Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Series of Firsts and Scraps

My "living simply" quilt is now hanging up.

I started this quilt to practice a number of new techniques:

  • first 'crumb' scrappy blocks. I discovered how much fun these are, and what a great way to use up little bits of fabric which are too small for incorporation in other projects. Many sewers like to use little scraps to start a line of sewing -to make sure that the threads are not tangled at the back and so on. These crumbs can be used therefore as 'leaders/enders" of lines of blocks which are being sewn together which makes it possible to be creating lots of these without really noticing. My next crumbs will be grouped, I think, according to colour just to see how that goes.
  • first UnRuly letters -I want to use words on the border of a quilt top now in production, but wanted a bit of experience first.
  • first UnRuly house -and tree (which I designed myself) -quite happy with the result.
The quilt used my first ever attempt at joining two smaller pieces of batting. I usually buy queen sized pieces and as a result often have some bits left over. I joined two pieces with a zig zag seam and honestly, I don't think you can tell where it is.

The border was a piece of fabric I picked up in an op shop. I thought it was gloriously ugly, but in small amounts it looks great.

I am quite happy with my progress on Free Motion Quilting too, but there is still a long way to go before I am feeling competent about it.

Nevertheless I am pretty happy with this little quilt. Pretty simple, really.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Making the most of what you have got

Recently I heard one of these books being read on the ABC and I thought -gosh, what a quirky, funny idea! Eoin Colfer's fantasy world where fairies are crossed with a James Bond style boy genius criminal -crazy idea.

I mentioned it to my daughter who immediately turned up with a whole stack of them that she had read some time back! Great! Lots of easy escapist reading, which kept me going for a while.

Reading books is a lifetime pursuit for me, but there is always the problem of finding something else to read. I often have a number of books on the go, but don't intend to buy every book I read- apart from everything else, where would I store them all?

There is always the local library, and I often buy books second-hand so that I can enjoy them at a more reasonable cost. However, I also love re-reading books I already own. All the pleasure without the pain of purchase! Some are old favourites and if you were to count the number of times I have read them, the cost per read-through would be quite small.

I am working really hard at avoiding waste at our place. Today I used nearly a litre of beef stock that DH bought for something he made on the weekend -it said "use in three days after opening" -so I turned that into soup with some garden veggies and the left over bits of a garden salad which was also from the weekend, along with some bits and bobs I had stored in the freezer. You know how it is -not enough to make one person a meal, but I hate throwing food out so I put it in a tiny container in the freezer. There was half a serve of carrot and turmeric soup, and a bit of a beef soup I had made some time back.

So I reckon that was pretty much free food -and the best bit is that there is quite a lot left for lunches this week.
My quilting can be an expensive hobby. That is why I have been so happy learning how to make these scrappy blocks and UnRuly letters out of what I have left over from other projects. I completed this quilt top today -and I have to say I am very pleased with it. It was fun to make and cost nothing as previously I would have thrown out pieces like this.

So that is it for this week -learning to make the most of what we have got.

Hope you are the same.

Feel free to leave a comment if you stop by.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Why we have to change

My progress towards a simpler, greener, more eco-friendly lifestyle has many causes. One major cause is a result of reading books about the effects of human induced climate change due to excess consumption.

This report will explain why, as a resident of Western Australia, I take this particularly seriously. It is a report from the Climate Commission pointing out some worrying statistics about how the south west of Western Australia is being significantly impacted by reduced rainfall over the last 40 years along with rises in sea levels and increased ocean temperatures.

Fortunately our rains this winter have been close to normal, but one reasonable winter won't get us out of the difficulties we are facing. Our state government has built two desalination plants to insure our water supply, but desal plants are expensive and energy hungry.

My DH and I are gradually building up our home and lifestyle to reduce our water and energy consumption, and to increase the production of food in our garden. The bathroom renovation is part of our project to reduce our water consumption by putting water efficient appliances in, and renewing our infrastructure of pipes etc to remove the leaks and blockages etc. I have been getting quotes on some major plumbing and tiling which is the next step. Not much has happened, and it has been frustrating, but it must be done as a step towards our goal.

I have also been enjoying a learning new skills, which provide me with entertainment and opportunities for creativity. This week I have been enjoying making these scrap blocks as 'leaders/enders" in another quilt project. They make use of bits of fabric I would normally have thrown out, and are actually great fun. I wanted to practice some skills so that when I use them on the green/blue quilt I will have some idea of what I was doing!

More eco-friendly lifestyle does ask us to change, but there is a lot to enjoy as well.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Why it is worth bothering to do it yourself

Photo credit: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150340406430797&set=a.308323450796.193718.274330505796&type=1&theater

Years ago I thought there was nothing very important about the things we all need to have done to keep our houses clean and food on the table, and have clean clothes to wear, and so on.I had been through the "Women's Liberation" phase in the 1970s and I was pretty clear that

a. house work was a chore

b. everyone who lived in a house was responsible for it

c. I had better things to do

This quote is from Colin Bevan's book "No Impact Man":

When did taking care of ourselves become something so unimportant that it should be got out of the way rather than savored and enjoyed? When did cooking and nourishing my family become an untenable chore? What is more important that I’m supposed to do instead?

He continues on page 47:

Even modern replacements for priests, rabbis, and Zen masters — the positive psychologists — have something to say on this point. That new breed of shrinks has discovered that happy people spend a lot of time being grateful for what they have and savoring their experience. They don’t rush through “now” to get to later. They don’t make taking care of themselves or taking care of their families something they have to get over with so they can get to the good stuff. Instead, they insist that this moment, whatever it is, is the good stuff.

Over the years I have discovered that there is something eminently satisfying to me about making something from scratch in the kitchen, or growing my own vegetables and arranging the house to be attractive and comfortable.

I especially know I get a big sense of satisfaction from making things myself -whether it is knitting or sewing. Recently for example, I have made this tea cosy.

I also made this hand towel for the kitchen. It works really well, is a generous size and hey -I made it! It came from a book I found at Kmart, of all places, with really easy knitted projects in it.

Over at Consumption Rebellion I found a post which I think sums up how I feel now about why it is worth bothering to do it yourself -whether it is cooking, gardening or creating things for the house.I


For me, the reason why it is worth bothering to do it yourself is a combination of

  • unleashing my creativity
  • encouraging independence (I don't need other people to make things for me)
  • saving money (sometimes - the flood of cheap imports from factories where people are paid a pittance sometimes makes this harder to achieve
  • creating better quality things (this is especially true in cooking at home from scratch)
  • reducing unnecessary consumption -which is a major problem in this old world of ours.
Sure, not everything I make is perfect, but given the list of reasons above, I will continue to do as much as I can myself. This does not reduce my conviction that house work is the responsibility of all who live in it -but it simply says that there is something worth doing in all of this.