Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kaffe Fassett revisited

A few months ago I went along to a Kaffe Fassett workshop and learned a lot. And then life happened and I never got to finish my quilt, even though I had very good intentions of having it all made and quilted by winter. But on Friday I bit the bullet and cut the rest of the diamonds out.

Kaffe Fassett diamonds quilt - in progress

I then created a new temporary design wall in the spare bedroom. Except I have a friend coming to stay next weekend. If that isn't enough incentive to get this quilt sewn together, I don't know what is. If you're familiar with the quilt, you'd see that I have cut diamonds for the outer border (the bright blue and pink spot) so that I can trim them straight later on. In the book, Kaffe says I should be cutting out shapes from templates so they "fit in" the gaps, but I am refusing to take sewing advice from someone who doesn't even sew his own quilts. Fabric wastage be damned.

Kaffe Fassett diamonds quilt - in progress

A quilter friend told me a couple of months ago about pressing your seams open - she'd been to a workshop with Brenda Henning where this had been discussed. A few text messages flew back and forth between us this afternoon, and I decided to give it a go.  Unfortunately it didn't work out as well as I wanted it to, mainly because of the diagonal seams doing my head in a little. So the seams are now pressed to one side.

This is my little finger pressing tool*. It's brilliant - and it beats using an iron (which only stretches your fabrics anyway - I leave my ironing until larger segments are sewn together).

Kaffe Fassett diamonds quilt - in progress

There are a lot of pins used in making this quilt. I want to make the effort in trying to make my points match up (I am failing at this, but Brianna has already made her quilt from the class and assures me it will all work out in the end!)

Kaffe Fassett diamonds quilt - in progress

It's very slow going. This quilt is testing both my patience and my ability to eyeball a 1/4 inch seam and pin through it. I shall persevere though, if only for the fact that I think it will look spectacular once it's done. And once it's done I can get on with making more quilts.

*In case you were wondering, it's a Clover pressing tool.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Recovery is awful. I'm sure it would be a pleasant place to be if you were a sloth or a hibernating bear, but when you are someone like me who is usually on the go all the time, with a finger in every pie and doing three things at once, it's just frustrating. You want to do things, but your body just won't let you. I used to be able to swim 20 laps at the pool. Now a walk to the local shops and back is a massive achievement (worthy of a two hour nap afterwards).

This week I had a little breakthrough, both in mind and body. I decided to get back on the crochet testing bandwagon again - last year I tested a couple of shawls for designers and it was a lot of fun. There are deadlines, negotiations, and deciphering of instructions. So I took on a small project to start with - a Ruffled Clutch Purse, by Chocolate Mints in a Jar. It was pretty quick - crocheted in a couple of hours.

Ruffled Clutch purse

It's lined and has a zipper. I think it's pretty cute, although probably not the easiest thing to crochet when you have a normally tight gauge.

Ruffled Clutch purse

I am now crocheting another shawl for my friend Patricia to go with her red cowl from the other day - it's called Solveig and I'm using Carrie's Fibrewebs Silky Merino sock yarn. I'm not a purple lover, but I'm loving this colour. It reminds me of bruised grapes.

Solveig scarf in progress

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dear Patricia

I made you this crocheted cowl* for winter. I hope you like it. There are a number of ways you can wear it, as you'll see. But don't be limited by my lack of imagination (and the photographer's impatience when I was modelling it) - I'm sure you'll have fun finding ways for the cowl to keep you warm.

You can leave it loose and casual.


Or you can pin it up against your neck. You can use a shawl pin, or a brooch, or a chopstick. Or rely on the yarn sticking to itself. If you wear a coat over the top, this is perfect.


Or you can pull it up to also keep your nose and ears warm, or to hold up your local bank. Whatever suits.


Lots of love
Michelle xo

* Specs for those of you who aren't Patricia: The pattern is Cowlin' Around by Deborah Atkinson and it's not only a freebie but a great pattern. The yarn is Fibreworks hand dyed 4 ply 100% wool. It's a lovely yarn, but I have never used a Fibreworks yarn that didn't bleed like nobody's business when it was being soaked. Patricia - don't wear a white jacket with this cowl on a rainy day!  Hook was 2.5 mm which was the smallest I had used in a while and by jingo it might have made me go cross-eyed. But I loved making this and I am going to make myself one, perhaps with some polwarth undyed, or 8 ply alpaca or something. You should make one too.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Besides the traumatic memories of my ordeal (and a lifelong friendship formed with my roomie Pat) I brought home something else from hospital three weeks ago. No, not a raging staph infection. It's called a t-tube. Sure, it sounds cute, but I'm not at all fond of it, except for the fact it is keeping me alive. It has to stay attached to me and my bile duct for at least 6 weeks after surgery, and is there for testing and any further blockages or cases of jaundice. And as my adorable surgeon keeps reminding me - if it comes out, I need another operation.

God help me - I don't ever want another operation like that again.

When I first came home, the t-tube was clamped and attached to my tummy with dressings and tapes by the community nurses who look after me a few times a week. Guess who's massively allergic to all dressings and tapes? Yes - that would be me. Allergies mean blisters mean infections, and so the dressings were abandoned and my waist was effective bandaged* to keep the tube together.


I knew there was a better solution. I had an idea to make a tube of stretch fabric to hold the main section of tube to my stomach, and a pocket for the extra clamped length which could then be tucked inside the tube when worn. I used some stashed stretch fabric, and got to work.


So now I have a very comfortable alternative to the bandage.


(needs some applique, or puff paint)
This is actually the first sewing project I have undertaken since I went into hospital at the beginning of May. And I can't believe I made something so utilitarian and ugly rather than something warm or beautiful or (publicly) wearable. The white is a bit boring though, and given I have to wash these every day, I'm going to make the next two sets a bit more exciting.


Love stripes.

*I say "bandaged" but what it really comprised of was the cut-off top of a stretchy adult diaper, courtesy of ACT Health. It was kind of embarassing, but also laughable. Because I've discovered if you can't laugh at your predicament, you cry and that's no fun at all.