Bigger


Every so often, you have a sudden realisation that your kids are growing up. This week has been one of those moments. It's never anything earth shattering, maybe just overhearing their conversation about their day while in the bath, or that they get through their morning chores without cajoling, or they can start to help out with quilt photos, rather that me needing to work creatively around them. But somewhere in there you look at them and think, "Listen to you! Look at you! You're bigger!"


I'm not the kind of person to mourn this change. I love grown up conversation, help with the washing, wee in the toilet. This is the stage I've been waiting for. The one where we know we are done having more, and we just sit back (in a figurative sense) and enjoy the ride. No more cesareans, no more morning sickness, no more stopping every 2 hours in car trips to pull over and breastfeed.
I have friends with teenagers and I know there's still some stuff ahead of me, but right now, I have a big boy that I can still beat in a wrestle, and a little girl who I can still beat trying to escape under the front gate, and one in between who doesn't like to wrestle or escape (yet). Right now it's nice.


This quilt was pulled from my Works in Progress box already sewn into quarter-square triangles. I cut those up diagonally and sewed them back together without too much thought or design. I think it's good to do that with WIPs sometimes. I thought a little about how to make it bigger, or add some white or grey for interest, and in the end, I had two spare blocks, and could have cut some more to make an extra row, but I just kept making that decision to keep it simple. I sewed the finished blocks together, spray basted, quilted and bound it in a long afternoon. I have other quilts I want to throw my creativity and thoughtfulness at. I could just let this one be a happy, scrappy gift for a friend.


I started this blog almost 5 years ago because things weren't all that nice. Because I wanted to take photos and tell stories that processed what was hard, but mostly recognised what was good. Today, taking photos of these sweet kids, and a quilt I didn't have to fight to finish, it felt good to stop and say, "Hey, look where we are! How good is this?" Life is chaotic and interrupted and full and it's easy to find things I want to change, to think, I can't wait till we're nappy-free or till Tim finishes his Masters, or the kids are old enough to leave for an evening. But right now, in this moment, I am surrounded by beauty. I have much to be thankful for.

Mountain Campfire Quilt


There is something so satisfying about finishing a quilt that's been a long time coming. Even more satisfying to snap and edit the photos, to stand back and admire your work, to see in the flesh, the realisation of the idea you had several months ago.



This is Mountain Campfire. Named because the prints, Wild and Free, designed by Maureen Cracknell, and the design remind me of first moving from the city to 100 acres off the Mid North Coast of NSW when I was 12. My parents bought a farm, complete with horses, caravans and an old beat up Land Drover that had been abandoned by a couple going through a divorce. They left everything. Old song sheets and guitars, garden sheds full of blankets and mattresses, tin cups and tinned food. There was no electricity or septic system. No running water. I thought my parents were the coolest people who ever lived. It was quite the adventure!


These beautiful, warm prints arrived just as I moved back to the country, albeit to a different part of Australia, and working with them has felt like home.
I cut most of the pieces using my Accuquilt cutter, and made the quilt queen size to get enough repeat of the design. And then, feeling terrified of quilting something so big and special to me, I sent it off to Jeannette Bruce of Gone Aussie Quilting who quilted the perfect, all-over, boxy design on it. I'm so glad I took this option! I'll definitely be using it again, especially for queen size quilts!


I intended from the beginning to take my time with this quilt. I wanted to enjoy it, and not feel pressure to get it done. And while I'm glad I took that route, I never expected it to take six months! When I thought of savouring this quilt, I thought of sewing it when I felt like it. But often it sat waiting patiently in it's box, while I got other quilts finished with more certain deadlines, even though I wanted to be working on it! It's made me realise it's not just enough to intend to be slow, but to clear out the space for it also.

Now, thankfully, the intended recipients of this quilt are travelling the world on their honeymoon. And I'm just a little glad it gets to stay in my home for a few extra months before I have to hand it over! In the end, it's probably the best way to enjoy my work!



Home in a Log Cabin






Tonight we had a fire. We took the kids down to the gully in their pyjamas and they climbed trees and old feeders while we talked about our plans for the year, reminisced about travelling days and swapped funny memories.
In two weeks, 10-15 students will join our little community. They'll study a diploma in Biblical Studies, they'll work on surrounding farms to cover their tuition and board, and they'll have time and space to think, ask questions, grow up.
In the meantime, we're working at establishing a good homeschool routine, getting used to living a whole lot more than 30 seconds from the local supermarket, and spending my spare minutes sewing. I think perhaps it was that count down, and all the thinking and planning, that gave me the extra push to cross another old quilt off my WIP list, and an easy one at that, with just the hand-quilting left to finish.


This quilt has been in progress for about 18 months! I made a whole heap of quarter log cabins, inspired by the book Sunday Morning Quilts. And then I laid them on my bed and become overwhelmed by all that movement and colour. I kept just 16 blocks for this quilt, added this wide sashing, and the rest, I made into a lap quilt.
I backed the quilt with a mix of Drawing Room prints, which are home decor weight, and makes the quilt slightly heavier, which I like. I gave it a light machine quilting about a year ago, bound it, and planned to hand-quilt it slowly while still using it on our bed. Well, slowly is the word for it. It takes a long time to hand-quilt a queen size quilt! But oh, I love the effect.


When I lived on my farm as a kid, we lived in 5 caravans, with the plan that my dad, a builder, would build our house on the hill, in parts as we could afford it. The house never eventuated, but Dad built a log cabin annex off the main caravan we used a kitchen, with trees from the property. It was in that log cabin, that we first learned about simplicity, resourcefulness, creativity, gratitude. My dad was a skilled craftsman, and I'll always think of that place as a home, rather than an in-between, make-shift arrangement. I enjoyed thinking back on those days, with renewed appreciation for my dad's work, while I stitched my own log cabins, now in my own farm house.

And as soon as I make the curtains and some matching cushions, I'll show you it's new home on our bed! For now though, you can enjoy it in our beautiful gully.
 

Just moments.



I spend a lot of time thinking about where I'm headed. Where I fit in the world. What my purpose is. I'm so drawn to the idea of having a creative identity. I make this, and when I do, people know it's me. But it seems that when I pin something down, when I say, "I'm going to make reversible clothes and sell them in town!" or "I'm going to make patterns!" or "I'm going to make drawstring quilts!" that I start to feel stuck. That settled feeling of finding a niche is an elusive one for me.



So it probably shouldn't have surprised me that after announcing absolutely and unequivocally a few weeks ago that I Am a Quilter, I started to feel at sea. Trapped. Like the very act of mapping out my path stole it's beauty, it's adventure. Like it was supposed to be a secret thing, left unspoken and mysterious.


I have a nearly four year old who's a lot like me. Suggest a plan for the afternoon and she runs the other way. But leave her to her own devices and she'll flit (mostly) happily from one thing to the next. If I'd offered to make this pinafore for her, she would have politely, but firmly declined. But today she had in mind that she wanted a purple dress. And because life doesn't always allow you to drop everything and make at a little girl's whim, but today seemed one of those days, I agreed. I gave her the option of the pinny or a wrap dress, and she chose the print.



As I started ironing, then pinning, then cutting this all too familiar pattern, I felt the kind of peace that comes when you get lost in something. I've made more than one hundred of these, but the last was over a year ago. Still, I didn't stop once to double check the next steps.
"I'm enjoying this!" I thought. And then, "Maybe I could make more to sell before Christmas!" And then along those all too familiar tracks, my thoughts meandered. Price. time. feelings. How am I feeling? Would I want to make another after this? Would I hate myself in a couple of weeks when I have 20 cut out pinnies staring me down?

"Mum? Mum. MUUUUMMMM!"


This is why it's good to sew with a nearly 4 year old every now and then. Because you can't think with a little girl's constant stream of questions and stories. And when you can't think, you realise that the good you were enjoying was not the making, but the moment. The opportunity to say yes to Evie. The knowing it was quick and familiar. The feel of her hand on mine so she could help me sew, but "not get needled". This wasn't about finding an identity, this was about being. A mother with a skill and passion that could be shared just like this, right now, because Tim was outside with Tully and the baby was asleep.


And so we sewed. And dressed up. Brushed her hair and photographed her dancing. It occurred to me, just quietly, that it was impossible to get her to model last time, that maybe we could do more now. But I stilled that voice quickly.
No plans. Not right now.
Just moments.

The WIP box.


Last year felt like a year of letting go. I lost a baby, I shut up my shop in town, I had even denied myself the blissful escape of fabric shopping for the year. When I fell pregnant again, it was a joyful, terrifying, intimate experience. But it also felt like a final breath. I was having my third child. This is where I would bid farewell to my time and inspiration. Good bye Jodi. I'll see you in 20 years.

Perhaps it sounds melodramatic, but I couldn't actually fathom ever feeling inspired again. It was like all my creative energy was going into making an alien life form. I stopped selling at markets, I sold all my stock on sale, I put the rest in this box. I had no idea if you were ever going to see me again.


There are lots of little deaths in motherhood. There is the death that comes with loss and dashed hopes, and the death that comes with hopes granted and the consequent lack of sleep. There's the death of one's agenda, personal space, confidence, drinking tea while still hot. I expected those again. What I didn't expect is a kind of resurrection. I didn't expect energy. Motivation. Enjoying my craft again. Maybe it's hormonal, maybe it's that sweet certainty (and fingers crossed - we've had surprises before) that this is the last. This is us now. We are in the next phase. The phase of moving on, and not always starting again, not always in limbo - will we, won't we... And maybe it is as many of my friends have said, that with the third, you feel like you finally have permission just to enjoy them. And enjoy them at home. Because that's where you all feel safe and ordered and creative. And any parts left of you from years gone that said you should be out, doing things that are REAL and IMPORTANT are more easily silenced.


And so, for the first time in over a year, my WIP box is not glaring down at me from the top shelf. It's down, on my sewing room floor, lid open. (actually, I think the lid has been stolen to be used as a shield) And I have ideas. Lots. Enough to make it feel like a little death when I recognise my limitations. But I am thankful for the death that's chosen and not the one that feels like a loss of identity, that is just too tired.


So this year, with a million, beautiful interruptions, my goal is to empty this box. Perhaps it's unrealistic, probably it will be put to one side when Finlay starts to teethe, to move, to eat lego. But right now, I'm enjoying having a goal that is not just to take each day at a time (though I want to do that too).

I'm sure there was something else I wanted to say but the baby has awoken. So I'll show off my first WIP box finish (and our beautiful coast) and chat more next time.

Jodi. xx