A productive weekend

Well the retreat was yet again a wonderful time away just chatting and catching up with friends while we busily tried to get through as much sewing / knitting / painting / stitching etc as we could.
My position for the weekend was not too different from last year … and even though I thought I was being more selective in my selections I think I ended up taking even more up than last year.

Packing for the retreat

This year my focus was to get some sewing done.. to finally finish my sampler quilt top and then see what happened. Friday saw the quilt top finished without too much effort but a lot of whining on my part about how hard the mitred corners were. I know they weren’t that hard but they were fiddly. I am quite surprised at how large this top has turned out it is well and truly at least a DB size and is now proving to be quite a daunting prospect for quilting.

completed sampler quilt top

I thought I had ideas about what I wanted to do for the quilting but really I am still at an incredible loss as to where to start. Just how are you meant to go about selecting a quilting design.. I think the technical aspect of it I will be able to work out but the design selection… that has left me completely at a loss and not just for this top.
The other big achievement for me this weekend was I started and finished the space quilt kit that I picked up at Pick up Stitches in Kyneton… the thing that tipped me over the edge finally in starting quilting. I mean really who can go past space and glow in the dark stars! Friday afternoon and evening was all the panel trimming and getting the pieces ready.. lots and lots of measuring to be sure before cutting as the kit did not have much excess fabric if I made a mistake… in some instances there was no room for error. There is one alteration in the fabric which is a substitution of a deep purple border rather than a bright orange around each of the picture panels I mean really there is no way I was putting bright orange in this quilt.

Saturday I got everything pieced and stitched together and then Sunday before having to pack up and go I managed to get the borders done… so there we go a completed top form start to finish in one weekend… that sure was a surprise.

Space Quilt Top

As with the other one I have no idea where to start with the quilting on this… the centre panel is one large piece so just in the ditch won’t be enough it will need some kind of filling design… what and how to do it.. that really is the question. Maybe I’ll ask my head of science (who is a quilter) to help me with some inspiration and help. I know that if I don’t take these in to school on Monday for show and tell I’ll be in trouble πŸ˜€

In addition to these there was a little bit of stitching (i’ll update a picture of violet soon I promise), some reading, and absolutely no knitting … woops.
There is already talk of doing this again next year but we may try a new place I have a lead on a similar set up down at Apollo Bay… stitchy retreat with a view of the ocean.. Yes Please!

The beginnings of a tradition?

So last year the usual suspects and myself went on a little retreat you may have read about it here.

Well all good things should happen more than once and we all decided that a repeat of the even was in order. For a while it looked like the place we went to last year would be booked out but fortune favoured us and well we got a booking for this coming weekend. It has been a long slow buildup but finally it is the eve before the retreat and I am uber excited.

I have packed way too much stuff (not everything) but still way too much. There are at least three no four quilting projects o_O some knitting and even some stitching as well as a whole bucket load of food (and we said we would take it easy with the food this time lol). The tequila, lime, cointreau and salt are packed, cider, wine and even some non-alcoholic beverages are along for the ride too.

What will I work on…who knows? Originally I had hoped to sew some garments this weekend but I have been very ill for just over a week so didn’t get myself kitted out enough for that really (aka no zippers, interfacing and all the essential bits to make a garment all garmenty).
So… what does that leave me with.. A LOT!
I have packed the space quilt kit that tipped me over the edge on the whole quilting thing even though I haven’t even started it yet, my hexie templates and fabric for the quilt I talked about last post… my sampler quilt to hopefully finish those corners and the spare fabric from said quilt to make some extra blocks for practicing the whole final quilting stage. Hmm there is also a Jinny Beyer table runner kit and that’s just the quilt bits.

Last year I thought I packed a lot.. this year well I’ve simply out done myself .. it’s good to have options though .. right?

So wish me luck who knows there may even be a few updates on projects long forgotten when I get back.

This was where I started from last year.. I hope we all fit around the table this year πŸ˜€

Retreat beginnings 2012

Tending toward the surreal

I am a big fan of optical illusions, as a teenager I often traced or copied numerous pieces of M.C. Escher’s art into my diaries or just coloured in photocopies of them. I really can’t remember how many times I have played around with the devils and angels metamorphosis.Β It isn’t just Escher’s work though I have always loved looking at images that create optical illusions. Some work on me some don’t because of the whacked out focal problems I have with my eyes but to me all are fascinating… the way that the brain can take a set scope of information and twist it and interpret it in different ways.

What does this have to do with anything… well since falling down the rabbit hole of quilting I have toyed with the idea of doing a tumbling blocks quilt, there are a number of beautiful examples that can be found here. I also had in my mind that the next quilt I did I wanted it to be in reds/ greys and blacks and be predominantly made from a single repeating block. So skip to a few weeks ago (ok maybe longer) with a need to procrastinate from a number of other things including tackling the mitred corners on my sampler quilt border and it became imperative I play around with quilt ideas NOW!

I had a puzzle box template and a variety of different templates for pieces hexagons from when Sharon and I visited the Australasian Quilters Convention so I decided I could feel good about my purchases and start using them. I played around with the scanner and photoshop trying different layouts for hexies until frustration drove me to coloured pencils and some old school cut and paste. I think it really was essential to map out how this design was going to look on paper first as the effect is all in the shadings of the fabrics and the way the pieces come together.

Sharon and I were set to have a sewing day so a detour to GJs for some retail therapy and stash enhancement saw me determined to select fabrics for my design. It took a long time and eventually I came home without two of the colours I needed (the lightest grey and the mid tone red) thankfully a quick rummage through my stash sorted out that problem by providing the perfect light grey batik and a blood red fossil fern that was exactly between the other two I selected at the store.



After seeing them together I am really happy with the colour choices. The hexies are ~6inch final size once pieced (including seam allowances on each outer edge) and I have decided to do what I think will be a 10 x 12 hexie quilt. 120 in total and so many corner seams to line up will be tricky.

I’ve started cutting the pieces and have decided to cut everything out before starting to ensure I have ample of each of the fabrics. Last thing I want is to get almost to the end and discover I don’t have enough and the fabric is no longer available. (I have already ordered an extra yard of the light grey as I only had 1 yard in my stash and it was short by about 20cm from what I needed).

The Beginnings

As you can see in the above picture I did sew one hex together to see how my fabric selections worked. It was a tricky beast and I will need to figure a few things out if I am going to be happy with the results.. you can see on the bottom point where the red and grey join that one of my seams is not quite right… something to work on. The colours though I am super happy with and think it will make a really impactful design once all 120 are tiled together. The 3D effect will hopefully be truly visible giving that optical illusion I was after.

As of today I still have quite the ways to go with cutting. The light grey pieces (240 of them ) are completed with about 100 of the mid grey done and 55 of the mid red. Holding the templates and cutting makes for very sore hands after a while, about 120 pieces in one cutting session is my limit so there is a long way to go before the construction of the project really gets going. Yet another very long term project to add to my collection. I guess I’ll need to stop procrastinating on finishing that sampler top and deciding on some quilting designs to get it all finished in between hexie hell.

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