Thursday, January 27, 2011


Campbell Blair D-W.

He was born at about 1am on the 25th January at home - just as planned.  He was 8lb4oz, and while the labour wasn't super quick, it wasn't slow either.  Just very painful!  Definitely the last one from me.

So far he's doing everything perfectly.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Having another baby makes you think about your own upbringing in so many ways.  With this child being so late (11 days and counting......) it makes me think about my other two - one was induced 11 days late, and the other was on his due date.
Their personalities are very different, the one who was late is very stubborn and determined!!  Rushes headfirst into every situation, makes up stories, manipulates everyone around her.... She's hard work.  But I admire her spirit and her fight.  If we can keep ourselves from killing her, I think she will be a fine young woman who is very successful.
The one who was on time is my little man.  He's a squishy wee thing, and ever so clever.  He's quicker to give up than J, she can be tricked into doing jobs whereas if H isn't interested, he walks away.  He surprises us with his deep thinking, his understanding of how things work, and his patience.

I originally thought this one might be a boy, but now thats its late, I'm thinking its a girl!  And I'm petrified that its going to be another stubborn minx like #1.

So I grew up in a family of 4 kids - and we are all very different!!  This is our most recent photo together from April 2010 - its been a few years since we had one since we have at different times all lived in different countries! But we were all together at my younger brother's wedding.  My brothers are wearing the Robertson tartan - one is a family kilt from my late uncle Adam, and the other was custom made in Edinburgh.

When I think about personalities of my siblings I can summarise, but really we are all too complicated to make wide statements about.
My older brother is sensible.  He's intelligent, and he loves a good laugh.  And a good bottle of wine.  He's a family man and a career man, and I think his biggest challenge is to work the two together.  He feels responsibility heavily, but he is a good friend since he has had the same close group of mates since high school - despite them living around the world.  He misses NZ, which is good since he married a kiwi so I think they will be back to NZ eventually.
My older sister is very talented in a creative way.  She is extremely musical and a deep thinker - she probably over thinks most things truth be told.  She is very protective of her family and her way of life, and I admire her tireless pursuit of contentedness.  She's the sort of person who will be there for you if you ask her to.
My little brother was the unsettled one, but that's changed some over the last few years.  He likes his mates, his concerts and his travelling.  He is an excellent provider, and will work almost anywhere doing almost anything to make sure that the required funds are raised.  Like my older brother, he enjoys a good laugh, and a good drink, and a bloody good time.  When he is on form, he is a blast to be around.  He's married an Aussie girl, so I suspect he is there for good.
I'm the practical one.  I did the boring things (like savings, school, education, work, buying houses etc.....) when I was supposed to, and I guess I'm middle aged before my time.  Getting divorced and having illegitimate kids to a much older divorcee with tatts and a harley threw a bit of a spanner in the works in terms of my reputation, but when they all realised how incredibly sensible Shane is, I think my boring nature was just cemented in stone!

I do wonder what my kids will be like in 30 years time.  I'm pleased I'm having my third child because how nice to have siblings.
(I just wish this baby would come soon!!!!!!!!!)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January Log Cabin - 6. Layout

OK - so if you are like me, you too have sewn 18 of these blocks in January.  Crazy I know, but when I see a dead horse I like to flog it!

Here are some photos of my scrap 16 blocks.  I have to decide how to put these together now, and what sort of arrangement or effect I'm going for.  These 4 are not your only options - there are many ways you can put them together.
Let me know what you think I should go for.

Friday, January 14, 2011

RAOK that was not so random, and was more like a swap....

Two lovely ladies did something nice for me recently.  Hannah dyed up some lovely grey wool, and Julia knitted it into a gorgeous baby blanket.

 Lovely isn't it?  They are both very clever women.

I'm shocking at not returning kindness - its in my nature to repay in some way.  Whether its a box of choccies, or something I can make - I aim to do something in return.

Julia has been doing some sewing lately, so I thought I'd whip her up a little cute pincushion, and a WIP bag.  She likes brown - so this knit was dug out from the stash and matched with a cute japanese print.

Hannah apparently likes brown, but it doesn't really matter cause she was getting this anyway - LOL.
I was totally lazy - managed to change to a ball tipped needle for the knit, but didn't even bother to coordinate the thread, so its a dark navy.  Slack huh?

All four knocked up in a couple of hours, and hopefully they show my appreciation to two lovely ladies.  The link to make the mousies can be found here.

Our new life 3 months on.....

Hard to believe, but its been just over 3 months leave since Shane had a huge chunk cut out of his brain.  I don't think I posted images, so here we go.
This was the toomah from the side.  When they injected the contrast in, it really made the whole thing pretty obvious huh?

I think they cut a big chunk out, and then dissected around the light/dark boundary to ensure they only removed a very minimal amount of normal tissue.
This image still scares the crap out of me (unfortunately it doesn't have the ability to scare the baby out of me....) and I am shocked at how well he is doing.
The boy wonder (otherwise known as the neuro registrar) showed me this before I counter-signed the consent forms for surgery, as at the time Shane was only giggling, couldn't form a sentence, and couldn't really hold a pen.

Now - you would barely recognise him from that pre-surgery guy.  His hair has grown back, and the scar isn't that obvious.  So people look really weirdly at him when we are doing the shopping, and I get everything out of the trolley. I'm sure they think he is a horrible man making his 40w pregnant partner do all that bending and lifting, but it really hurts his head so I have to.

He looks pretty normal, but gets grumpy so quickly.  This is softened in that he also gets rid of his grumpiness just as quickly, so thats a bonus.

He is sleeping better at night, he pretty much goes from 10pm til 6-7am most nights, and doesn't need pain relief anymore through the night, although he is up first thing to dose up.  And he still has to nap for 3-4 hrs a day, in between taking it really easy.

His executive decision making is probably most affected.  He doesn't think through situations as well, and can't really make good decisions on the fly.  So unless we are well organised with a list, or a sequence of events, he flounders, gets frustrated, and then fatigued, and then grumpy.  So I have to step in and be the grown up which is a total PITA. 

Tiredness makes everything worse - it magnifies all the little things by 1000%, but thankfully he hasn't had any seizures (that I know about.......) since his episodes about 8w ago.  I'm hoping our impending arrival doesn't put too much pressure on his sleep.

So - really, in a diabolical situation, we have really come out OK.  I have someone I can live with until we are grumpy old people in a nursing home.  He is able to look after himself really well, and in time, when the fatigue subsides, I'm sure I'll be able to leave him at home again with the kids.  Hopefully in a year or so, but that will depend on when he is permitted to be behind the wheel.

Life has changed.  I'm a real live grown up.  The buck totally stops with me, and thats scary.  I never realised what it would be like to the only grownup in a relationship - and its exhausting.  He does help, and thank goodness for that, but I know the grey hairs I know have are well-earned.
#3 is due today, and I'm not getting any good niggles - I think its because I just really don't get a chance to relax, and the fight or flight reflex is strong in this one master.....
So everytime Baby thinks it might be time, Hamish wee's on his sister, or Jenna throws something in a tantrum, or the cat brings in a dead animal, and reality kicks back in and I know that I just can't afford the downtime - so baby doesn't make an appearance!

I don't know her, but Lori, from has just been through a terrible ordeal involving the loss of her husband, and it makes me realise how bloody lucky I am.  I got through what she has gone through, and came out relatively unscathed (in that life is functional, and I can get used to the new normal).  My heart breaks for her, and it still sends me into a panic about how close I came to being a "widow" with 3 young kids, or worse still a mother to three with a severely brain damaged other parent.
I am lucky.  And I do believe in miracles, but I don't think Shane's health is a miracle.  I believe the strength I have been able to find through all this was really God's gift to me, and its more amazing than anything else.  Because of all the prayers for our family, I have been able to hold it together and the little men in white jackets haven't had to come and get me, and put my kids into foster care.

So 3 months on.  Life continues with just as many emotional and spiritual challenges and this is the new normal.
Now we just have to find a way for my body to let go, relax and let this new bubby come into our insane family.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Roll on baby

So it worked.
I have no idea what it was that worked, but something did, and the sweet little baby has swung around again!

So roll on baby.  Spicy curry for dinner tonight, taking dog for a walk when it cools down, and pineapple for pudding.
Here we go.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Never a dull moment....

Medically speaking, this pregnancy has been non-eventful for me and baby.
Of course there has been loads going on all around me, but bubs has been pretty well behaved and my body has been quite reliable.

Well that went and changed over the last week.

I had my 39w midwife appointment today, and she commented that the bum was feeling very bony.  I went straight away for a scan (thankfully a new radiology clinic has just opened in town with ultrasound facilities!!!) and sure enough, its not a bum.
This pesky child has turned head up.

At the moment, baby is looking something like this (but no idea on genitalia of course....):

Which is not at all ideal.  Particularly when you have a planned home birth.  So I'm now heading in for an "urgent" hospital appointment on Monday.  Not sure what they think urgent means, but evidently at 39w you can wait 4 days for these things.

So from here the options are:
  1. Deliver said breech baby at hospital (apparently very possibly given its my #3 and its legs are up)
  2. Get baby to turn through myself between now and Monday's appointment and continue with the home birth.
  3. Go to Monday's appointment, baby still breech and have a ECV which looks unpleasant, but will allow me to have the home birth.
  4. C/section (least favourable option)
Shane's reaction is hilarious.  He's very serious and worried and actually wants me to have the c/s I think so its a known solution.  The risk here for me is minimal, and actually in the current position bubs is in, its risk is fairly low too - its just the inconvenience of having to make the hospital delivery happen with me as the only driver and him somewhat incapable of running the household in my absence.
But I think he is actually getting a taste of what he put me through over the last wee while! (And on that note I'm really enjoying my new diamond earrings too......)

Why did baby turn?  Well I have my own suspicions on that, and I actually think that while I have been sitting in a good position, I'm been sitting alot doing all this sewing.  I wonder if bubs got sick of being head down in a little cramped pelvis while I sewed at my machine.  Its the only thing that has changed over the last week, and I'm thinking its the most likely cause, so the sewing machine is switched off from here until delivery!  Lucky all my log cabin stuff was done for Jan :)

My Plan of attack.
  • Lots of time with bum in air.  We will do pillows, crawling around on all fours, handstands at the pool, lying on a plank.  You name it, I'm going to try it!
  • Acupuncture booked in for tomorrow, he may do some dry needling, but its mainly going to be moxi and heat treatment.
  • NO MORE NATURAL INDUCEMENT!!  We don't want this baby to come between now and Monday's appointment otherwise I am straight into hospital. 
  • Lots of talking to bubs, and I'm trying to visualise a head locked into a pelvis.
  • Reduced sitting time, with no more sewing.
  • ECV I think on Monday if all fails.  There is lots of fluid there, I'm nice and spongey with saggy uterine muscles, so I think it will work.
On the positive side of things, bubs is confirmed to have an expected delivery weight of between 7-8lb, and I'm measuring bang on my dates.

As I said - never a dull moment in this household!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

January Log Cabin - 6. Lets sew!!!!

OK, I'm assuming that you are ready to rock and roll!!
Get your strips out, here we go.

Step 1:  Take your hearth and your smallest piece - both measure 2.5".
Right sides together, pin the small piece on at each end, making sure the edges line up.
 Step 2:  Sew all the way along - remember no backstitching and a 1/4" seam allowance.    If you leave your threads longish here, your seam is less likely to unzip.
 Step 3: Remove pins, open seam and press open.  You should always press to the darkest side, but with this block I usually find it easier to press outwards.
 Step 4: Turn your block 90 deg clockwise (or anticlockwise, which ever way you like, just make sure you always to the same thing...)  Pin the next sized piece on, right sides facing, ensuring edges line up.
 Step 5:  Sew from one end to the other.  You will notice here that my seam goes a little wonky here.  Not ideal, but it doesn't seem to make too much difference in the middle of such a short piece, and its not at the ends, so I'm leaving it.
 Step 6:  Press open.  You can see the seam looks straight, so again - I wont unpick it.
 Step 7: Change stacks, and move to the other fabric/colour.  Turn the block 90 degrees again (in the same direction you have done already).  Right sides together, match edges, pin and sew.
 Step 8:  Press open.
 Here you can see what the back is looking like - lots of nice 1/4" seams and pressing.  I started off pressing to the dark side, but its just naturally easier to press outwards, so I went with it.
 Step 9: 2nd Dark piece, follow the system above.  Right sides together, match edges, pin, sew and press open.
 Step 10: Continue on with 2 pieces from each stack until you get to the end!  I always look at my block to double check what the next step is.  If you look below, you can see the creamy piece on the right hand side is bound on both sides.  That means its next to get a top up!

Its really important to keep an eye on your pieces and the length.  If you are working inaccurately (or your strips were cut poorly) your block will get more and more out of proportion.  Your next piece wont line up on the edges, and you'll introduce a skew.  You can't fix this by chopping off the uneven end.  You have to go back and fix your mistake to ensure your block stays square.

IF YOU MAKE A MISTAKE..............................

 So you have made a booboo - want to see one of mine?

In this case I pinned too far away from the edge.  At some point you need to use 3 pins with this block, and I was being lazy.  The fabric shifted as I got to the end, and the blue piece moved inwards.  Worst place for it to happen - specially when you start doing small triangles in your blocks!

So to fix this , I used my unpick and picked back as far as I needed to in order to realign the pieces.

I put the block back on to my sewing machine, and started back an inch or two from where I had unpicked to.

Sewing more carefully this time (with my tongue sticking out of course) I resewed the partial seam, overlapping the good sewing and merging into the new seam.  I am totally confident this will hold, it won't look odd ironing because I did a clean overlap, and it saved me a couple of minutes.

So if you have done everything right, you can measure your completed block, and it should measure 12.5" by 12.5".  If its a bit more, your seam allowance is too small, if its smaller than 12.5", your seam allowance is too large.

Voila!!  You have finished the first block of your sampler.  Now the tough decision....  Do you make more of these?  Or do you sit back and wait for next month.  It is such a quick easy block, and a brilliant stash buster, I reckon you might want to crack on with a few more this month.  And if you make any you don't want to use, lets put them all together and make a charity quilt - as long as they measure 12.5".......

Enjoy!  And please remember to leave a comment if you have any queries or you want to point me to your finished product.

A sneak peak ahead...

I'm so relieved!
This morning I found a really good free online source of templates that we should all be able to refer to - without infringing any copyrights, and saving me the trouble of teaching pattern drafting, or copying and mailing out templates!

Jinny Beyer Design Studio

(If this doesn't work - look at the free patterns and find the design studio)

Fabulous stuff!  Go and have a play. I've downloaded about 10 blocks in pdf. files -  fairly simple ones, although in Jinny's fabric, nothing really looks simple....  The nice thing about this, is she allows you to chose what size block you want the templates for.  I've selected all 12" blocks because thats what we will work with on this project.
But if you decide to go ahead or make life more challenging for yourself away from the herd, there is nothing stopping you from doing it.

The teacher can't stop coming out.... This is me allowing for extension of the more able students, or those that want to do more homework than I can be bothered setting!

I think our next block will be a simple 9 patch, but I am thinking of a sawtooth/ohio star, or churn dash for the following month.  Fun times!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

January Log Cabin - 5. Sewing Tricks

So hopefully by now you have figured out how you are going to manage the 1/4" seam allowance.  Its time to practise and get that right.
If you haven't managed to get a foot, you can try out some different techniques.  A few websites talk about putting a piece of masking tape on your plate and using that as a guide.   Here are some links to try it out:

How to sew
About sewing

Thats going to work OK for now, but it will need to be replaced on a regular basis, and lets face it - if this patchwork craze kicks off, you will probably want to buy a foot down the track.

Set up
Despite the atrocious state of my sewing space (read junk room), clothing, 39w pregnant belly and triple chin, I have decided to show you a picture of my sewing room.
Its very cramped.....

But in a way it works because I don't have to leave my chair to iron!  Given this block is ironed every single seam, it would kill me to keep getting up and down.  So - I sew, swivle around, and iron. 

Having a nice set up means that patchwork is more fun.  Even if you clear off your dining table 1 night a week when the kids are in bed, you need to set up a station  that works for you.  My overlocker and sewing machine sit side by side.  Behind my machines is my junk that doesn't have a home, and my thread drawers which also have notions like elastic and embroidery thread in them.  It works for me - its not ideal!!!  But it works ------  just.

Conventions with thread and patchwork:

Normally a good quality cotton or polyester thread.  I'm a bit of a snob and I only use molnlycke or guttermann or mettler threads.  I tend to use 100% polyester, unless I am really making an heirloom in which case I use cotton.
The colour used depends on the nature of the blocks.  You can't go wrong with a nice off white colour.  My thread of choice is col 111 or 1 in large rolls of Guttermann.  I think I get this from spotlight for about $10 or so for a 500m (??) spool, it lasts forever.  I use it on the bobbin and on the top thread.
If you have darker fabrics, go with a matching thread.  If you have a mix of dark and light, always go light.  When you are doing patchwork you press the seams right open, and anything other than off white thread looks terrible.

You never backstitch in patchwork.  You are only working with a 1/4" seam, and any backstitching stuffs up the tension at the start of the piecing, as well as adding bulk.  It also makes it harder to undo in a mistake, and you will damage the fabric.
Everytime you iron a seam open there is a chance that the piecing will start to unravel, so be gentle with your pieces, and sew them back together quick smart.
Your stitching will be overlapped the next time you do a seam, so there is never a need to backstitch.  Save that for dressmaking.

Always pin each end.  Even on little pieces like this you can get movement which will affect your accuracy.  I fought pinning for such a long time, but got sick of crappy results.  So now I pin.

Start right at the beginning of the pieces, and finish off the end of the pieces. 

Cut and iron.

1/4" Seam Allowance
 My allowance works with the edge of the foot just inside the fabric.  As shown.

  You need to experiment with your machine until you get it right.  The suggestion is that you cut 3 x 1.5" strips, sew them to each other and press open.  The middle piece should be exactly 1".

How far is too far out from 1/4"?
You need to work to exactly 1/4" seams.  Obviously we aren't perfect.  We will make mistakes.  When do you need to worry about it?

Well it depends on the size of the pieces you are using.  Large pieces - much more forgiving.  Anything smaller than an inch finished size, and the eye can easily pick up mistakes.

I am comfortable working within a margin of error of a small fingernail, as shown above with the slight overlap.   If you imaging clipping your nails back so there is no white, and then looking at them a few days later you can just start seeing the white - thats about my tolerance.  Say 1mm?

In patchwork, we press the seam to one side.  Generally speaking, press to the dark side so that the dark pieces don't show behind any light fabric.

In this block however, I prefer to iron everything from the centre out.  Use a hot iron, press firmly and open the seam out as far as you can (without pulling the stitches apart)

So I think thats about enough for today.  The sewing takes no time.  I have knocked out 8 log cabin blocks in about 2 hrs sewing over the last day, so I'm working at about 15mins per block.
Once you get all this sorted - the actual sewing is no time!

And remember - this is supposed to be fun!  I usually have a smile on my face when I get to shut the door to my sewing room and ignore the kids for an hour or two.

Next post:  Actually sewing!!!!!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

January Log Cabin - 4. Scrap Quilt

I know I said the next post was going to be about the actual sewing, but it seems that plenty of people are still going with their fabric selection and cutting, so this might be more help.

Crazy old me (blame the preggie hormones) decided to cut out a scrap quilt to sew this month too, just to show how the blocks can be arranged.
It was actually very cleansing in a way, I sorted through all the scraps I had, the stuff I didn't like etc.  I tried to keep mainly to florals - keeping away from medium tones and serious brights, and this was the pile I ended up with.
In here there are some lovely fabrics, expensive etc, but there are also some real cheapies!  Some of these are also 25y old - from when I first started patchwork when I was about 10.  I'll save that story for another month.....


Step 1 - iron everything.

Step 2 - cut into 1.5" strips, and put into piles of lights and darks.  That whole pile turned into this lovely little ensemble.

Step 3: Cut into the lengths.  I'm doing 16 blocks (4 x 4) so I need to do everything on the cutting list 16 times.  Arrange in pretty piles.

Step 4:  Arrange into piles so each block is already organised.  I then hold them together with a pin at the top.  With a scrap quilt you want as much randomness as possible, so you will try to ensure each block has no repeats of any one fabric, or at the very least the repeats are far apart from each other.

Step 5: Sit back and admire.  All that selecting, cutting and organising only took me about 4-5 hrs, and that will make a 48" quilt top which once you add borders to, will be a nice size quilt.  It would sit on top of a queen bed, perfect for naps!

I don't have to cut anything else for this whole quilt now.  Its completely precut!  It might take me 4-6 hrs to sew it, I haven't bought anything for it, and it cleaned up my stash at the same time!  What could be easier :)

You can see that overall there is a strong contrast between the left hand side and the right hand side.  If you squint your eyes, it gives you a very good idea of what the overall effect will be.

Once I have pieced these together, I will be able to show you the different effects you can make with 16 blocks, so if you decide you quite like the log cabin block, you might decide to make a whole quilt from it, rather than using it as one of your sampler blocks.  Its really up to you.

So tomorrow will be sewing shots, and I will help you out with chain piecing, 1/4" and ironing.  Really - once you are at this point, the hard work is done.
Happy New Year!!

Giveaway Results :)

Drawn by 3 very impartial people (DP, Miss 5.5 and Master 4), the winners are:

White Rose
Donna (HuntD)

Well done you guys, please send me your addresses via PM on TNN and I will get these straight out to you!  They are in envelopes ready to go now, so there wont be much waiting for them at all.