Sunday, 31 July 2011

I'm coming to eat you!

Sewing, Sunshine and the Curse of Forgetfulness.

Well, I've just sat down and gone through some photos to show you and I feel a bit silly. I've been complaining to myself most of this week (in between times of celebrating the sunshine and winning the battle against my washing) about my lack of time to sew. I feel like I spend all week holding a clingy baby and cleaning up after a newly toilet trained toddler. I feel like I never have time to try out all the ideas in my head. But these photos are evidence that that's not really the case. I still would like to lock myself in a room for 2 weeks, but maybe that wouldn't even be enough. Maybe nothing would. Maybe I would just remember all that time spent unpicking or rethreading the bobbin...

Shades of pink and white hanging in the sun.

Well, the reason I have all these photos is because I keep seeing grades of colour and light in everything. You know when you do something for a while, you start to see it everywhere? It used to happen to me when I worked on a cotton and vege farm in western NSW. Whenever I turned my head or closed my eyes I saw little clouds of cotton or walls of pumpkins. Well, this week, I've kept a bit of a photo log of the colour around me. I've seen quilts in my washing, my kids, my kids' lunch. (I tried to take a photo of that sandwich cut into triangles but Tully didn't want to wait long enough for me to grab the camera!)

Here's the clingy but adorable Eve Lily enjoying the sunshine in whites and greens:

My pins in silver and gold:

And our woolens in funky stripes:

And finally, proof that I don't just wash clothes and take photos of it:

New triangles quilt top done.

Then backed, basted and quilting started.

And my sweet little diamond quilt, put on hold while I finished Gen's rainbow one, now almost finished.

And I finally remembered to take this present to new little Pippa Faith at playgroup on Friday. And her talented mum Joanna took these for me:

There's even more in my head. I have vintage sheets I want to cut up, buttons to sew on dresses, and more, more of everything I want to make to put in my Etsy store in the next few weeks. But also, somehow, I want to have a posture of patience and thankfulness and enjoying each moment... (and if you would like to enjoy a moment with my little girl, come on over!)

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Hope, pray and cross my fingers.

Here are Zaria's new deers.
I started cutting and sewing Zaria's deers together in the post holiday bliss a couple of weeks ago. The deers and I were getting along ever so well until I realised I had cut the sleeves on the deer side too short, two inches shorter than the little birds. Urgh...

The deers and I were not to speak or even look at each other for another week or so, while I came to terms with cutting new sleeves out of that beautiful long rectangle I managed to save as leftovers.

Every time I have cut out this pattern, I have made a major mistake. I have lost a piece, I have cut out sleeves upside down (the curse of using fabric that has a right way up!), I have cut into a piece that was sneekily laying under the fabric I was cutting out. I don't know if it's because I sew when I'm tired, or I'm too rushed and enthusiastic to check or if, like last week, there are just some things in life you don't look for until you've been hit in the face with them. Either way, I am learning to take a deep breath, tell myself it's all part of learning and try not to beat myself too hard with that imaginary stick.

So this week, I decided to make peace with the deers and, as a compromise, cut a small rectangle to lengthen the sleeves. I was pretty proud of my simple idea. It's amazing how a time of calming down and letting the disaster fade allows for creativity and resourcefulness. But when I went to measure, the difference in length had disappeared! I checked and double checked. Yep. The deers had either remorsefully fixed themselves, or the fabric gods had come to visit, or maybe it was just that tired thing again.
Whatever happened, next time I come into conflict with my sewing, I will definitely be letting it sit for a week while I walk away, hope, pray and cross my fingers that when I come back with fresh motivation and patience, the disaster has either been miraculously averted or just shrunk to a very small, manageable, un-disaster-like situation. :)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Quilt finished!

Well, I've come to terms with the fact that maybe 2 finished quilts and a cute jacket was probably stretching it a bit this week but I can show you this one. This is Genevieve's Quilted Rainbow, a lap quilt to keep her all snug in the evenings in front of the tele because she has just moved from Brisbane to Canberra. Brrrrr!

 Isn't it fun? I hand quilted along the lines, sometimes on either side of the line, but soon decided that if I kept that up, I wasn't going to finish it till next century. Then I stitched around the border 3 times. For the binding, I used different fabrics from the quilt to keep it colourful.

 And here's the back! I just love that red!
I find it so hard to finish a quilt because sewing always gives me a million ideas of what else I can make. But here it is, from cold, windy Newcastle! xx

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

That Little Girl.

Oh, I can't tell you how much I wanted my next blog post to be sunny pictures of 2 beautiful, finished quilts and another cute little girl's jacket. Everyday, I have woken up and said, "Right! Today!" Everything was going to work. Tully at Amanda's house (what we call daycare). Eve sleeping up a storm. And Tim, well Tim's been sick for over a week now, so surely he'll turn a corner sometime soon, right? Wrong. Wrong on all counts except Amanda's house. But even Amanda's house can't work it's magic when a little girl doesn't want to sleep or play or doing anything but have a cuddle. And standing up, thank you.
Oh (sigh), when you have an important revelation about your place in the world and life as a parent, you expect everything to suddenly get easier, for the place to look a little brighter, for the next challenge to not be so challenging. And it did for a little while, but then it lasted longer than I planned.
One of the reasons it shouldn't have lasted so long is that Tim and I are hosting a conference this weekend for an organisation we work for(/with). But with finishing uni and well, life, we haven't done it very well. Actually, I don't think we can blame it on circumstance, but really on inexperience. And I think that's much harder to swallow.
When I was about 4, we got a new baby brother. And just this week, I remembered so strongly, after not thinking about it for ages, a little lesson I learned in pre-school. We were painting, mixing colours, as you do when you're 4. And I looked across at the girl painting opposite me, at the big brown splodge on her page and my brain made an obvious connection.
"That's the same colour as my brother's poo!" I exclaimed knowingly.
The girl was offended. She told the teacher. I got in trouble. And because adults are so bad at remembering what it was like to be little girls or boys, I could not communicate, or maybe even understand myself enough, to convince her I was not trying to be malicious.
I was stuck and embarrassed but I learnt an important lesson. You don't tell people their artwork looks like poo.
And you don't leave organising something big for when you have time.
Today, I feel like that little girl.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Clothing with Alter Ego

Sooo, what do you think?

Before I started this blog, I started sewing reversible kids clothes that I'll soon be selling on Etsy (keep your eyes peeled!). I wanted to think of a name for my store that played on the alter ego idea. My husband Tim and I have always had alter egos. Because Tim's a nerd and uses big words, he's Vocabulary Man (you have to read this with the booming voice and echo). VoCABulary MAN. And because I read a map better than any Satnav, Jodi Godfrey slips into a phone booth and comes out...Navigator Woman! Yes. I know. We are very fun.

So we sat at the computer searching... "Chalk and Cheese," "Hide and Seek" All taken and not quite what we were after.

Then we started thinking about super heroes. But how do you change Clarke Kent or Batman?

Then Tim thought of Jeckyll and Hyde. Yes!

I love the idea of reversible kids clothes, not only because you can change the colour to suit the mood, but because with not much more effort or cost, you've got double the outfits! And to me, with Tim looking for work, that's way more important.

So now you know what's behind the name!

Tickle and Hide: Clothing with Alter Ego.
Coming soon to a web browser near you!

(Thanks Anneliese Wild for my cool banner!)

Thursday, 14 July 2011

I knew as soon as I opened the back door..

...someone had cleaned my house. Really cleaned. I knew this because I think the last time my kitchen floor had been mopped was when Eve was born.  We had been down to Victoria on holidays and come back with 2 sick kids. While we were away, my friend Candy had been staying. This beautiful woman is a single mum with 2 amazing little girls, fosters newborns, came down for a break and CLEANED MY HOUSE! Right down to changing my sheets so we could just slump into bed the moment we got home.
So, thanks to her, I have had a holiday this week. I know I just got back from one, but you know what holidays are like with young kids. You only just make it out of your house and into the car without killing anyone, you visit all your old, great friends at meals times when the kids are normally asleep and you spend most of that time telling your 3 year old to stop banging, touching, yelling, jumping on his sister (poor Tully, I think he had fun!). We had rich, constantly interrupted conversations and came home ready to crash. Except you can't crash when you come home. There's washing, unpacking, and cleaning up the tornado you left behind you. 
But this time, there was no tornado. And so I've had time to play...
First, I redecorated our lounge room with all the pretty colours I've been enjoying lately.

I moved our tall bookshelf and filled it with our DVDs, coffee table books and quilts - everything you want in a lounge room!
I uncovered some old frames I still hadn't unpacked when we moved here nearly 2 years ago. This is a line drawing on a pastel design I did years ago. It says, "I long to order, I long to create, I long to impact, I long to speak." The jar is one Tully made for me, stuffed with fabric scraps.

I turned this...
...into this! (well kind of. I sewed most of the top before we left with the help of Super Iron Lady, or Anneliese) This week, I've been able to sew the border on, attach the 3 layers (top, wadding and back) together and...
...start quilting (stitch the layers together) by hand.
I put turned our ugly filing cabinet into a nice sitting corner in our studio...
...and put a pretty picture in the bathroom. (Don't you just love the colours coming through from the red flowers on the tree behind the window?)
Then, wouldn't you know it? Candy doesn't like eggs so couldn't enjoy the rewards of feeding our chooks for us! And she left this cream behind.
So today, Tully and I made raspberry ice-cream!
And last but not least, these adorable jackets, made for her girls have been sitting around, enjoying the admiration of everyone, but were not yet complete. They needed buttonholes, a skill I have put off learning for months, because I was afraid of ruining the beautiful things I'd put so much work into. And here they are, all finished and not ruined. Aren't they great?!   

Candy called this week to apologise for not being able to leave money. But this is way better, don't you think?

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Toilet Door

I think I've had a lightbulb moment this week. And I am just on the cusp of being able to put it into words.
I think it started about 3 years ago when the beautiful baby I'd always wanted turned out not to be the experience I'd always imagined. I didn't expect to be bored. And not the kind of bored where you have nothing to do but the kind where you have lots to do and none of it is what you want to be doing. I had a 'rule book' I'd been given that I was following but he wasn't. Every week I'd turn up to new mums group trying to look like I had it together, that I was enjoying this. But I also came empty handed. How did they all have time to bake? To sew? To make it to the cafe with a nappy bag that was actually full and useful. I was just getting my head around having time to eat.

Then I went back to uni. Ahhh.. I thought. I know how to do this. And I did it very well. I studied post-war women and the books that taught them how to raise their children, find satisfaction in their homes, make love to their husbands, wash, iron, cook and clean, and all in high heels.
And it started me thinking, maybe this idea of the perfect homemaker wife didn't start in Bible times (an idea which gave it some credibility to me) but in my grandmother's times. Maybe we (Tim and I) could decide, in light of our preferences and values, how we wanted our life to work. But what did that mean now that I couldn't press rewind or sell him on eBay?
It sounds awful, but it's really how I felt. My preference was not to be washing, feeding, changing, washing all day, but my values included feeling uncomfortable with putting him in full time daycare. I was stuck. Don't get me wrong, I liked him, he was cute. It was just the job that I felt I didn't choose.
Exciting toys (vacuum cleaner included) are left behind
to seek out the exciting cords hidden behind the fridge.

Fast forward to the week I wrote about in my last post: 2 kids, bad back, busy husband. How is this possibly worth it, I asked myself. And then I remembered some of the things that made it. It started a bit of a process of rethinking what I'd been blogging about, how I'd been seeing things.
Then we travelled down to chilly Victoria last week for a rich, people-filled, kids-not-sleeping type holiday. We visited the kind of people who have quotes on their toilet door. The kind who don't have a TV in their living room. Who drink tea and find beautiful things in op shops and apologise for the mess (but their house doesn't feel messy, it just feels warm).
One of the quotes on the toilet door was by C.S. Lewis, one of my favourite authors. It said, "If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth, only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair."
It's pretty heavy, I know. And probably doesn't seem to relate, but it reminded me of a saying by an ancient Jewish prophet who said something along the lines of, "If you want to save your life, you'll lose it. But those who lose their life for something bigger than themselves will find it."
Roses from my thoughtful, generous friends.

And that started me thinking that maybe 6 months (or 20+ years) of sleepless nights and days lying on the couch and trips to the emergency ward at 2am for an asthma attack, to create a whole, new person might be worth it. And that as I learn to let go of my agenda, I'll be able to see something beautiful (in me and around me) I might otherwise have missed.
Do you agree?