Celebrating the “small” victories.

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To anyone who has Meniere’s life can be a little more challenging than usual for – well, pretty much everything really. Our poor brains have to work so much harder than most other people’s – and that’s just to be able to do stuff most everyone does without thinking – things like not falling over, staying level, walking, staying balanced, keeping vision steady, hearing, having a Hot Chocolate and fellowship with friends etc.

stress-864141_960_720Because of all the extra workload, the brain then uses other parts of our brain to keep us going  from places that are normally accessed for memory, attention etc. So we get fatigued, we forget things, and our concentration span can be….. minimal…. or non-existent.

Quite honestly, the reason we suffer constant fatigue is because the brain gets tired. It’s like the brain says “Hey! Gimme a break, don’t make me work so hard for normal stuff, it’s not fair! Give me some left over for other things!” and then chucks a massive tanty!

Is it any wonder then that we like to celebrate – nay, to savour – little victories when they come along? Well no. I can tell you now – some of the quizzical looks we get when we wallow in our triumph are priceless. dizzy-148161__180

Then there are the ones who respond with looks of derision and even contempt. You can even guess at their thoughts. Thoughts like “Big deal, so they got a tray out of the deep bottom kitchen drawer and didn’t face plant or have to be pulled out! No one I know of has ever fallen into a cupboard or a deep drawer!” Really, is that so? Maybe you don’t know someone with Meniere’s, because it does happen folks, and more often than you think. Just the sheer effort of trying NOT to can only be appreciated by a fellow sufferer. Hence our seemingly over-the-top delight in managing the smallest of things.

All of this is to introduce my latest post. This blog is about Quilting and Crafting with Meniere’s – not simply about Quilting and Crafting. Unless people have a Vestibular Disorder they simply do not understand the constant struggle to even function.

head-607480_960_720.jpgSo…… Yesterday, after 2 sleepless nights due to illness, I decided to try English Paper Piecing for the first time… Yep, that technique where you sew on one side of the paper, whilst having the fabric on the other side face down, have the fabric on the opposite side to what you are going to cover to sew the seam etc etc. It’s sort of all back to front and upside-down all at once.

In my groggy, sleep-deprived stupor and using a fuzzy kind of logic I figured that if I could manage this when I could barely stand up, think or keep my eyes open – then I should be able to do it on a “normal” day.

horses-1348616_960_720.jpgI still can’t believe I thought it was a good idea at the time. I must have been more off my face than I thought!

Just think about it again for a second. I have a Vestibular Disorder, was sleep deprived and virus ridden on top of it deciding to try something for the first time that needs concentration, the ability to think and not only that but to think backwards and in reverse at the same time? Are you just starting to see the enormity of me even trying EPP? And why I’m so excited to have pulled it off?

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Amazingly – I did pull it off! To a person who becomes momentarily disoriented just from going through a doorway because of Meniere’s, it was quite euphoric!

Yes, I know it wasn’t like finding a way to end world hunger or ridding the world of Rabies – and those would be incredible things – but in the context of being vestibularly challenged, sleep deprived and totally under siege from a rabid virus – it was just as epic!

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And so, I rejoice in my “small” victory and hope and pray there will be many more in the future. It would be a sad day if I ever get to the place that has me unable or unwilling to accept a new challenge….

So, here it is again. Colours were completely chosen at random out of my bag of scrap fabric in case it turned out badly. After some basic quilting it morphed into this Mug Rug for one of my daughters.

Happy Tea Drinking Sweetie!

This project used Block 29 of The Splendid Sampler Quilt-along 2016.
Here is a link to the page:
http://www.thesplendidsampler.com/

 

Progression, Regression and forestalling regret.

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Sometimes – things just don’t go as expected…. a long anticipated trip goes pear-shaped, a much looked for meeting does not give the wished-for result, and sometimes, well sometimes a worked on project just goes a little or a lot – awry.

Having Meniere’s means that everything we ever do is more of a challenge than it used to be, so sometimes trying something new can give…….. interesting results. So it is with my Scrappy Mountains Quilt. Trying out FMQ on my 1913 Singer 15K-88 treadle I discovered that, the more I’d done, the more confident I became, and…… the closer stippled! So happy was I to be nearing the end, I happened to look at all I’d done to admire it and spur me on to the end. As my eyes roved smugly over the quilt, they landed onto the first few rows I did. I was horrified! The stippling was much larger, and looked clumsy and ugly to my eyes, where the closer stitched stipples looked less clumsy and more meandering and – to me – more aesthetically pleasing.

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Hence my dilemma. I told myself “It’s a practice quilt, it’s only for me, so it doesn’t matter.” and immediately started thinking how I could use it so that I can hide the differences in the stitching, and where I could put it in the house so that no-one could see how ugly it looked!  I knew straight away that I couldn’t leave the way it was.  I would only regret it. I steeled myself to spend some long and tedious hours unsewing.

Yes, it will be slow, tedious and seemingly never-ending to do, but this regression is a necessary exercise. It’s but a small thing in comparison to years of regret that I’d feel every time I looked at the quilt.

Quilting has many parallels to life and this is one of them. Sometimes, progression requires regression as part of the journey. It’s like righting a wrong – it must be done! It’s always harder to do, but things will never be right unless you put in the effort to correct it. Things will always be much better afterwards – and with no “what ifs,”  no ” I wish I hads,” no “I wish I’d nevers.” By doing so you can forestall regret.

Scrappy Mountains progress.

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I’ve had my Scrappy Mountains quilt in the works now for some time. As it’s for me, I’m not locked into a tight deadline, so it’s taken a back row seat to other more important projects. Progress has been made however, albeit slow.

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Helga – my 1940 Singer 15K-88 treadle just ploughs through the free motion quilting! I may never FMQ on a modern machine ever again! What a gal! What a machine!

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What gorgeous variegated Gutermann cotton thread! The colour is #4004 if you really want some for yourself!

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I’ve still got a ways to go, but I have progressed.

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Rosie, my gorgeous gal from 1913 got her spa treatment on the week-end, and hubby helped me fix her bobbin winder. I love watching Rosie wind her bobbins!

Also, I was able to fix Helga’s bobbin winder as well, because the only thing she couldn’t do well was wind her bobbins…. she always did a dodgy job on them, but not now! Now her bobbins are a work of wound art!

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Never did I think I would have even one vintage sewing machine – never mind three! and two of them treadles! What a delight they are to sew on!

But, before I continue to ‘wax elephants’ and get all poetic,  I’d best sign off, and just let you gaze and gaze and gaze again at their beauty…. You have my permission to drool as much as you like, but please – not on my lovely girls!

 

New things….

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Just recently, I finished my first ever knitted cowl. It was a very rewarding experience. Not only was it an easy pattern, it was a magical thing of elegance, beauty and sparkle. It was a Dragon Wing Cowl. I got the pattern  from Ravelry. It was designed by Jessie Rayot. I’ll provide the link here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/dragon-wing-cowl

See the pretty sparkles? I used Cascade Hollywood yarn in the colour called Chive. It has built in bling, and it glistens just like I’ve always imagined dragon wings would in real life! It was made for my middle daughter for her birthday, and she loved it, I’m pleased to say. There will be several more of these in my future, I’m sure!

Another new thing was fusible applique… Now, owing to the fact that a lack of foresight had me having three children whose birthdays are all very close together (two of the three being only three days apart) and having a husband off work with an injured leg, I was on a very restricted time-frame to complete the lap quilt I recklessly decided to make for my youngest. I had three days, once the dust settled, and those three days were spent almost exclusively at my sewing machine! Thank goodness I’d already done most of the preparation! I managed to finish it three hours before midnight.

The pattern I chose (because my daughter liked it) was called Daisy Vines by Nancy Mahoney. You can get the pattern from Martingale as part of an ebook called Fast, Fusible Flower Quilts. (link:http://www.shopmartingale.com/fast-fusible-flower-quilts.html)

I added a dragonfly near the bottom for a touch of whimsy. My youngest daughter loves it. I couldn’t wait for the next morning, so as soon as it was out of the dryer I gave it to her! Less than two minutes later….

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Yep, worth every fevered, gruelling second! That’s why I do what I do!

Scrappy Mountain Quilt – my latest WIP.

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As insomnia tightens it’s grip upon me for the night I decided that it would be a good time to let you all see what I am presently working on….. or what I had been, until the Meniere’s Monster reared it’s ugly head with a vengeance!

It’s been about 2 weeks now I think, since I was last able to work on my quilt (yes, finally this one is for me!) and I feel the familiar frustration welling up inside me as the desire to keep going whilst the mojo is still happening, despite the overwhelming urge to fall flat on my face in any given direction, and vomiting my heart out grows ever more insistent.

Isn’t it lovely? I’m making it entirely on Helga, my 1940 Singer 15K-88 treadle. I love the process of these  Scrappy Mountain Blocks – pair up, slice, sew, square up, slice some more, rearrange and sew up. I’m using a layer cake called  “Fresh Flowers” by Deb Strain paired with some white-on-white fabric. I’m really excited about this quilt! So far  I have about 4 rows done, with 3 more to go. I hope to be able to do some more tomorrow.  Even one pair of squares will be an accomplishment.

I’m determined to get this finished soon, so that I can begin the borders, the accompanying Scripture embroidery and the preparation for FMQ.

Watch this space for developments! Hopefully there’ll be some soon.

Gift making! It’s quite a process.

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It still amazes me that there are people in the world who think it’s insulting to receive home made gifts, produce etc as a gift. That there are people out there who see no value in the thought, the planning, the angst, the jubilation – the process – that goes into such gifts. They don’t see the blood, sweat and tears behind the item. If I personally know any now, they hide it well.

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These last few years as I have begun to progress in my sewing, embroidery and now Knitting I have purposed to try to have gifts predominantly home made over mass produced commercialised products. Each person is a unique individual and so should their gifts be.

I want the recipient to know they are loved, appreciated and thought about. You see….. it’s so easy to just buy something, wrap it and give it! It can be impersonal. See the item, think briefly of the person, buy, wrap, give….. and then it’s all over.

When someone makes something for you, you can be certain they’ve thought about you a LOT. Each stitch, pleat, pin and tuck; each paint stroke, stir of the Jam, batter etc that person has been planning, preparing, stock-piling, working – for YOU! And what’s more, they’ve done it because you mean something to them.

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So, as I finish my Christmas sewing and Knitting, think of a few small other stocking stuffers I can make as well I now feel the familiar anxiety of the crafter – will they like it? Will they use it? Will they see the days, the hours of love in each and every millimetre?

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I hope everyone who reads this has a safe and Happy Christmas, whether that be with family, friends, strangers or on your own. However your Christmas is, may it be a Happy one!

A slight digression…..

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My blog was originally to chronicle my Quilting journey, and, on the whole, it still does. It’s just that, lately, some other crafts have crept in unawares, and some other sewing interests like Bag Making and surprisingly Knitting! Here is my new Quilted knitting bag I made. I just had to make it. After all, we all need the right tools, don’t we??

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I have (finally) finished the Fathers’ Day Beanie for my husband. Not one word did he say about it’s tardiness in appearing. It went straight on his head and stayed there until day’s end (which is a sure sign he is very happy with the result!)

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Does he care that my first 8 row pattern repeat was….umm…..less than perfect? No. I made it for him and that makes it special. For those of you out there wondering why people craft, or why they make things for a zillion dollars that they could buy mass produced for 2 – this is a classic example of why!

It’s the thrill of choosing the design, (this one pre-approved by hubby!) the colours, the yarn and the making of the item. It’s the anticipation of seeing the work finished – of holding it in your hands and having that tangible object, now no longer a picture on a page and the joy of giving it to it’s intended recipient. It’s seeing their delight and appreciation of all your work to make that item FOR THEM! Folks, that’s a buzz you can’t bottle! That’s the WHY!

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Knitting is also addictive and I’ve already started a second Beanie, this time for one of our Grandsons. I hope he likes his as much as his Grandad did his!

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Introducing Toriska’s new pattern The Flourish Clutch!

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I was chuffed to bits to be accepted as a tester (my first time ever!!!) for the Flourish Clutch. A nice easy pattern and a whole lot of fun to make. Yes, I was binge watching The A Team whilst constructing this bag. Blame my daughter WR Gingell for that. She got me hooked on them a month or so ago….

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I couldn’t wait for a frame to arrive, so I pilfered one from a purse I picked up at a Thrift Store for 50c some time ago.

So without further ado – here she is – my Pretty as a Peacock Flourish Pouch! Give a twirl for the blog readers sweetie!……..

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This clever pattern is gorgeous from ANY angle – even underneath!

The Flourish Clutch comes in 3 sizes – Small, Medium and Large. This little cutie is the Large size.

Here’s a shot or 2 of me carrying said Flourish Clutch so that you can get an indication of the size and versatility of the Large size:

100_0739 Me and my bag                                Glenys with Flourish Clutch crouching

 

The Flourish Clutch makes her debut Friday the 13th of November (US time) along with her sister The Curvaceous Clutch, which is an equally lovely pattern with a totally different look to this one.

You can purchase the pattern via Etsy http://www.toriskapdf.etsy.com/
Craftsy shop http://www.craftsy.com/user/7919545/pattern-store
The introductory price is $6 and goes up to $8 Monday.

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Wow! Hasn’t time flown. It’s been ages since I blogged. Life and health often get in the way like that, but I am determined to be a more frequent blogger, maybe fortnightly to see how I go.

Here is a collage of some of the stuff I’ve been sewing/quilting since my last post. Of course, these are only the Bionic Gear Bag Notions Totes that I have made in that time. I love these bags. I still have at least two more to make for my Applique and my Embroidery to go in. The last one was for my Mother in Law for her birthday this week, one was for a bag swap (the one with the sea-life charms and hexies on the front) and 2 were for me – one for English Paper Piecing and one for Felting.

BGB Collage

Bionic Gear Bags were the invention of Sally Thompson (aka RipStitcher) from Craftsy. You have only to google the name of the bag for the pattern to come up! It is fantastic and I love making them.

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I’ve also made a few Necessary Clutch Wallets (by Emmaline’s Patterns) and am equally enarmoured of this pattern. Such a clever and simple way to construct a complicated looking pattern, and this is exactly what both patterns share, a simplicity in construction that belies their complicated appearance. Kudos to Sally Thompson and Janelle Mc Kay for their brilliance!

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Where to now you ask? Now, I learn (hopefully) to knit. Not just knit, but knit right-handed! I am predominantly left-handed, and already do some things right-handed so I don’t see many issues with this. I have done a little practice knitting last year (some squares and this pathetic, but colourful, little bag)  but not a great deal.

 (I warned you it was pathetic!)

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Hubby needs a new beanie, so I said I’d try to make one for him now that he has approved a masculine (and thankfully simple) knitting pattern. Hopefully my next blog will be about said hat, and also the obligatory knitting bag that I will now have to make for my new craft of knitting……… yes, I know, it is terrible that I will have to make yet another craft bag, but these things happen.

Until next time! Keep crafting!

Another quilt done and dusted (and a bag or two, or three)…

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Well it’s been some time since I last posted. That has been mainly due to flare ups of a few of my medical issues all at once and consequently I am fighting post flare-up fatigue and residual dizziness. However, I’ve not been totally idle.

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I have joined the 2015 Bag of the Month club and have half finished January’s bag. I am just waiting on handles to arrive to finish it. You can find details of the 2015 Bag Of the Month Clubhere: http://sewsweetness.com/2014/12/bag-month-club-2015.html

I have also made a Bionic Gear Bag, a stupendously clever and practical concoction of Craftsy’s RipStitcher. Her versatile Bionic Gear Bag Notions Tote that can be used for just about anything can be found here: http://www.craftsy.com/pattern/sewing/accessory/winner-bionic-gear-bag-notions-tote/93596

BGB full with one dodad

Before that I made a Sew Together bag for a Christmas present and another quilt, this time for Hubby for Christmas. Hubby’s quilt was a labour of love (as all my quilts are really!) He chose the Scripture verse even though he didn’t know what for, and as he is uber-conservative I searched high and low for a fabric range he would consider “masculine enough.” I found some Moda “Piecemakers” by Kathy Schmitz. All ecru, blues and browns and not a flower in sight! He was delighted.The block I settled on was “Rail Fence.” I used 100% wool batting and Gutermann thread for the FMQ on the blocks and Aurifil thread for the border. Out of the two threads, I much preferred the Aurifil. My machine did too.

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Through this process I learned about Top Stitch needles – fantastic little things that they are! I needed a needle with a bigger eye for the Gutermann thread because it would keep snapping from my needle every inch or so – it was so frustrating and demoralising!! (By the way, I can totally recommend being in a facebook quilting group. I joined the “Quilt along with Pat Sloan” facebook group and the people there are fantastic and always willing to pitch in with good advice when you send out an SOS like I did in this situation.)

I’m behind on my Sew Sweet Simplicity BOM but will be able continue on with that at my own pace. Right now I’m gearing up for the onslaught of birthday sewing….. I really should have spaced my children’s birthdays a little wider apart – we have 3 within 5 1/2 weeks (and 2 of those 3 days apart!) Major planning fail there!……….. as if I could really do anything about that! LOL!

100_9595Here’s hoping everything is just dandy in your world today and that you can get some sewing, writing, painting, pottery, or whatever it is you like to do done.