Friday, 30 September 2011

Tales from the building site, Part the First

This is what my house looks like at the moment. The Carnivore and I are sleeping in the kitchen; the girls have set up their bedroom in the lounge room. Everything is Chaos, Confusion and Covered in Crap.

You know when you’re on a beach holiday, how you sit on the edge of your bed every night and brush the sand off your feet? It’s like that, only with dirt instead of sand. In spite of frenzied sweepings and moppings, there’s so much dirt and clay outside I just can’t keep it out.

It will all be worth it in the end, of course. We’ll have a new office for the Carnivore, freeing up a bedroom so the girls don’t have to share. There’ll be lots more storage and a big attic room up top. Can’t wait. In the meantime we’re crammed into one end of the house falling all over each other.

Last Saturday night the Carnivore and I came home from a night out to be greeted by the babysitter telling us the girls were in our bed, as their room was leaking. Sure enough, water was running down the walls in there. The builders had taken off part of the roof and clearly done a less-than-optimum job with the tarpaulins. More problematic, they’d also removed the outer bricks, leaving the inner walls (and their power points) exposed to the weather. And man, did we have Weather that night! It bucketed down.

Not surprisingly, the power went off about three o’clock in the morning, and we didn’t get it back on till after lunch on Sunday, after the builders had clambered around on the roof in the pouring rain to make it all watertight again.

When they came back on Monday they removed those power points. Seems to me it might have been smarter to do that before they removed the brick walls, but hey, it’s all part of the adventure, right? What’s a building project without a few horror stories to tell later?

Fingers crossed that that’s as bad as it gets! At least the ceiling didn’t collapse on the bed, as happened to a friend of mine when she was doing extensions.

How about you? Survived some building works and lived to tell the tale? Tell me your horror stories to make me feel better!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Learning colour bravery

I have a pretty good eye for colour, but I still have plenty to learn. I was inspired to make a rainbow strip quilt after seeing a beautifully bright one at The Sewing Attic blog. Go have a look at it. I’ll wait.

Isn’t it beautiful? Such rich, glowing colours. I got stuck into my fabric stash (and, it has to be admitted, into the local quilting shop, to fill in the gaps in my colour collection – any excuse to go fabric shopping!). I started with orange, and carefully chose orange fabrics that all went well together, put them together …

… and then sat back and thought, man, that’s bland. All blendy and matchy, not at all the vibrant riot of colour I recalled from Catherine’s blog. So I went back and had another look. A better one this time – and realised what an assortment of different shades and patterns she’d used to get that wonderful effect. She didn’t just have one shade of orange, but mustard-orange, gold-orange, brown-orange, red-orange, all mixed up together, plus different scale patterns, and it was that mixture that brought the quilt alive.

So I got a bit braver with my turquoise blocks. Some darks, some lights, some different shades of turquoise. Big prints and small scale prints. Even – gasp! – turquoise fabrics with other colours in them, like hot pink.

Still not quite there, but much better! I love the way the different colours pop out at you.

The quilt is nearly finished now, just have to put on a border. I never did get quite as brave as Catherine, but it was a great learning experience. Not to mention a lot of fun, playing with all those lovely fabrics!

Colour choices in quilting are not as simple as in most other artistic pursuits. Apart from the colour of the fabric you have to consider the scale of the print and also its “style”. Country doesn’t go with Japanese which doesn’t go with modern – even though all three may be the same colour.

Unless of course you’re one of those brave souls who combine everything willy nilly and manage to make it look good, like the inspirational Kathy from Material Obsession. I don’t think I’ll ever be that brave, but it’s fun trying!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Random (mis)firings of a tired brain

Wow. I’m more tired than I thought. I typed that heading and my brain immediately emptied. Like sticking a pin in a balloon. Pop! No more thoughts. Completely goneski. If only I could bottle that and sell it at yoga classes.

So, yes, tired. Not enough sleep – bad. Lots of exercise – good, but tiring. Too much stress, also tiring. However, there have been some wins this week. I have a story on hold at ASIM. I’ve made it this far before and still not got published, but still it’s nice. Have also submitted another story elsewhere – two stories on submission at once! Nothing to get excited about for most people but a first for me.

Baby Duck has been endearing himself lately.

“I love you, Mum.”

“I love you too, darling.”

“I’m going to Really Miss You when you’re dead.”

Ain’t that sweet? Or, as he spelled it in an email to me yesterday: “sweat”? The editor in me couldn’t help pointing out his spelling had rather changed his intent. Fortunately he found that funny.

Not much going on here except building works. Some frenzied decluttering, to stay ahead of the builders. I’m finding all sorts of amazing things. Tonight I found a couple of sheets of paper charting Drama Duck’s language development.

Ah, the joys of the firstborn child! You think you’re so busy, but you have no idea. Fancy having the time and energy to monitor the vocabulary your toddler is acquiring. Needless to say, no such chart exists for the other two.

I have no memory of it now – just as well I wrote it down. Her first full sentence was so typical – giving orders at 18 months. “No, no, puppy, don’t touch!” We also looked at baby clothes (I kept a bag for each of them of my favourite outfits) and we all squealed over how tiny their first pairs of shoes were. Alarmingly, the hat Baby Duck wore at six months fits Demon Duck’s head now. That kid sure has a big head. Must be all the brains.

Wasn’t he cute?

Moving on from memory lane, and seeing as its Wednesday, time for a Wednesday WIP report. Nothing doing on the writing front, but I’ve made a little progress with quilting.

This is one I’m working on, playing with contrast and trying to loosen up a little. The wonky stars and stripes were great fun. Drawing the trees gave me a lot of trouble. I kept making them too realistic, when I wanted something more stylised and free, something that said “tree” without getting bogged down in detail. This is the paper pattern for the first one. They won’t be white in the end but they do look rather nice like this. Maybe I should have made them white! You can be the judge when I get it finished.

It’s fun designing your own quilt. I haven’t done it for ages, but I’ve been going to a wonderful monthly workshop at Material Obsession, which always leaves me inspired and wanting to try new things. Even – gasp! – hand quilting, which I did once and decided was far too slow for me. But Kathy, the teacher, is so full of energy and enthusiasm she could talk you into anything, so that’s another project that is inching along. I must say, I find hand work very soothing when I make the time for it. It’s just that there’s always so many other things clamouring for attention!

Still, that’s not such a bad problem to have. At least it’s never boring.