Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Mooove over Darling

Having finished at last the quilt for my friend’s baby I’m excited about trying more challenging quilting.  It’s not a complex design - just squares sewn together although I’m considering hand quilting round some owl shapes for definition, maybe one owl per square – that it whipped up really quickly.  I stitched the squares together in rows first and then stitched the rows together.  I’ve read different things about pressing seams in quilts – pressing them open or to one side - and decided to go for the to the side option.  Given it’s for a baby, I thought that might add some strength to the stitching as they wouldn’t be under pressure where the seams were pulling apart by being pressed open. Maybe that’s factually incorrect but was my sense when looking at it. 

Sewing the rows together, I thought I had matched up the seams perfectly but on the first row one of the square is out by about 2mm.  This of course means that my rotary cutting was also off on a couple of squares but sliding past that it made me really focus on matching my seams for the rest of them and gosh darn it if it doesn’t look pretty flipping good if I do say so.  I had a bit of a tip off that the baby’s room is yellow so am glad about the colours I’ve chosen for it.  The OH thinks it’s very bright but I did remind him it’s for a baby and besides, OH lives in a world of magnolia and coffee coloured things – and in my view a bit of bold never hurt anyone.  How we’ll manage when we live together I don’t know – the first time he came to my house, I saw him balk at my Wedgewood blue dining room and vintage yellow Royal Ballet poster.  Hey ho, change is evolutionary so I’m hopeful he’ll see sense about colour adding richness and excitement to life in general.  And I am already convinced that neutrals help to bring those colours to life so there’s room for his pale (and not stale) muted tones. 

Too bright?  For a baby?
I had been hemming and hawing about what to do for the backing and binding and settled on a white cotton with a sage green stripe for the back.  For the binding I was going for a taupe mini dot and thought I’d put a thin band of this across the middle of the back to break up the stripes and unify the binding, back and front.  Once I’d pinned it together and machine quilted it was obvious that a dark solid would really pull it together so I opted for dark brown – one of my original purchases so the tip is to listen to your instinct.  Plus I’d forgotten to do the strip of brown mini-spots across the back.  Cough cough.

When putting it together, I was a bit uncertain about the basting stage.  Given time constraints and lack of experience I thought spray basting (I gather in the community of quilters I should probably whisper that) might be the way forward but given it’s for a baby and I didn’t plan to wash it before giving it to my friend (hence it being stored in a ridiculously cautious way and washing my hands every ten or so minutes when I’m working on it) spray basting concerned me slightly – what are the risks of using spray adhesive on a child’s quilt?  Anyway, after I’d rolled the top and batting together and then started smoothing the three layers together it dawned on me I was too late anyway and I quite liked the pin basting – it’s repetitive and soothing, and to quote a great man those curved pins have a “nice action”.  Sigh, Alan Partridge, how right he was. 

Onto the mojo part.  My boss brought in a selection of children’s books that she no longer needs and she thought my nieces and nephews might like.  One of them was Click Clack Moo – Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin.  I hadn’t seen this book before but I was pretty uncool when I read it.  I think “laughed like a drain” probably best describes my reaction to it.  Now it might be that I’ve been working in HR for too long, and it had been a particularly tedious day of disputes, conflict, grievances and petty griping about all sorts of stuff and nonsense that would push a nursery teacher to their limits but a simple soul like me to near hysteria - but the protracted negotiations of the cows and chickens, and then the militarism of the ducks at the end struck a chord.  The pictures are lovely and reminded me of blocks for a quilt so I thought about using them as inspiration and trying to make a story quilt for my littlest niece perhaps with a copy of the book as a gift for her.  A long-term project with all the other things I have on the go but I do like the idea (clearly I wouldn’t infringe copyright and it would be a source rather than a copy, but it is just a thought). 

My jumper hit a bit of an impasse and I had to seek expert advice – I would blame the pattern (who wouldn’t) but I can’t.  I’m always nervous about ripping back as I’ve never managed to get the stitches back on a needle when I’ve done that.  I carried the picture around with me for a day or so then spoke to someone who really does know what she’s doing and almost as soon as I had her on the ‘phone it was obvious what was wrong.  That’s always the way – sometimes I ask someone else in the team just to pop in if I’m wrestling with something technological as it always resolves itself magically as soon as they’re nearby.

We had a very relaxing weekend in Suffolk – it’s a place that really shakes the cobwebs out, not least because it’s flat and quite windy - and came home feeling like we’d been on holiday.  Then tried to change a light bulb in the bathroom.  I love my flat but it’s fair to say the DIY Dad who lived there before me seemed to have a pathological fear of a job well done.  It’s as if he couldn’t bear to get a light fitting in straight, or fix the giant hole in the ceiling he had made trying to put up something in the hallway (I still don’t know what).  He was a barrister.  Now I’m not casting aspersions on his profession or practical abilities, but something about the state of the finish of the DIY tells me he may have been better suited to more “thinking” pursuits than practical ones.  The light fitting in the bathroom is such a total b7g8er to undo and redo that it took an hour to change the light bulb.  It was not our finest moment.  Chatting to my sister last night she told me about her husband grumbling that she had forgotten to pack his mobile charger for a business trip he was packing for himself.  I was reminded of the OH’s comment as I stood on the bath several feet away from the offending light fitting looking at his grimacing and unhappy face when he dropped a bit of the fitting.  “You moved it” he squawked with not a trace of irony.  Which led to one of those conversations reserved only for couples – “how could I have moved it, I was at least a MILE away”, “ I didn’t say “you”, I said “we”, you misheard” – not convinced I managed to bite back “you misspoke” – I’ve had a bathroom in darkness since before Christmas and I really did need that light to be fixed.  Ah love, it’s not for everyone.


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