Linear marks

A palette of thread colours for one area.

I’m still experimenting with the order I stitch the different colours. I used to start with the mid-tone. Often I ran out of room for the highlights & lowlights. If I start at one end of the range sometimes I don’t make it to the other end. 
Recently I’ve been starting with the lightest colour. Then switching to the darkest. Alternating light and dark, moving toward finishing in-fill using the mid-tone. This seems to be working well. 

Lightest threads stitched, beginning the darkest

It never ceases to amaze me how the thread stitches out on a white ground -darker and less colourful than it appears on the reel. Experimenting is essential!


In the twinkling of an eye

Picture me, merrily quilting away, when suddenly, BANG! Snapped needle! 

Top section still in the machine, pointy eye end still on the thread…midsection flying past my eye at high speed.

Not a very nice sensation at all. 

 It’s far from the first time I’ve broken a needle, and once again I’m considering wearing safety glasses while i quilt.

However, if I’m honest, ALL my broken needles have come from my own unforced actions or neglect of good machine use. This time I’d recently changed to the quilting foot (lower left picture) and hadn’t tightened the locating screw enough. The screw loosened, foot moved sideways meaning the hole in the clear plastic was no longer in the right place for the needle to pass through into the quilt. So the needle attempted to make a new hole…

It’s a bit of a dilemma. If i get safety glasses, i have to remember (choose) to wear them. Or I can remember (choose) to take care *every* time I touch the machine.  

Tools are cool

I love to use the right tool for the job. I love tools that are well-made and support me in my making. Here are three of my favourites:

 A “butcher’s knife” by Mr John Russell who took great care in helping me select exactly the right one. It has transformed my culinary practice. You can get your own effortless slice of his action at the Coatesville Market

  A thimble! I could never use one until Debby Williams’ hand-quilting class. Debby taught me how to select a thimble to fit and use it comfortably. She also kindly gifted this one, still my favourite.

My Singer Featherweight sewing machine (stop looking at the kitten! That’s Tiny #Catmate, I’ll tell you about her another day)

Miss Feathers is a delight: compact, sturdy, portable and sews the most perfect straight stitch.

What are your favourite tools?

I prefer to change my own tyre

  I like to be able to do stuff. If you can change your own tyre, you aren’t waiting around for someone else to do it for you.

The more you can do…the more you can do. So I like to learn all sorts of odd off-beat things, building my competence, preparedness, strength, and resilience. You never know what bits will fit together to solve a problem or create a new possibility.

Learning from a person is a great way to build a relationship with them, and to appreciate their wider mastery.  

It takes a few goes sometimes. My bread is unforgettable for all the wrong reasons…but I think I know where to find a master who will give me a demo. I’ll keep working on it.

I’m perfectly capable of changing my own tyre – without wrecking my manicure – if I can get the wheelnuts undone. So, I build in some resilience with an AA membership – the most recent mechanic who met me at the roadside taught me a Protip for the too-tight wheelnut problem too 😊

Lots of quilting!

It’s easy to gauge my progress with the quilting pile. Full safety pin tin = not too many quilts waiting. There have been a few times I’ve needed to go to the store for more pins…
Some people prefer a spray or iron-in glue to hold the layers together, finding pins hard on the hands. I make too much mess with glues! A teaspoon takes the pain out of closing all those pins.


Knitters’ delight: perfect tubular ribbing cast-on

For a change, I share this technique learned two-thirds of a lifetime ago. Credit to Heather Halcrow Nicholson

1. Using any contrast yarn and speedy method, cast on HALF the number of desired stitches.
2. Knit one row in contrast.
3. In proper project yarn, knit 5 rows Stocking Stitch, beginning and ending with knit rows.
Now for the cool bit. 
4. P1 from the needle, move the yarn to the back.
5. With the left needle, pick up the bottom-most loop of project yarn where it pokes down below the contrast.
6. Knit this stitch. Move yarn to the front.
Repeat steps 4-6, alternating purling from the needle with knitting from the bottom row of project yarn loops, until all stitches have been purled from the needle. 
Voila! The knit stitches have created the tube and you have the correct number of stitches. Continue in k1, p1 rib as required. Unpick/snip out the contrast yarn whenever you like.