Tuesday, December 2, 2014

“What day is it?", asked Winnie the Pooh "It's today," squeaked Piglet "My favourite day," said Pooh”

Hello again. It's been a three weeks and here I am again.
The surgery went well but it's a pretty brutal surgery
and recovery takes time.  The new joint is working well,
I just have to wait for the bone and large incision to heal up.
I have matching scars now, one on each hip.

I discovered that you can sew bindings on quilts
while lying flat on your back and so that is what I have been doing.
To date, I have completely finished 12 of the 16 Beyond Neutral quilts
and they are looking amazing.
We are making plans to take pictures of them in February
and they will be posted somewhere for all to see
(I'll let you know nearer the time where they are going)

Recovery is frustrating and slow
and it is hard to be patient.
I feel like I've been an observer of life for so long
and now I want to get out there and be in it!

I've noticed something interested though
as I lie on the sofa, sew bindings on quilts
and watch the family do their thing.
It seems to me that sometimes we need to let go of the bigger picture
and just focus on the little things here and now.

When times are difficult, it is possible to be thankful for fresh flowers and sunshine
and much more important than agendas and timetables.
To enjoy a freshly baked cake with a hot cup of tea
puts a smile on your face more than plans for the future.

Life is about finding the balance between these two things,
the big and the little.
But I realise now, that in the hard times,
when each day stretches out long and painful,
to focus on the little details and enjoy those,
is actually the way forward.

You don't notice the change day to day,
but looking back over a week you realise that things are better.
All those little moments carry you forward
while you wait for the big changes to occur.

I've sewed the binding down on this quilt in the last week or two as well,
it's a lovely quilt, although funny enough,
it doesn't photograph well as a big picture.
This quilt is all about the little details and the tiny pictures.

I'm sending it away today, to a dear dear friend in Australia,
who needs a reminder to enjoy the little things
while the hard times are passing.
It goes with all my love.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

See you on the other side....

Tomorrow is D-Day for me, I'm going in at the crack of dawn
to get my shiny new hip. If you are the praying sort, 
please pray that it goes as smooth as smooth as can be.
All good thoughts welcomed.
Even though I'm super keen to get this done and get to rejoin life again,
I am of course, anxious about the actual surgery and recovery which
is not the most fun thing to sign up for.

Anyway it's going to be great.
I'll be back in the space in a week or three!

Love to you all xox

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A memo to myself about: Good Intentions....

A couple of days ago I was going out our door when I noticed this.
A bee on a plate with a glass on top.
I imagine a small child "rescued" him from buzzing against a window somewhere
and fully intended to set him free,
but then got sidetracked, maybe by a toilet stop
or maybe by a friend arriving and put said bee down and completely forgot.

Leaving the bee to sit, ironically on the pile of good intentions 
by our door (things we fully intend to give back to people), 
buzzing futilely against the glass until it died.

It did not help the bee to think that the small child
fully intended to come back and set them free,
or that they got sidetracked by something really really important.
It died anyway.

That's the thing about good intentions.
They suck.
On the other hand, even small amounts of action can make a difference.
See this pompom Annie is wearing,
she worked away at it for nearly two years in handwork.
Every week or two on a Thursday
she wound another wee piece of wool around the pompom
until finally the thing was finished.

Her good intentions did not finish the pompom,
but her actions did.

I've left the bee by the door for a while,
to remind me that good intentions help no one,
but even the smallest action can encourage someone else.

As a wise man once said...

"Children, let us love not with words and talk, but with actions and in reality!"

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The rough part of any challenge: just before you finish....

 I try and be fairly honest on the blog here
and not just show a glossy picture of how things are.
So I thought I'd just share a bit of how I'm going with my challenge
and the rough spot I've hit with it.

This week I made a quilt from the book with what I thought was a winning combination
and in my mind it was going to be the best quilt I've ever made.

Yeah. Well when I made it, the picture in my head and the actual quilt
did not go together and I was deeply disappointed with the result.
I messaged Juliet and said I wanted to cry
because I was so sure it was going to work out just like in my head
and clearly it had not.

I realise that I may have be over reacting and it might turn out fine,
but I still felt disappointed with myself when I faced the last four quilts.
The next one I made a mistake when I was sewing on the borders,
but then I thought it was ok, so I trimmed it up and it will be fine.

Then I had to face one that should be the easiest in the book,
called Raven Rock. But because the dimensions of this thing are so big
and my cutting mat is 23 inches wide, and because that required me to do actual maths,
this thing was doomed from the start.

Also I am trying to make as many of these quilts as possible from stash
and I had some kiddie prints left over from the year I made 30 odd pillowcases
and I thought I could make it work.

Turns out that my maths + cutting skills suck in a big way,
and possibly I can't even count to 10 without making a mistake
and so the end result is a quilt with multiple flaw 
that can never turn out like the picture in John's book.

In fact I managed to completely miss one entire column
(who the heck does that?) and of course I don't have any fabric to match
but I've managed to cobble the poor thing together anyhow.

A blind man might like it. Who knows.
Or a homeless person.

It will lie flat, I just couldn't be bother pressing it by the time it was together
and I realised what a complete failure it is. 

Anyway. I'm trying to tell myself that making something that fails
does not make me a failure, just someone who needs to keep practicing.

I now have one week left before I have surgery
and the last two quilts to make which look fairly difficult,
including one that scares me (Fallen Timbers)
and one I don't like that much (Glimmerdust).

You always get to the point in a challenge
where you feel like giving up and that you won't make it.

Right now that is the point I'm at.
I've made some quilts that are lovely
and some with some flaws that don't matter,
but then I've made one where I got the colour so wrong
and one where I got the construction so wrong.

It makes me second guess my ability at all.

I realise that some of you reading this are falling off your sofas laughing
and wondering why I think this, when clearly I can turn out some good quilts.

But I just want to be honest here,
this is exactly how I'm feeling. I feel like I'm not good enough.
I really wanted to make quilts that honoured John's patterns
and some of mine really don't do that.
I'm disappointed in myself.

But I am not going to give up and 
I am going to push through and make those last two quilts.

And lets face it, I've always said,
a wonky quilt still keeps you warm.

For better or worse....

Today Chrissy and I went to a fun and beautiful wedding
or our friends Abby and Manpreet.

It was a lovely mix of Kiwi tradition with some Indian spice!
It ran like clockwork but it was full of laughs.
It was perfect.

There is lots of talk at weddings about give and take,
and about not keeping track of wrongs
and about being partners.

There's lots of talk about finding the right person to love
and wanting to be with them for the rest of your life.

I guess I'm not really an expert on the whole falling in love,
hearts and flowers stuff really,
but I have been loving the same man for over 22 years.
I guess the thing that I think being married to someone is....

That you have to be more determined to stay together
than to be apart.

This means that when they annoy the s*** out of you
and you just want to dig one of those shallow graves in the backyard;
being married means you promise to love the other person through all of that.

Being married isn't all hearts and flowers
(though how cute it is to go to a wedding full of that, amazing!)
being married is being too stubborn to give up on the other person.

That's what love is.
Never giving up on your mate,
and never stopping from wanting them in your life.
No matter what.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Groundhog day

So it is less than two weeks till I get my shiny new hip now
and I've pretty much finished my last essay.
I'm applying for an aegrotat pass for my final exam.
It is all coming together really. I can't wait to get my life back.

On Saturday I watched the movie Groundhog day,
I'm guessing I'm the last person on the planet to watch it.
It's a movie about an self-centred man, Phil Connors, who gets stuck on one day
which he lives over and over again.

I love the way that he tried to come to terms with his day
which he lived over and over again.
At first he went a bit crazy, broke the law,
had mad sex and did whatever he liked.

But then as time went on, Phil realised that he could change his responses,
and he tried to win the girl he loved by being the perfect self-centred man.
He tried over and over and never succeeded.
He learned give the correct answers by rote
but he didn't really change his self-centred attitude to life.

But then he started using his time to learn new skills,
as he lived his day over and over, he learned about the people around him,
he learned to play the piano, he learned how to be a good friend.
He learned to genuinely care.

I'm sure you have all seen the movie, so you will know how it ends,
with a man who has learned to be human and to love others just because he can.
It's great. And it's kind of quite topical for me too.

Currently I'm living groundhog day.
It's the same day after day.
I study, I sew. 
I spend a load of time in bed when my hips get too sore to walk.
I'm either at Uni or at home and not much else.

I hope that I can be like the Phil in the movie,
using my time wisely. It's true that I've read books for my essay that I would not
usually have made the time to read. 
I've made myself the challenge to make all the quilts in John's book.

But it is more than that, I hope that as I live my days over and over again,
that I don't forget the lessons I'm learning through pain 
and through spending hours quietly by myself.

I'm learning to enjoy life through the eyes of others
and to listen to their stories and to enjoy them.

As a wise old man said once....

“Returning and resting is what will save you;
calmness and confidence will make you strong"

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Take one quilt pattern, make three blocks and......

So you brought the book (I know loads of you have!)
and you want to make something but you don't have time to make a quilt
or you don't have money to buy the fabric
or there's just too much and you don't know where to start??

Well make a Half Moon Bay table runner!

I was given this little pile of Christmas fabric, 
all shapes and sizes and I worked out it would be perfect for this project.
You don't have to make it Christmas,
it's just that I had this pile and didn't know what to do with it.

I didn't have enough of the spot, 
so I cut my squares from the small piece of red that I had
and it turned out to be a happy accident
because it gives a whole new look to the pattern.

See? it's different but it works.
Anyway just use what you have - four fat quarters
and half a metre/yard of yardage and you should be fine.

I didn't have enough of the spot for the long sides either,
so I got this teeny star fabric. Lucky I like a scrappy look
and I really like using what I have!

Look at that, perfect for our table.
It's not following the pattern exactly
and it's using what I had, but it doesn't matter in the scheme of things
because it makes our table look bright and cheerful.

It was hard not to take a million photos!!
I think these would make awesome gifts
and with the end of the school year fast approaching (in the southern hemisphere)
I'm pretty sure they would make great teacher gifts too.

But wait there's more...

If you take a vintage pillowcase and some leftover yardage,
you can make just one block and make a lovely centrepiece.

Yes you can! and you can quilt it in an evening
because I did last night while I watched the sun go down.

I used just two fabrics but of course you can use as many as you like,
in fact while I was lying in bed this morning
I was plotting to make one from scrappy 2/12" squares.

See same pattern, completely different look.

Really wanted to take another 100 photos of this because it looks so good.
It's so quick, you can make one while you ponder what else to make from the book.

I have plans for more things. Yes I do.
You gotta love a book that inspires you to make more stuff
with what you have lying about, isn't that right?

Who is going to make one of these this weekend?