Saturday, March 28, 2015

Highland Games in the Gulf Coast Flatlands

Today's weather was glorious for our plans. We were going to this years Dunedin Highland Games. Just to clarify for my friends in the UK and in New Zealand, there is a small city in Florida called Dunedin. Google it, honest, it's really there.

The sun was shining, a breeze was blowing and the expected high temperature was in the low 70's. Lovely. Our group comprised a Kennedy, a son of a Kennedy and me. It had been nearly 20 years since I had visited this Celtic Festival. It has grown and improved. We had a great time.

We saw some dancing.

We visited the Clan village.

Saw lots of cute dogs.

And a well turned out sheep or two.

Some bales were tossed over very high bars.

Some cabers were cast (but very few were turned!)

Even the fry cook at the Chippie's was well dressed.

I was also introduced to Utility Kilts that you can see here. I keep trying to make this concept make sense, but have failed so far. I guess I thought that the main reason for kilts was to display your tartan. I looked for an explanation from a shopkeeper who sported a nice twill kilt in kind of a pismuckledun shade. He said, "Well look if you wear one to the pub and spill beer on it you don't have a big dry cleaning bill." His kilt had a loop for his IPhone case and another for a neat tool pouch. Still thinking here. Maybe there are men out there who, if given a practical alternative, would opt for a Utility Kilt rather than a clan tartan (or trousers.)  What do you think?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Thank you for your patience

Those of you who have stuck with me through the Austen Family Album Quilt project so far, Thanks. It's been more than two months since I posted anything about any thing. So here I am. I have finished another block today.

Block #32 (of #36) is Ladies' Wreath in honor of Jane's sister-in-law Elizabeth. Please visit Barbara Brackman's blog here to get the story of her life and a discussion of female mortality during the Austen's time. Elizabeth died at age 35 after the birth of her 11th child.

The block which is to represent a mourning wreath for a woman like Elizabeth. Because of the solemnity of the subject I chose a dark fabric with just a touch of green in the center to accompany the basic taupe theme fabric.

You might also like to scroll through some of the more recent blog entries to see some examples submitted by people who didn't stall near the end and have actually managed to set the quilt top.

In reading through these it appears that if the sashing is kept fairly narrow (finishing at around 1.5 inches) the quilt will be Queen Size. I think I can live with that. So on I go, four more blocks to make and then I can look at further steps.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lady of the Lake, remembering Sir Walter Scott

Block #31 is called Lady of the Lake. This is the title of a poem by Sir Walter Scott who was a contemporary of Jane Austen. Read the story of their interactions here.

The block bears some similarity with a couple of previous blocks but is a degree more difficult. Lots and lots of points to match. This is the block I spoke about in the previous blog. I had difficulty with a couple of the fabrics growing when I pressed them. I took at least half of the seams apart, repressed and resewed before coming up with this:

Even though it was frustrating and has taken a really long time to complete I can't say I'm not pleased in general with the final product.

If you're keeping track of the block numbers you will see that I got slightly out of sequence. I think I am back on track now. On to #32 Ladies Wreath.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

PhD or UFO?

This might seem a strange question with no sensible answer unless you are an avid crafter/sewist/quilter. In these creative circles PhD is an acronym for "Project half done", and UFO is an "Unfinished Object."

Postings of new quilt blocks have been completed for the Austen Family Album Quilt. There have been some further postings concerning how some people are finishing their projects. If you are interested you should visit Barbara Brackman's blog here. I still have several blocks to make.

The latest one I finished is this one: Block 29 "Lend and Borrow." Not overly horrible if you really pay attention.

I'm currently working on the block called " Lady of the Lake." It is quite similar, but made more difficult because two of my fabrics have the unfortunate tendency to grow a bit with sewing and pressing. So, when I tried to put it all together I found I couldn't and have needed to unsew two sections and repress, remeasure and square up. I haven't gotten back to the sewing machine.

I have a couple of friends who would say, just do it. Get 'er done. But I have always felt a need for a "want to" in times like these.

This is probably the watershed between Projects Half Done and those that remain Unfinished. I know in my heart that I need to continue and finish this project. On the other hand I cheer myself with the thought that I don't ever need to make another quilt.

Don't be shocked. I'm a garment sewist and this quilting gig was always an experiment.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Caroline's Choice for Queen Caroline

Caroline was the second wife of George IV of England. This union was rife with scandal from the beginning and ended with her death just three weeks after the coronation. For more information about this part of British history, please visit Barbara Brackman's Blog, Austen Family Album here.

The construction of this block was fairly simple compared to some in this series and comprises four squares. Two are simple pinwheels and the other two I call hourglass blocks, though they may have another name I'm not familiar with.

The guidance for construction of the block suggested that the two colors of the hourglass should be of a light medium and a medium light value. My choice of fabrics (growing smaller all the time!) led me to this combination. I think more contrast would have been better. The photograph, despite my fiddling with it, wants to further blend the colors. The points are passably matched, so I've decided it's okay.

This is block #30, so six more to go!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Breaking the Log Jam

If I'm honest, I have to say I am well tired of this Austen Family Album Quilt project. If you have been following this blog, you will know that I have had my difficulties here and there with patchwork techniques I'd not been familiar with and with color choice and placement. I had finally managed to get to block #27 King's Crown for George III. There were difficulties with the measurements given on the blog, which our erstwhile blogger, Barbara Brackman did correct in a day or so. I had of course attempted the cut before I saw the correction, so had to re cut one piece. If you look at the examples in her blog, you will see that in my version I added another jewel to the crown.  As always if you are interested in finding out how the reign of George III affected the life and times of the Austens, please look here.

Next came Crossroads which tells the tale of Jane's acceptance at age 27 of a proposal of marriage from a 21 year-old Harris Bigg-Whither and what happened next. This blog entry describes much of the difficulty of finding a mate in this time in history.

This block as you can see involves the motif known as "Flying Geese." I've always liked the look if them but had never tried them. After getting this block cut I started the construction. That's when the log jam occurred. I sewed the triangles together in 12 little birds and then sewed one set of three together. Major Jam. It was quite uneven and crooked. I hated it and it sat in the sewing room for at least three weeks. More likely, a month. I kept thinking, if only this had been a paper piecing pattern. I knew I could have rocked it. Last week I gave drafting a paper pattern a try, but I already had the pieces cut. Theoretically I should have been able to make it work.

Today, after letting my brain work on the problem for quite a while I decided to mark where the seams should be after carefully measuring. It's not perfect, none of my blocks are, but I think it's a decent effort.

So, two more blocks down and there should be eight more to go. As my math is notoriously bad, I will consider this a good estimate and soldier on. Almost there really, considering where I've been. I have the next block cut and ready to sew. I have seen the blocks up to and including the one in yesterday's post (#36). Lots of triangles, the mention of an inset seam which I think is likely the dreaded Y-seam, renamed to sound less ominous. So a bit to go, but I must finish now that I've gotten this far, I think.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Never Fear, Dear Readers!

I have not abandoned my endeavors in completing this chronicle of the Austen Family Expressed in fiber art. I have merely fallen behind in my assignments. Again! I have not totally caught up, in fact a new block was posted yesterday, however I thought I would offer you this update just so you know it's still a going concern.

The next block in the series is titled Fanny's Favorite and commemorates the life of Jane's eldest niece, Frances Catherine Knight. If you are at all interested in learning more about the distinctions of "class" in Victorian England please read Barbara Brackman's post here.

The block itself is a bit complicated with lots and lots of little pieces. Here's how mine turned out:

Just the choosing of the colors and then cutting accurately took me a long time and if I had it to do over again... (I really doubt I ever will.)

So this road block has been surmounted. Onward and upward, another color choice conundrum. I've used up a lot of the lighter brighter colors in my collection which is causing some difficulty.