my garments patterns and the solids basket.  Then come the neutral/background box, a few project boxes, and my sleeves basket. The next three rows are for my actual quilting fabric stash, all organised by colours – I realised that it is not the best way to keep my stash as I need to pull the bins out in order to see what I’ve got.  In the other hand, I’m not ready to invest in a different system just yet.  At the bottom is my dress-making stash. I don’t open those bins very often and I should probably consider donating some of the fabric hiding there.

Next is my books shelf (you’ve got to imagine a large window between those two shelves).  Lots of pictures at the top from the time when we were not digital.  Then a mix of quilting, dress making and knitting references.  They are my go-to when I need to check a technique.  My serge is nested there too as some of my beading stash.

Sewing room3

Between the two shelves, there a large window where I have set up my cutting area and my sewing table. I need to improve the lighting on the cutting area: as the natural light coming from my right hand side, I’m creating shadows when I cut.  The sewing table is small but sturdier than the cutting one. For a while my machine was on a less stable table, but the vibrations were messing with my bobbin and I had to re-thread the machine regularly to avoid skipping stitches.  I’ve got some plastic drawers under the machine for my notions.  I don’t like those drawers, but again I’m not ready yet to replace them. I hate the idea of getting something that won’t work and I hate the idea of disposing of plastic even more. Facing me, my wall of ‘Petites Pièces’ (they would probably be called minis nowadays, but when I started quilting they were called small quilts).

Instagram4 Behind me, facing the window, there’s this large shelf, perfect for more books, folders and stuff that need to be hidden in the bins at the bottom (batting pieces of every possible size, more current dressmaking stash and some beading tools).  There are also collections of embroidery threads, quilting and sewing threads, silk threads, buttons, ribbons… and on the top some of my finished quilts. Next to it, this is my knitting stash – again, very reasonable.  However, I really need to consider donating some of my yarn, I don’t love it all. Then hugged between my yarn and the sewing machine, there are a few baskets of ‘active’ UFOs.  And finally, my mother’s mother’s sewing machine and its cabinet.  I don’t use it, I need to find a new belt for the pedal and the bobbins are very particular, long and very thin.

Sewing room4 Speaking of machines, here is my current collection:

  • my Juki under the cover,
  • my grandmother’s Singer, my serge (a very basic Brother, but it works well for what I do with it),
  • an oldie – a Challenge that I bought recently in an Antique shop, straight stitch only but has a very smoothing noise,
  • a cute little yellow Janome – not fast, but super light, perfect to carry around.
  • Not on the picture, I also have my mother-in-law’s machine – it’s an Elna from the late 60s, it is super heavy and unfortunately won’t work in the States.
  • And finally, I am waiting to receive my paternal grand-mother’s machine, it is a Singer too and I think it is even older than my other one.

Now the question is ‘since when did I need so many machines?’

Finally, I need to give credit to René and her blog post which gave me the idea of this one.  I hope you enjoy the tour :-).

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Ordinary Saturday

Victor and Alice are now gone… I am ready for getting back into some kind of routine… Routine is nice and comfortable, but how much I HATE waking up early.

Still, I would love to prolong the Summer just a bit more, have another opportunity to go paddle boarding, or maybe go to the beach…

Paddle boarding 
We all had our first paddle boarding taste with Orlando Paddleboard.  That was a lot of fun, not difficult at all, and a super cool way to exercise.  I would really recommend going to Orlando Paddleboard for a first experience, the team is very friendly, helpful.

Paddle boarding1 
It was a perfect day to test the water (!).  I loved peaking out at all the houses on the lake.  And feeling the water under my toes reminded me of my day as a sailing person.