Quilt workshop: Cosmic Curves convergence quilt

31 08 2008

Yesterday, Bobbie and I, and Flora (Bobbie’s friend from Perth) went to Bunbury to participate in a quilt workshop. Michelle from Raggedy Stitches was our teacher for the day, and the workshop featured a Ricky Tims technique called convergence quilts (yes, Ricky is a bloke who quilts!). We all had lots of fun, lots of laughs, a bit of unpicking (ugh!), and learned a lot about piecing curves. I think everyone finished their quilt tops. We all used the same pattern, but with the variety of fabrics, everyone’s looked different.

Mine is the one in the earth tones—I call it “Sun and Earth”. It has an Aboriginal print as the main fabric (see the white snakes crawling towards the waterholes?), a yellow ‘sun’ fabric for the sun, and an ochre fabric for the earth (all fabrics were from my stash except the ochre fabric).

Sun and earth

Sun and earth

Bobbie’s is done in Japanese print fabrics, and she’s making it for a friend of hers who is into Japanese design.

Turning Japanese

Turning Japanese

Link to post about finished quilt…

Shifting sands and the power of karma

26 08 2008

About 6 weeks ago I mentioned that I thought things were shifting in my world. Then 2 weeks ago some had firmed up. Today I got email confirmation that I’d be taking on an initial 3-month part-time contract with the BIG oil and gas company, starting next week.

How did I get this job without an interview, without showing a portfolio, or anything other than a phone conversation? Word of mouth referral. Clare and I worked together at [large mining company] some years ago—in fact, we sat in adjoining cubes so I got to know her pretty well. This was back in about 2000 or 2001. When she went to work for [large government department], she got me on board as she liked my work ethic and capabilities. By the time I started there, she’d moved on, but I stayed on for about 6 months. About 12 months ago Clare asked about my availability and said that she’d have some work for me coming up at [BIG company] where she’s now working. Well, that specific work hasn’t come off yet, but I’m not worried—it will. And I wasn’t available much anyway. Meantime, someone at [BIG company] she works with needed someone to move fast on a particular project with some tight filing deadlines, and Clare’s first thought was me. So Clare refers me to Julia and obviously speaks highly of my ability. Julia and I chat, and now it’s a done deal except for the final contractual pieces of paper that need to get sorted out with the agency they use.

And I had another nice ‘karma’ moment today too—this time, it was one that I could immediately identify, not like the one from back in February. Some time back a guy called me and asked if I would edit his science fiction/fantasy manuscript. He contacted me ‘cos he had relatives down this way and lived in the southwest himself. Well, I don’t do fiction editing of any sort, so I referred him to Helen, an editor I know of in Pemberton. I know Helen met with him and I’m not sure where it went from there. But I know she was grateful for the referral.

Today Helen referred someone to me for some copywriting work of a more technical nature than she’s used to. The marketing manager at the firm and I had a long chat, I sent off an email confirming our conversation, covering rates, time frames etc. The marketing manager only works two days a week, so she said she’d get back to me on Monday. So that could be another job coming in. A small one, but a new client nonetheless. Thanks for the referral Helen.

And thanks Clare for the referral at the BIG company!

Took the day off today

25 08 2008

My husband suggested that we go for a drive today. My commitments with the Queensland company were very light on today, and I’m waiting on phone calls from others before I start on new contracts, so that sounded like a good idea to me! Unfortunately, it wasn’t as bright and sunny out as it has been in the past couple of weeks, but it wasn’t raining, so driving on unpaved roads wasn’t going to be a muddy excursion that we might regret later.

Instead of going any long distance, we decided to explore some of the roads in the hinterland. And what a surprise we were in for! We followed the Blackwood River for quite a lot of the time, and had a picnic lunch by the river at the Winnijup Rd Bridge—the shire has thoughtfully provided a picnic shelter there. I doubt it’s used much—the date of construction was 1993, but there’s very little evidence that it’s had a lot of use. So that was our drive east of town.

When we got back to town we headed west and found the most gorgeous looping drive through farming country, nature reserves, hills, and the river. Magic. (This are is known as the Peninsula.)

Oh, and the wildflowers are starting to emerge. In a few weeks they’ll be in full bloom.

Some photos below…

Blackwood River at the Winnijup Rd Bridge

Blackwood River at the Winnijup Rd Bridge

Driving hazards when you drive through farm land on a public road, near Bridgetown, Western Australia

Driving hazards when you drive through farm land on a public road, near Bridgetown, Western Australia

Hardenbergia, near Winnijup Rd Bridge

Hardenbergia, near Winnijup Rd Bridge

Log Cabin Quilt: 3

25 08 2008

Actually, this post is about a couple of mini log cabin quilts—variations on the big one I have yet to start.

Remember those blue plaid blocks I didn’t like and replaced with the dark batik blue? Well, I decided to make a couple of mini quilts out of them.

My first thought was for a laptop tote bag/sleeve for my new 17″ laptop to go inside my rollaway laptop bag. And I may still do that. This is the first mini quilt, using the furrows layout for the log cabin blocks. The binding isn’t too good—I wanted to use the last of the plaid and it’s a very soft fabric. To make it into a sleeve, all I have to do is fold it over, stitch the sides, and perhaps add a fabric handle or two. But I really don’t like that fabric. It’s getting worse the more I look at it, as Bobbie and Michelle indicated would happen. My husband just said, “Why don’t you just throw the fabric out?” The next section will tell you why not, and why I may keep it as is and not fold it over and stitch it…

Mini log cabin quilt 1

Mini log cabin quilt 1 (final size approx 18" x 24")

Dog print on back of mini log cabin quilt 1

Dog spot print on back of mini log cabin quilt 1

My other thought was for a small quilt to donate to the RSPCA. A lady in the Perth office of the Queensland company I’ve been working for volunteers at the RSPCA, and she put out an appeal for some blankets and towels to help keep the animals, such as the dogs and cats, warm and dry over winter. So I figured that making small quilts for the animals at the RSPCA might be a good way to use up scraps and to try out new skills. Any excuse! 😉

So here’s the second mini log cabin I put together with that disliked fabric. I already had the blocks so it was just a matter of sewing them together (this time using a large diamond arrangement) and adding a border. Then deciding on a backing.

Mini log cabin quilt 2

Mini log cabin quilt 2

I decided to try out a “Disappearing 9 Patch” for the backing fabric of one of the mini quilts (I only decided this late yesterday afternoon so the backing quilt is not finished yet!). It’s super easy, and a great technique for making a quilt really quickly. Below is a picture of the initial block.

Disappearing 9 patch - initial block

Disappearing 9 patch - initial block

I’ve made four of these to make the background fabric for the second mini log cabin quilt. The individual patches are 5″ square—and each fabric was from bits and pieces in my stash. The next step is to cut this block in quarters through the center, rotate the blocks, then sew them back together again (yeah, I know—even my Mum wonders why you’d take perfectly good fabric, cut it up, then sew it back together!). I’ll upload the photos once I’ve done this so you can see what the effect is.

In the meantime, if you want to find out more about the Disappearing 9 Patch, Anne G’s Mom’s blog pointed me to this website that shows this very simple but effective technique.

Update 25 August 2008… later: I got a bit of time today to cut these blocks up, do the rotation thing, then sew them back together again. Here’s the back before doing the sandwich thing with the top, then the quilting.

Disappearing 9 patch blocks - cut, rotated, and sewn back together

Disappearing 9 patch blocks - cut, rotated, and sewn back together

Update 12 September 2008: I took the opportunity to try out some free motion quilting techniques on this little quilt, and to learn how to do mitred corners properly. Later today I’ll send them both off to my friend who does volunteer work at the RSPCA.

Free motion quilting and mitred corner

Free motion quilting and mitred corner

See also:

So, who’s winning?

18 08 2008

In an idle moment today, waiting for a plumber that never came, I decided to see just how the number of Olympic gold medals stack up, based on the populations of the respective countries. I only did the gold medal tally (‘cos no-one really cares about who came 2nd or 3rd, right? 😉 ), and only the top five gold medal countries as at 10am Monday August 18, Australian Western Standard Time. (NOTE: Population stats for these countries are taken from http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/summaries.html)

Here’s what I got:

  1. China – 35 gold. Population 1,330,000,000. 1 gold for every 38m people.
  2. United States – 19 gold. Population 303,000,000. 1 gold for every 15.95m people.
  3. Great Britain – 11 gold. Population 82,000,000. 1 gold for every 7.45m people.
  4. Germany – 9 gold. Population 61,000,000. 1 gold for every 6.77m people.
  5. Australia – 8 gold. Population 21,000,000. 1 gold for every 2.65m people.

Taking Australia’s ratio: If [country] was averaging 1 gold for every 2.65m people, they should have [number] golds by now:

  • China – 501
  • US – 114
  • GB – 31
  • Germany – 23
  • Australia – 8

Puts a different spin on it, huh? 😉

Update 25 August 2008:

With the final gold medal results known, here’s how the first table pans out:

  1. China – 51 gold. Population 1,330,000,000. 1 gold for every 26.1m people.
  2. United States – 36 gold. Population 303,000,000. 1 gold for every 8.4m people.
  3. Russia – 23 gold. Population 141,000,000. 1 gold for every 6.1m people.
  4. Great Britain – 19 gold. Population 82,000,000. 1 gold for every 4.3m people.
  5. Germany – 16 gold. Population 61,000,000. 1 gold for every 3.8m people.
  6. Australia – 14 gold. Population 21,000,000. 1 gold for every 1.5m people.

And Jamaica came 13th in the gold medal tally, with 3. With a population of just 2.9m people, that’s 1 gold for every 0.9m people. Actually, it’s 3 gold for just one man—the unbelievable Usain Bolt.

Success and happiness

18 08 2008

Read this today in a comment on Pamela Slim’s Escape From Cubicle Nation blog:

Success is getting what you want. Happiness is liking what you get.

Log Cabin Quilt: 2

16 08 2008

I forgot to post a pic of the various colour ways for the 144 blocks I’ve made ready to put together for the log cabin quilt. There are 24 blocks of six different colour themes; I still haven’t decided on a pattern…

Oh, and for those who saw the other blue blocks, you’ll notice that I’ve replaced them with darker, more batik-y blue blocks (bottom right).

144 blocks, 24 of each colour

144 blocks, 24 of each colour

See also:

Crapped on… literally!

16 08 2008

So I go into town today to get some groceries and I park in the main street—as you do. I get back to the car and what do I find? Little bits of cow poo scattered all over the side and top and back of the car, on the windscreen, the hood, you name it! Some cattle truck obviously went past and some cow decided it was time…

I bet the people at the cafe across the road got a laugh. I know I would’ve laughed had it been some other poor sucker who got crapped on. Not so funny when it’s your recently-washed car!

It’s fun living in the country.

Bits of cow dung over car

Bits of cow dung over car

Closing doors, opening doors

14 08 2008

Life takes some interesting twists and turns, with things popping up out of unexpected places. Here are a few work-related things from the past couple of weeks in no particular order:

  • As I mentioned the other week, my time on the big project for the Queensland company is coming to an end. They’ve employed a full-time Brisbane-based replacement for me. He starts this Monday and I do handover with him next week. I’m fine with it—my other boss there still wants me on board for other work, but we’ve yet to work out the details of how much time etc.
  • I get a phone call this week from a lovely lady I’ve worked with before. She works for a BIG global oil and gas company, and has wanted me to do work on her project for some months. She hasn’t been ready—and I haven’t been available. Meantime, one of her colleagues desperately needs someone to help out the full-time tech writer with environmental reports for submission to government etc. It sounds like it’s just formatting, troubleshooting Word issues (my favourite task, NOT!), editing, and PDFing ready for submission. Once the administrative and contract stuff is sorted, I should start on that part time late August/early September. I’ve been told it’s a minimum 6 month contract, so that’s good.
  • I’ve picked up some ad hoc Author-it consulting work with a company in Israel. So far it’s involved setting up HTML templates and troubleshooting Word template issues. Because it’s too expensive for them to do electronic bank transfers per invoice, we’ve set up a prepaid situation where they pay for 10 hours in advance, I send them detailed timesheets as I go, and then send them a new invoice when the prepaid 10 hours is nearly up. So far, we’ve put in place two prepaid plans.
  • My great friend, Char, asked me if I’d like to be a moderator for an email list of some nearly 7000 Help authors around the world. The main moderator, Bill (*waves to Bill*), has left his position and Char has taken it on (amongst the hundreds of other things she does in a day!). But they needed another moderator to fill the gap so that it wasn’t left in the hands of just two people. It’s not arduous work—just watching out for spammers who want to join the list, and monitoring the first few posts of newbies. So now we have true 24/7 coverage—Char’s in North America, Paula is in Israel, and I’m in Australia. We have all time zones covered!
  • Oh, and I’m off to Sydney at the end of October to spend a few days in the Queensland company’s Sydney office (where my other boss is now located), and to speak at a conference there.
  • And then yesterday I get a call from an old friend who I worked with back in the late 90s at Hamersley Iron, and they’re coming down this way early in October. They love wine so it’ll be an opportunity to introduce them to the wines of this region and to catch up on lots of gossip! (Yes, Suzanne—it’s B&L)
  • Almost forgot! A few weeks back I wrote some comments on a great article that Luke Wroblewski wrote on the UXMatters website. The editor emailed me and asked me to write an article or a series based on the information in the presentation I did at the WritersUA and AODC Conferences. So I’ve been busy with that and sent off my 6000 words yesterday.
  • Yesterday was another ‘completion’ day too! One of the things that I put off until I can’t put it off any longer is getting together all the information for our annual tax returns (personal and company). But I got an email from the accountant earlier this month telling me she’s pregnant and could we please have our stuff in to her by the end of August as she’s going on maternity leave in October. Brisbane had a public holiday yesterday, so it was an ideal time to get it done. Courtesy of Express Post, it’s gone and she should have received it today.
  • Oh, and I washed my car yesterday too—it really needed it! It’s been so wet lately that I haven’t had a chance; yesterday was lovely and sunny. Not hot, or even very warm, but sunny.

At a more personal level, my friend Bobbie has offered me her almost brand new sewing machine to test for a couple of weeks. It’s a Husqvarna Sapphire 830, so it doesn’t have the things I really like about the Sapphire 870, like the auto thread cutters, but it will give me a good feel for the machine. She may offer it to me for purchase as she’s thinking of upgrading her Pfaff to the new model when it gets released in a month or two. But thanks to her generosity, I get to try it out for a while before making a decision. Now, I just have to find the time to get back to those quilt blocks! I’ve got the log cabin ones all made—I just haven’t had time to start putting them together yet.

Craft, Quilt, and Stitch Show

2 08 2008

I drove to Perth yesterday to take a look at the WA Craft, Quilt, and Stitch Show, and to attend my nephew’s 5th birthday party. I had a few things I wanted to do at the Show:

  • View the quilt exhibitions—there were the quilts made by locals, and then there was the Eyeline Exhibition, a stunning collection of art quilts from the ACT (see the pictures below for some examples).
  • Check out the booths to see what’s new, what goodies were on sale (I only bought a couple—honest!), and to say hi to the lovely Michelle from Raggedy Stitches and to my good friend Bobbie from The Quilt Mouse, both of whom had booths and were running workshops over the three days. Bobbie had her brand new CDs for sale—these are of her Foundation Paper Piecing blocks, in various patterns and sizes. You can purchase a CD (or the complete set) and can print as many of the blocks as you want, either on your paper, or the thin, easily-tearable paper she can supply. Those CDs were selling like hotcakes! She doesn’t have them up on her website yet, but if you email her, she can send you the details.
  • See if I could get a demonstration of, and a chance to play with, the only sewing machine I’ve yet to investigate—a Bernina 440 Quilters Edition. I did, and I was disappointed. In my opinion and based on the features that I want, this machine was a poor second to the Husqvarna Sapphire 870, while being some hundreds of dollars more expensive! The guy at the booth said they’d give me a $500-600 trade-in on my existing Bernina, but while the price after trade-in is now comparable with the Husqvarna, it still doesn’t have the features I’m looking for, like auto thread cutters etc. My heart has always been with Berninas as they are incredibly reliable machines (my Mum had one when I was a kid and it was the first electric sewing machine I ever used, then I purchased one for myself as a 21st birthday present, then Mum got another one about 10 years after that which I now have [she swapped me hers for mine a few months back]), but Bernina really missed the boat with the 440. The Husqvarna’s 10″ throat and the auto thread cutters, in particular, have swung my decision towards Husqvarna. I eliminated Janome, Pfaff, and Brother some time ago, and getting access to a Bernina was a problem—the closest store (in Bunbury) hasn’t had one on display each time I’ve been in there, which didn’t augur well. The other reason for choosing the Husqvarna is that I can get it locally, so if there are issues with servicing, repair, etc. I only have to take it in to the local shop.

Here are a couple of pictures I took of two of the Eyeline art quilts:

Small section of one quilt in a triptych from the Eyeline exhibition

Small section of one quilt in a triptych from the Eyeline exhibition. Thread 'painting' was used to create the grass and trees, as well as the contours.

Eyeline Exhibition 2

Small section of a panel of about 6 art quilts. This is the right edge of one and the left edge of the next.

Eyeline Exhibition 3

Close-up showing stitching and construction techniques