Friday, October 09, 2009
A friend e-mailed me recently, a pithy one liner:
"Are you being held hostage by your sewing machine?" Nine words. Nothing more.
Actually I am. Which is why I haven't been here.
I've been in the sewing room, or in the garden, sloshing about with watering cans, for a few weeks now, with only brief visits to the bathroom, the kitchen and the bed.
The guild is having our second annual quilt show at the botanical gardens at the end of October. This year we're having a boutique of hand made items to raise money for various charities. Each member is asked to contribute a few items.
A few items.
I think I got carried away. I'm back to feeling as I did one summer, long ago, when I was sent off out the country, to my grandmother's, for a few weeks, probably to give my overworked, overstressed mother a break.
My grandmother's farm was one of my favourite places in the world to go. Usually we just went out to visit on the occasional Sunday afternoon, so to be there for a few weeks was heaven. I loved poking around in the farmyard; peering in at the big, fat, scruffy, snuffling pigs; letting the little calves suck on my hand; wishing the uncles would let me ride the old, blind-in-one-eye mare, even though I'd have been scared to death to be that far off the ground on something so large and unpredictable. I loved to climb up into a loft in one of the barns where lots of old photos were stored from when the old house burned down. I'd sit up there, in the half light, for hours, looking at all those serene, stern, sepia toned faces, some of them long dead, awe struck that they all had some connection to me! I loved to go exploring up the heathery hillside behind the house. I was as happy as the day was long, wandering around in those fields, climbing over the gates, picking the wild flowers, dodging the cows, and keeping an especially wary eye out for the bull. And higher up were the piney paths through the forestry lands. Utter peacefulness, with only the larks and the bees for company. To this day I think my children were cheated not to have grown up there....
I loved the big, warm, farm kitchen, from which all the action radiated, and where the water was always close to a boil, for tea. My grandmother made the most delicious cabbage which she boiled with a slab of bacon, ummm! And always the smell of soda bread baking. I loved the homely looking chairs with the woven seats, for which my uncle, to my amazement, was able to weave new seats when the old ones got worn and frayed.
I loved the uncles' big blue and white striped mugs. My Uncle Denis had a unique technique for cooling his tea. Adding more milk would dilute the tea taste too much, so he would tip his big blue and white stripey mug over, to let some of the tea spill into the saucer, where, the saucer being shallower, the tea would cool rapidly. Then he'd pour it back into the mug, making the tea just cool enough to sip without scalding his tongue. Catching my eye, he would wink at me and grin. We both knew it would be inadvisable for me to try his technique back home! His older sister would not be impressed.
I loved the Ovaltine my daft Auntie Bid would make for me before bed each night.Daft because she'd been jilted by the man she wanted to marry and never got over it. More than almost anything else, I loved to hear her stories of when they were young. The best one was how she and my mother would sneak out through the window, after they were supposed to be in bed, and go off to the village to go dancing. There were no flies on my grandmother though, and when they came home, sneaking back in, under cover of darkness, she'd be waiting for them with an ash plant!
I loved taking sandwiches and steaming cans of hot, sweet tea out to the fields to the uncles when they were saving the hay. If the sun was shining they couldn't waste precious time coming back to the house to eat, as you never knew, it being Ireland after all, when the rain clouds would come rolling in.
And when they did, I was given a bag of old fabric scraps, and some needles and thread with which to amuse myself. And this I loved most of all. They didn't know it at the time but they were creating a monster! I was absorbed, for hours at a stretch, making tiny little dolls, and fashioning tiny clothes for them. I have no idea what became of those little dolls, but one of my favourite things to do, to this day, is to take a bag of scraps and making something beautiful from them.
So, back to the job at hand! The first item I made was this shopping bag, from scraps I'd ceased to love;
Then I made this smaller bag from the same family of reject scraps;
Then this, smaller still, passport bag.
While digging in the closet for batting for one of the bags, my hand emerged, clutching some half-made pot holders from a few Christmases ago, which I had conveniently forgotten. I think, at the time, I made so many of them I thought I'd die from doing the same thing over and over. Easily bored I am! But it only took a little while to finish them off for the boutique.
A friend and I saw a pattern for a child's apron at a quilt shop recently. It was cute, but they wanted $9 for the pattern! It looked so simple. Who buys these patterns?? I stashed the idea away in my head. A few days later, in our local fabric shop for a spool of thread [ha! I rarely get out of there with only the thing I came in for!] I found a child's apron pattern among their free leaflets. Bob's your uncle, I was off to harvest childrens' fabrics from the stash rejects. Here are the results:
Visiting a friend the other day, she showed me a pattern for that little bird at the top there. We both agreed they'd be cute for the boutique. So we made one, then and there. I left her sewing on her wings, and came home and made one myself.
But I think he's going to stay and live with me! I may make one or two for the boutique, but certainly not a whole flock of them. I think I'm getting burned out. Besides, I have my little pumpkin stitchery to finish;
And then there's the October Bunny Hill Block of the Month calling to me from the design wall,
and every time I go on blogger I find more cute patterns on more quilting sites, and California girl has a birthday coming, and Ohio girl is asking me am I waiting 'til the snow flies to come and see my grandsons, and Britboy and Beloved and Precious Bundle are coming for Christmas......
Something's got to give.
Step away from the sewing machine.
Unplug the infernal thing.
Go do a load of laundry, make supper, look smart about it!
E-mail the friend---the situation has been defused; the rogue machine has been taken into custody;
I am unharmed, but boy, did I have fun!