Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Falling in love again

It's true - the farmer and I have embraced Spring and fallen in love all over again.  I think it was sorting out exactly what was bugging me about the whole affair:

I ordered a new flowerpot, with fresher flowers, as the last one just didn't cut it..

block 37 flower pot
and I scattered the remains of the last one to the four winds

block 38 four winds
and re-cemented old friendships

block 39 friendship

block 40 friendship block
 It's wonderful to see the gang altogether

blocks 1-40 fwqa

Friday, 26 August 2011

Keep calm and carry on

I love boxes and tins and things that you can put things in - and it keeps me amused no end to look into all those boxes and tins looking for specific stuff...

Anyway, I was flicking through an English mag - can't remember which one, it was a crafty one - and I came across a picture of a little tin, marked 'first aid kit' with the 'KEEP CALM and CARRY ON' graphic on it.  This sentiment, with many, many variations (some quite rude, but funny) is all over the place, on tea towels, posters etc, but I'd never seen it on a tin before.

Being the staunch Anglophile that I am, I had to have me one of these tins - but John Lewis doesn't mail to Australia.  Lucky for me I have 3 gorgeous sisters in Britain, and Heather came to my rescue.  The tin arrived on wednesday (well, 5 tins arrived on wednesday - I'm spreading the joy!) and it's exactly what I was expecting - with a seriously fun bonus.......all the bandaids (plasters) are printed with the same sentiment - joy, oh joy!!

On the back of the tin, there's information about how this image came about.  The original phrase was part of the British Government's Ministry of Information propaganda agenda in 1939 when Britain was on the brink of war.  The idea was to reassure the population they would be defended at all costs - "keep calm, carry on with what you're doing, we'll be fine".  This theme was also continued in war time movies; "Mrs Miniver", starring Greer Garson springs to mind (and no, I'm not that old - it's just my mum loved Greer Garson!).

If you look at it another way, the phrase is also a bit of an oxymoron - 'keep calm' and 'carry on' - two diametrically opposed directions.......maybe this is why the poster wasn't ever offically used.  Whatever the reason, the back of the tin goes on to explain that the image was all but lost except a crumpled copy of the poster was found by chance amongst a pile of dusty old books in Northumberland many years later, and the rest, as they say, is history.

This tin will sit in my sewing room, urging me to keep going - and will attend to my wounds should I get attacked by pins, scissors or the rotary cutter.........(fade out to the strains of 'Land of hope and glory....)

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Farmers wife - Familiarity breeds contempt

Apart from slowing down the number of Farmers Wife blocks I make each week, I've noticed that the last few I made have not been quite right.  Usually this means a date with the seam unpicker and a little cursing, but lately I've let them slide......a little bit short on 6.5" square? - I'll fix it up in the sashing....seams not matching? - no one will notice amongst 111 blocks.....points a little blunted? - what's a blunt point or 2 amongst friends?

The latest block (no 37, Flower Pot) started with a great deal of promise.  Remembering the issues I had with the very similar Bouquet (no. 8 - I'm doing mine in numerical order) I carefully cut out the templates for the flower bit and rotary cut the rest.  I even remembered to cut the Pot on the diagonal so the effect wouldn't be lost on point.  All good so far - even when I realised there was a Y seam I just went with the flow.  I sewed and pressed and sewed and pressed and for the life of me, I can't work out how the block finished at 6.5" x 6.25".  I thought to myself, I can fix that up in the sashing (there's a couple of others that have finished the same size) and went outside, in the glorious sunshine, to take a photo. 

I uploaded it onto the computer and went to edit it for the close-up view - and that's when I noticed the Pot part will have a severe ding when it's joined to it's neighbours.  As I said above, what's a blunt point or 2 between friends - but I'm making a bit of a stand I think - I'm going to remake the block and it WILL finish 6.5" x 6.5" and the points WILL be perfect - then I'll feel so much better about continuing with the Wife.

To keep the relationship strong, you just have to keep working at it - compromising when required and making a stand when it's important.  Hm, in my head I can hear a robust version of 'Land of Hope and Glory' - I'd best just jump off my soapbox now.....

Block 37, Flower Pot - the dodgy one

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

WIP Wednesday #2

A little action on a couple of things this week:

Cam's I Spy, blogged here

Quilts in progress:
One more hexagon, bringing total to 9

Received another couple of blocks for the do. Good Stitches quilt

Block no.37, Flower Pot, for Farmers Wife Quilt - but while I could manage a 6.5" x 6.25" finish, when I took a photo I noticed that the 'pot' will be cut off horribly when I sew on the sashing - so that's back on the 'to be made' list

No action, 9

Looming deadlines for new items not yet started (eeeek!):
Baby quilt for 10th September
Slippers for my ma-in-law for 18th September

Pop over to the Freshly Pieced to see what everyone else is up to:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, 22 August 2011

New life

Spring is definately on the way - the seeds I planted about 2 weeks ago now look like this:

Lots of greenery has pushed its way through - leeks, cucumber, beans, sugar snaps, lettuce and one tomato plant - and we've had a beautiful couple of days of warm weather with the promise of a few more days - so that's sparked off activity in the rest of the garden.

First up, my youngest son (an apprentice builder) has started replacing the back verandah - it's actually the entrance we always use (and those who don't know us, go to the front door - so out front door is the tradesmans entrance!) and termites got into it a few years ago.  The termites have long gone but their damage has been exacerbated by the wet weather so it's got a little saggy (bit like me really!)  Three posts have been sorted out today, and a new fascia board fitted.  There's still the rest of the posts to be fixed and a couple of extended deck areas to be added, but he'll do that over the next couple of weeks.  He tells me that he'll also make me a couple of chairs and a table to put on the new bit of decking, se we can sit and have a cuppa out there - that'd be just great - and I've already started thinking about cushions and plants.  This area gets all the morning sun and is nice a shaded later in the day - and in Oz in summer, that's a good thing.  I have a huge rose bush over this entrance - in spring, the perfume and flowers are spectacular - and it has survived being hacked back out of season, being blown over by wind storms and attacked by aphids.  It's really lovely and a few years ago I propagated another few bushes and planted those in the front garden.  I'm seriously thinking of digging this rose bush out though - it will allow a lot more light into the verandah area as well as provide a much safer entrance way (it has the propensity to snag unwary visitors)  I can then plant more herbs and maybe some lettuces, so we don't have to go to the vegie patch if we only need a couple of leaves for a salad - I'd best talk it over with my dear husband before I get the rip saw out.  Having that bush out will make the whole area a lot more usable and people friendly.

While Benjo has been sawing and nailing, I've been digging up spring bulbs (which have already sent up their leaves) because they were in the spot one of the new decks it going - I've pulled up about 300 bulbs and some gorgeous deep purple irises my sister-in-law gave me.  I've replanted these in the front garden and the bulbs are still in a tub waiting for a new home - best get them in quick smart if I want to see any flowers this year.  I've also pulled up several agapanthus, ivy, another rose bush, a potato vine and lots and lots of weeds.  The chooks are in 7th heaven around the newly bare(ish) dirt and I am absolutely knackered!! I guess that's what happens when you don't do a great deal of anything physical for 12 months.  It's a good knackered though - I did despair about ever getting interested in the garden again - it took all my energy to keep the vegie patch ticking over last year - but I feel like I'm back to my old self again - albeit it with a far greater apprecition for life and what's really important.

So, in a few weeks, this should look entirely different......

Potato vine on the left is now gone (it was growing all over a rose bush, which is also gone) and the large rose bush on the right is what may be removed

The entrance way - the ramp was all rotted and saggy and the posts and fascia damaged by termites.  Buster thought I was taking a photo of him!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Hangin' with my peeps

Is the abovementioned title just a little bit bit sad being written by a mature woman??  My son is rolling his eyes, but I don't think I care - I find it very amusing and it aptly describes how we spent yesterday.....

My SIL came over to use the Gammill - she's made a really pretty quilt top for her mum for her birthday (my ma-in-law, and I still haven't made her gift yet...) and wanted to get it quilted.....

Robyn just sewing in a couple of threads after quilting
Then my bff finished piecing the back of her sampler and we loaded that one too

Lizzy having a bit of a meander
Unfortunately she had the same issues as I usually do with 'stitch in the ditch' so there was a bit of unquilting in front of the telly later, whilst watching 'Limitless' (not a bad movie), followed by what must be the worst movie ever made (and I've watched some stinkers) - I won't say what it was called because you just never know - but O.M.G. - it was filled with oddly timed close-ups (reminiscent of those awful daytime soaps), an amateurish and predictable script and terrible staging.  The DVD cover was so promising too - and we watched it to the bitter end, hoping against hope that it would get better - it didn't!  Ah well, it created a lot of amusing commentary...........

I made pea and prawn risotto for dinner followed by chocolate or butterscotch self saucing pud with cream or ice-cream (or both - Weiss vanilla bean or Ben & Jerry's chocolate cookie dough - mmm) contributed by Sparky.....an excellent saturday all round really.

Friday, 19 August 2011

One down - yahoooooooo!

One of the things about making lists - other than giving you heart failure when you realise how much needs to be done - is that when you finish something - YOU CAN CROSS IT OFF!!!!

.............and so I can - Cam's I Spy that was sitting on the long-arm just yesterday, is complete - it's bound and labelled and rolled up ready to give to my gorgeous, little great nephew.  Given that Cam chose quite a few of the fabrics himself, I'm guessing he's going to love it - in fact, when he was here last monday, he wasn't feeling very well and he asked for his quilt to snuggle under - unfortunately it wasn't ready and I made a promise to him to finish it this week - and promises are big in our house - so, here it is, flung on one of the benches on the verandah - and we actually had sunshine today, so even better.

the front

When it was being constructed, I was just a little concerned it was going to be completely OTT - but the blue sashing has calmed it down and the red and bunting borders ensures it'll match somewhat to the colour scheme in his bedroom (so his mum will be happy). There are 2 blocks of each fabric (except for a couple I didn't have enough of, so I 'matched' the theme, ie cats) and they've been sewn in every which way - that way it won't be too easy when he tries to match them.  The backing is a piece of fabric from Ikea (which was about $3 a metre - why didn't I buy more??), plus a cartoon farm animals piece I've had in my stash forever.  Quilting was simple, straightish lines with a variable thread, and I'm very, very pleased with it - will do this type of quilting again - it's sooooooooo fast and sooooooo effective.  From concept to finish, this quilt took around 3 months - but actually sewing was about 2 days.

So here you go Cam - enjoy - love in every stitch.

the back
a close up of the little cartoon farm animals in the panel on the back

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Aimless, but now with a plan

I find that unless I have a specific goal in mind, and I get onto to it almost straight away, then I usually achieve it, plus more....but if I have something I want to do and can't start it (for whatever reason), then I become sort of, like this.....

However, once in a while I take stock - and spurred on by the WIP wednesday hosted by Lee at Freshley Pieced, I've decided to join the ranks - and first things first, what am I looking at??

In progress:
  1. Double Wedding Ring - hand pieced and quilted - now needs binding
  2. Double Diamond - not sure what to do with this - it's only about 45" square and has been on the go since at least 2008
  3. Blanket Box Hexagons - hand piecing, and just started (not related to Lynne's of Lily's Quilts Hexalong, but I can see we were both inspired by the same quilt - Broderie's Candied Hexagons)
  4. Which Way To Go - batik medallion - all pieced, needs to be quilted
  5. Dancing With The Stars - this was a bom through stitchin' heaven in Texas, USA, all pieced, needs to be quilted
  6. Kimono Mini - needs binding
  7. Cam's Ispy - needs to be quilted, but I do have this loaded and ready to go on the Gammill
  8. Farmers Wife - stalled again - have 36 blocks made
  9. Sashiko qayg - have about 12 blocks made but need at least 24 for a halfway decent size
  10. do.good.stitches cherish circle quilt - currently have 6 blocks and waiting on remaining 14, then it'll need putting together and quilted by 10th september
  11. red and white challenge blocks - I have 4 blocks but need a lot more
  12. hand dyed convergence piece - not sure what to do with this - i just started playing with my hand-dyed fabric one evening
  13. Whirleygig II - this was put together after finding I had quite a few patches leftover from the whirleygig quilt I completed last year - it's not all that big so probably needs a border or 2, before quilting and binding

To be made (cos I have the fabric and notions):
  1. pouches - need to make many, all different sizes, for sale
  2. soft baskets - same as pouches
  3. other stuff for sale - yet to determine exactly what that means
  4. baby quilt - for neice who is expecting a baby - want to do Drunkards Path but haven't got the templates yet - and it'll need to be completed by 10th September (arrrrrrgh)
  5. quilt artistry quilt - from the genius of Yoshiko Jinzenji
  6. new york beauty - using thai silk
  7. layer cake quilt - I have 2 layer cakes, just sitting there, looking at me
  8. shirt - I bought chambray last year for a long, casual shirt...
  9. skirt, using fabulous pieces I bought from Kelani's at the Melbourne show
  10. pants - although might have to hold off on these - the fabric I bought is a tartan and completely unsuitable for our upcoming summer
  11. slippers for my ma-in-law's birthday by 18th September
Here's a mosaic of some of my Works in progress

1. sashiko qayg, 2. cam's I spy in full, 3. Dancing with the stars, 4. Playing, 5. Which way to go, 6. red and white challenge, 7. do.good.stitches cherish quilt, 8. double wedding ring, 9. blanket box hexies, 10. whirleygig II, 11. double diamonds, 12. cam's I spy
 So - unless something really urgent comes up, I'm going to complete the items on this list first - especially those with deadlines!

and I'll save what I've completed this year for another post

WIP - 13
Stuff to be made - 4,356,692

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Just stuff

It feels like I haven't done a great deal of sewing since my last post - but thinking back there's no wonder.

On saturday I spent most of the day with 4 very talented women - they completed a textiles uni course together about 12 years ago and get together about once a month - I felt quite priveleged to be invited - we had a lot of fun with many, many different dyes and the cram-jar method (stuffing fabric into a jar, adding a dye and some soda ash solution, then stuffing more fabric in the jar, then another colour, until the jar is full).  Some of the results were a bit ordinary so we just overdyed them.  Apart from discussing the dyes, all of the ladies are very talented and I learnt a lot about their work - from fabric manipulation to doll making and quilt making, both traditional and modern.  I was very happy to be invited to their next session next month, especially as it's going to be a show and tell and I will be able to see more of their work.

We had a wonderful day at the farm for Stella's birthday - the sun shone (very surprisingly for Melbourne just lately!) - lots of animals to see and pet.  My favourite bit was when Campbell (Stella's big brother) encountered a rather feisty kid - it reared up on it's back legs and Campbell's face was an absolute picture - he was very brave though and petted quite a few animals - he said his favourite bit was when the goat and the calf tried to eat my dress - I can't say I was all that impressed with animal goz on me, but all in all, a fabulous day.

Monday was spent babysitting - and I was exhausted by monday night!  Today was all about cleaning, mopping and ironing - bleugh.  I did however also properly research information about a Diploma in Textiles and it looks like what I'm after - 3 years part time - unfortunately the open day for that school is the same day we're out for a celebratory 50th birthday lunch, so I'll have to get appropriate info later.

This evening I have been able to start piecing the backing for Campbell's I spy quilt (I promised him I would have the quilt finished this week so I'll have to get cracking) and I also made a prototype pouch which will become stock for the markets (or Etsy - haven't decided my distribution as yet).

So no photos - just stuff

Friday, 12 August 2011

Red & White Challenge

At the beginning of June, whilst wasting time researching, I came across a Red & White challenge issued by Elizabeth. The idea was that Elizabeth would send red and white fabric to the respondants and she would later make a block for them as a thank you.  As one may have gathered, I'm a bit partial to red, so I picked up the gauntlet and made a Shoo Fly block for both Elizabeth and her friend Leisa.  These were duly sent to the US, along with a couple of pyramid purses* made with Aborigine fabrics:

.....and look what arrived in the post this week:

The block on the left was made by Leisa and the one on the right, by Elizabeth - these will go very nicely with the additional 2 blocks I managed to make.  In fact I liked the idea so much, I ordered more fabric from the Temecula Quilt Shop in the US (there was another reason I had to order more fabric and it involved my great-neice and a muddy dog, but that's another story) so I can a make a usable sized quilt.  Thanks Elizabeth and Leisa - they really are gorgeous.

Speaking of that great-neice - she turned 2 yesterday -she is such a wonderful little girl - she can talk the hind leg off a donkey, she's fearless, loving and full of beans.  I had already made a sampler quilt for her, which was to be her birthday present - but when I was at the Melbourne Quilt show, I bought a gorgeous little frock pattern from Nicole Mallalieu (the Tulip dress) and I've made one up for Stella

It's a little too cool in Melbourne to be wearing this just now, but a little long sleeved T underneath, and thick tights should keep her warm while we wait for summer.  I will attempt to get a photo of Stella wearing the frock at some stage.

The pattern was very easy to follow (it's got pleats, a cute little vent at the back of the skirt and buttons).  I chose to make the sleeveless version and I included the optional flat bias trim around the waist.  I also got a bit artsy with the buttons - I used some largish flower shaped shell buttons and sewed a tiny button on top, at the same time - you can't really see them in the above photo (and I used 3 different coloured centres) but suffice to say, they look really cute.

We're off to an animal farm on sunday to celebrate her birthday - hope it doesn't rain!!

Happy birthday Stella.

*the purses were designed by the very talented Nicole Mallalieu, designer of the Tulip dress - it appears the free pyramid purse tutorial is temporarily unavailable - so keep checking back - it's easy and very, very handy

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Show and tell

I've been teaching some very crafty ladies the rudiments of patchwork and created a sampler quilt so we could work on foundation piecing, applique, HST's, cutting, pressing etc etc. 

One of these crafty ladies also happens to be my bff - and she has completed her quilt top.  It's absolutely stunning and the following photo simply does not do justice to the rich depth of colour that glows from this quilt...

Apologies for the rotten photo - it's nightime and I used the flash (and I probably should have edited out her toes!!)

My bff is currently piecing the back and is doing a little improv. stitchery with the scraps - she's also created the initials of the recipient (it almost looks like MWAH!!! - sealed with a kiss indeed)

Lucky Sparky.

It is amazing how different it looks from my sampler, seen here and also to our other classmates' (I'll post a photo of their quilts once they've finished piecing them.)  It's also amazing that this time last year my bff wasn't all that into quilts - really didn't like them at all - and I lurrrrrve that she's now as obsessed as I am with fabrics and blocks and all that other fabulously creative stuff - my evil plan has worked (heh, heh *smirk*, *smirk*)  - love you Miss Lizzie.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Down the (flower) garden path

I was led a little down the (flower) garden path this week with FWQA - and it finished 6.5" long and 6.25" wide - so I figured I'd simply revamp the landscape and construct another couple of paths to even it out a little.  The masonry is a little wonky in spots and birds have all but invaded one garden bed.  However, if I squint a bit, it has quite a peaceful, Zen quality so I'm leaving well enough alone and moving on to the next block.  You know, amongst 111 blocks I doubt that anyone is going to notice a couple of wayward paths (wayward paths have been deleted from this photo to protect the innocent).

Block 36: Flower garden path

Monday, 8 August 2011

Some days you can feel it in the air.......

SPRING - it's on its' way - so it's time to get these out of hibernation in the fridge where they spent the last 6 months or so....

Time to do a little of this......

and voila! - the first seeds are planted and in the greenhouse.......more to plant in a couple of weeks for a continuous harvest....

Leeks, tomatoes (3 varieties), sugar snaps, beans, snow peas, leeks, watermelon, capsicum (2 varieties), lettuce (2 varieties), cucumber and zucchini.............mmmmmmmmmmmmm........home grown vegies....

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Afternoon bliss

What else to do on a saturday afternoon, other than to join forces with 3 wonderful women and help one create a quilt for a friend....

Nicole wants to surprise a friend with a quilt, so some time ago, we created a very simple pattern on EQ6.  Nicole then bought a gorgeous layer cake of the Bliss range by Bonnie and Camille for Moda, so we rejigged the measurements of the blocks to ensure a more economical use of the fabric. 

It took a couple of hours to decide on the prints to use in both the pieced and plain blocks and where they were to be used - and another couple of hours to decide on the layout!!  During this time we also decided it was too busy if we used all the prints everywhere, so we introduced a vanilla solid to rest the eyes.  Once we were all happy, (and having 2 of us with very random styles and 2 with a greater love for symmetry, no wonder it took so long!!) ) it was cut, sew, iron, cut, sew, iron and by the end of our session, we had completed all the pieced blocks - Nicole just had to go home and stitch them together.
sew, sew

We did a fabulous job ladies!!

the completed layout
 To top the day off, a couple of us joined another friend to help celebrate her birthday - happy birthday Sharon - we had a great night.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Second honeymoon continues

The Farmer and I are getting along famously - no less than 5 blocks made this week - and while none of them are as accurate as I'd like, I'm trying to be less picky (or as my niece says, less of a quilt nazi!).

So without further ado:

We wished upon a star....

Block 31 - Evening star
Thought about adding to the family...

Block 32 - Farmers daughter

He pondered how to keep the romance going...

Block 33 - Farmers puzzle
while he tended the sheep

Bloc 34 - Flock
he brought me flowers..

Block 35 - Flower basket

oh dear - this story gets sillier - obviously too much coffee......

a bientot