31 December 2009

Finished!

Well, I wish I could show you a photo of the quilt I finished yesterday, but it's for a challenge and is meant to be revealed at a gathering in August. How about that - finishing a quilt eight months before it is due? I know that's a first for me and I'm pleased to have it completed.

The challenge was to use the supplied eight fat eighths of pink hand-dyed fabrics to make a quilt of some sort. We could add a single printed fabric. I decided I wanted to practise my needle-turn skills, so I focused on appliqueing
circles. You can certainly notice the difference between my first attempts and the last ones. That's all I can say.

Another thing that's been occupying me time in the past week is watching episodes of Quilting Arts TV on DVD (I borrowed series 100 and 200 from a friend). I like watching people demonstrate their skills, and am enjoying seeing the presenters in action. Aren't we lucky that today's technology can allow this to happen?

30 December 2009

Secret pleasures

Well, I guess it won't be so secret now since I've told you! I'm currently re-watching one of my favourite TV series, Murder She Wrote. There's so much to love about this series and I always feel uplifted after each episode.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's a brief description. The main character is Jessica Fletcher, an English teacher turned mystery novelist, who solves mysteries and murders in each episode. Made in the USA, the series was filmed between 1984 to 1996. So what do I like about it?

Well, I love that Jessica is so snoopy (the polite term is curious). She's widow 'of a certain age' who lives in Cabot Cove, a fictional town on the coast in Maine. She has no dependents, so she's free to run her life as she sees fit. Her small town has a sense of great community and she lives in a house that I'd like. Oh, and she always solves the mysteries!

And, best of all, those 1980s fashions (except for Jessica, who is always beautifully dressed) are so laughable! Huge spectacle frames, protruding shoulder pads and seriously big hair. Did we really wear that sort of stuff in the '80s?

I enjoy characters who facilitate my fantasy lives, and Jessica is one of these. Who are the fictional lives that you enjoy?

28 December 2009

Much better

The rain's been falling all through the night and is still coming down lightly. Wonderful sustenance for the ground around me. I can practically see the grass turning green! I spent several hours yesterday entering data into my family history database. Lots more work to go, though, before I can see where the gaps are. Slowly and methodically, that's how I'm taking it.

To answer a couple of comments:
Tozz asked whether Family Tree Maker runs on Vista. According to the documentation that came with my 2010 version, yes it does. My computer has XP, so I can't vouch for it on Vista.

Glenice - I'm pleased you are enjoying the selvedge pincushion and encouraged that you are collecting selvedges now. Another convert!

Thanks for the sympathy Di and Jennifer. It helped!

Back to hand quilting while watching the cricket...

27 December 2009

Oh no

Over the past 25 years, I have spent a lot of time and energy researching my family history. I have discovered ancestors with fascinating names (such as Cinderella Spinks - there HAS to be a good story behind that, don't you think?) and traced one line directly back to a First Fleet convict.

I added all the information I had found to my computer, using an early version of the Family Tree Maker programme. This was before the internet was widely available and I marvelled at being able to print out family charts that showed the links between generations.

When my previous computer died last month, I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to upgrade my Family Tree Maker software. There have been many, many upgrades since I bought my first version. I received the 2010 version as a gift a couple of days ago and installed it last night.

Can you guess what I'm going to say next? Somehow, all my data had been lost. I was pretty sure it was included in my backups, but even though I hunted high and low, it is nowhere to be found. Oh no!

Luckily, I have a descendant chart of one line of my family I had printed a few years ago and I have a copy of the wonderful published book The story of John Nichols First Fleeter and five generations of his family, which includes a lot of information I contributed. So, I haven't lost the information for that line, I just have to key it all in again.

Sadly, that doesn't apply to my other line. I will need to resort to entering data from all the certificates I gathered over the years. So there's my task for 2010 - to get my records up to date, make sure the backups are safe and perhaps invest some more time in research.

26 December 2009

Oh happy day

The rain started here last night and it is still drizzling down, though I wouldn't mind if it came down heavier for another couple of days. All the earth is saying thank you.

I am alternating between two projects today, so here are some teasers. This is a small section of a challenge quilt I am hand quilting...


And here is a closeup of a small section of a machine-pieced project that's on the design wall. Two more orange blocks are needed, so I'll be rummaging through my stash later to see what I can find. Then I'll need to defer the top until I can go shopping for some purple fabric for the borders, since all our local patchwork shops are closed until January.

Days don't get much better than this. Rain, cool temperatures, sewing, the cricket on the TV and leftover prawn salad for lunch. Oh happy day.

24 December 2009

Turning points

Earlier this week, we experienced the longest day of the year. I wish I could say this means the worst of our summer heat is over, but that's so untrue it's laughable. The forecast is for three days of proper rain here, starting tomorrow, and that would be a dream come true for our parched land.

Another turning point is today. At last, the incessant pressure to spend money on useless rubbish has ceased for the season and the stress of playing artificial 'happy families' is easing. One more day and that will all be over until it all starts again (about October) next year.

I love the next year stretching out ahead of me. At this stage anything and everything is possible for 2010. Some activities are already written in my diary; some dates are committed. But the feeling is still that of endless possibilities and my feeling that dreams are achievable. How grateful I am.

23 December 2009

The textile blog

I've discovered a fascinating blog, The Textile Blog. To quote from John Hopper, the author of the blog:

"This blog concentrates on the history of textiles, but does include contemporary work. Among the subjects covered are printed, woven and knitted textiles, as well as carpet, rug, tapestry, quilting, embroidery, lace and basketry design. It also includes a culturally diverse approach to the history of textile design across the globe."

Today there is a post about the way Archibald Knox incorporated the Celtic knot pattern in his designs, and yesterday's post about Owen Jones and Persian ornament immediately interested me.

21 December 2009

On the machine

As much as I love hand piecing, I admit that there is nothing that beats the instant gratification of sewing on the machine. In a short time, I have cut, sewed and pressed these half-square triangles, ready for turning into bigger blocks. Such fun.

No-one, though, beats the dedication of my friend Di, who went above and beyond the call of duty to finish a quilt by deadline. A gold star to Di! Hop over here and you'll see what I mean.

20 December 2009

You could laugh

but I know you aren't that rude! Here is the first blueberry I have grown in my garden. There is a small crop of other berries on the plant, but this is the first to ripen so I couldn't help but pick it.

These type of small pleasures make life enjoyable and make me thankful that I can appreciate them. So while you are laughing at my tiny blueberry, I think I'll go and eat it!

19 December 2009

Loving this

Purchased at Prints Charming earlier this week -a fat quarter of the most wonderful mandala pattern. Too gorgeous to cut?

As I fondled it in the shop, I realised there was an added bonus - an extra-wide selvedge!

Cath and Kirsten just laughed when I pointed it out because they had seen my latest project featured on the cover of the current issue of Down Under Quilts - a quilt made with selvedges. (Full instructions to make my quilt, On the Edge, are in the magazine.)

Or, if you'd like to try a smaller selvedge project first, hop over to SEWN, where you will find a tutorial to make my postcard-size selvedge tulip quilt. While you're there, don't forget to enter SEWN's 10 days of Christmas giveaways - there are lots of goodies to be won!

16 December 2009

Socialising

Whew! All this socialising is exhausting. Monday was a lovely few hours sewing with Deborah, and yes! we actually did sew this time, in between lots of talking, eating zucchini muffins and admiring the recently-born Sadie. Such a cutie.

Yesterday was a treat, spending the day with English quilting friend, Helen. We shopped here, here and here, indulged in a Chinese lunch with Lisa and then spent the rest of the afternoon talking quilts in Lisa's studio. So involved were we, that we totally forgot to take any photos so you'll just have to believe that a great day was had by all.

My freshly-washed fabric purchases are now drying in the sunshine and the grocery shopping is done so I feel I can enjoy an afternoon's hand stitching. Bliss.

14 December 2009

Home

My five 2008 journal quilts have returned home, after a year touring the country as part of the AusNZ Art Quilters' exhibition. It is lovely to be reunited with these small quilts - I didn't realise how much I missed them!

As I patted the quilts and read the captions I wrote for the shows, I feel a tangible sense of achievement and it spurs me onto developing some more small pieces. In the meantime, it is wonderful to welcome these quilts home.

12 December 2009

Hot pincushions

There's such excitement here this evening since I arrived home to find that my selvedge pincushions have sold out of my SEWnSELL store! Thank you to all the purchasers. I will let you know when I restock.

This small, cheerful bird brooch accompanied me on my outings today and I think he enjoyed every moment. A gift from friend Sarah, he is such a happy little fellow that I can't help but smile when I look at him.

11 December 2009

Some days

are certainly more challenging than others. Today was one of the most challenging and that's putting a positive spin on it. Suffice to say that it was full of many conflict situations and culminated with a heavy ceiling-height wall panel and shelving unit falling off the wall without warning. In the public area of my workplace, extremely close to customers, many of whom were under the age of two (no injuries, thankfully).

I hope tomorrow is better...

09 December 2009

A treat

Before she went overseas, Brenda left this book in my custody, knowing I would enjoy it as much as she did. Even though I'm only half way through my first read, I am ready to pronounce it wonderful.

Quilting art: inspiration, ideas and innovative works from 20 contemporary quilters is written by Spike Gillespie. There is a story about each quilter, including several pages of great photographs of their quilts. Most of the names I know, but there are a few who are new to me, so it's exciting to investigate their stories.

A feature I like is that each quilter offers a short word of advice. One that particularly resonates with me is from Angela Moll: "I would encourage people to just basically look within themselves and do things their way. Who cares what is the wrong or right way? Do it your way."


Luckily, I have the pleasure of poring over this book for some time yet. I know I'll be revisiting parts of it again and again.

07 December 2009

Dots

I bought a piece of this purple and white fabric this morning because it reminded me of my Aunty Dot.

That isn't her real name, but we always called her Dot because she wore dresses made with spotted fabric. I've always loved clothes that had dots all over them ever since I was a kid; all due to Aunty Dot. The future for this piece of fabric is to be included in my next quilt, but maybe I should go back and buy some more to make a shirt?

Two of my selvedge pincushions were snapped up yesterday - thanks! There are still a few available, so if you want one, hop over here.

And, before I forget, there's a giveaway every day for the next 10 days over on SEWN. Great prizes you will love!

06 December 2009

Selvedge excitement

This month seems to be all about selvedges so far. Following on from my excitement at having my selvedge quilt, On the Edge, on the cover of the current issue of Down Under Quilts magazine (and full instructions to make it inside), I've decided to list some of my selvedge pincushions for sale.

You can buy my pincushions from my SEWnSELL store here. (Delivery is within Australia only.) Why not treat yourself to a new pincushion - you deserve it!

05 December 2009

Selvedges, selvedges

Issue 139 of Down Under Quilts magazine is out now - with my quilt on the cover! How exciting!

You all know how much I enjoy using selvedges to make fun things, and several of my friends have generously donated their unwanted selvedges to me over the past couple of years.

I made my quilt, On the Edge, with linen, assorted selvedges and a beautiful print for the borders. The full instructions are in the magazine.

There's also an eight-page article about how other quilters have used selvedges in their projects and how to make Linda Robertus's selvedge shopping sack. Everything a selvedge lover could possibly want!


The other fabulous reason to buy issue 139 is the spread about Australian fabric designers. We sure have fantastic, creative talent in this country and it makes me a very proud Aussie.

03 December 2009

Day out

Yesterday, Stephanie and I had the BEST day. My friend Stephanie lives on the other side of our enormous country. She was visiting Sydney for a week, so we decided to have a big day out.

After driving for an hour and a half to my place (yes, Sydney is a large city), Stephanie arrived and we were straight out into the garden. It's lovely talking plants with another mad gardener! Of course, Steph checked out how her Japanese Maple had settled into my garden. I think that big smile means I'm doing ok!


We'd decided to have an excursion to the Southern Highlands, south of Sydney. Why? To visit the quilt shops, of course!

I don't go to quilt shops very often, mainly because I have SO much fabric in my sewing room, so this was cause for great excitement. We visited Village Quilt Shop and Timeless Threads in Mittagong, Berrima Patchwork, and My Place in Bowral. Oh my, what a great time we had.

Thank you Stephanie, for the very best day!

And before you ask - yes, we did buy fabric!

01 December 2009

Pinkies

Pink seems to be the colour of the moment. The current Kambrachallenge is to use these eight fat eighths of Lisa's hand-dyed fabrics. Very pink, aren't they?

We are allowed to add only one fabric to the pinks and I have chosen this Camden Fair print from The Alexander Henry Fabric Collection.
All I'm able to say is that my quilt involves piecing and applique - oh, and there will be stitching. I think that covers most options, don't you?

29 November 2009

Waiting

for my Stephanotis flower buds to fully open. Definitely a sign of summer. How glorious are these blooms?

28 November 2009

Lisa's open studio

What a lovely way to spend a morning - talking with quilters at Lisa's open studio sale. This was the studio, all neat and tidy before it started at 10am:

Another view. Wonderful studio space for designing, sewing and having workshops!

Note all the yummy beads in containers on the bookcase! Lisa had a scoop nearby and while I was filling my plastic tub with my selection of beads, I felt as if I was in a lolly shop. The colours and shapes were divine.

Yes, I did give in and buy a few things. Three pieces of hand-dyed fabrics and a tub of beautiful beads, including leaf-shaped ones in two different greens. Hours of playing pleasure ahead for me.

If you couldn't make it today, Lisa is continuing her open studio tomorrow. Full details are here, and there are also some specials on her blog if you can't make it to the studio in person (though you really should pop over if you are in the area between 10am-4pm - feel the lure of those hand-dyed colours).

27 November 2009

Challenging

The piece of fabric I need to use in my 2010 challenge quilt arrived today, thanks to Brenda. Yikes - what a challenge!

The challenge is organised by The Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc and, thankfully, isn't due until August. I do have an idea already, but whether my quilt ends up like that may be another story.

To see the winning quilts from the 2009 challenge and to find out about next year's challenge, click here.

26 November 2009

Bid-4A-Cause auction

Here's a closeup of my Goddess Roseus A4-sized textile piece, made and donated to Bid-4A-Cause to raise funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

I used a layer of pink and gold silk fibres over hand-dyed fabric and hand stitched it all over with pink cotton thread to add texture. The universal female symbols are created with metallic foil in purple, the colour of spirituality. I used these shapes to represent the eternal challenges of women.

If you hop over to the Bid-4A-Cause blog, you'll see more of the textiles that have been made specifically for this purpose and will be able to explore links to the artists involved.

Bidding for the textiles starts on Friday 27 November, so please consider whether you can help raise much-needed funds to support this charity (and become the owner of a unique textile piece by an Australian artist). Your support is gratefully appreciated.

24 November 2009

Magazine junkies

I'm very pleased I'm not the only person addicted to magazines. I was Editor of Down Under Quilts magazine for four years, so I know how much planning, effort and time goes into producing jam-packed issues that are eagerly awaited. I also know how much juggling goes on and how stressful it can be!

All the more reason for us to appreciate the quilt magazines we have today and the efforts of the people who work for them. That's why I appreciated the comment that Angie Hodapp left on Sunday's post about my quest for Quilters Newsletter. Angie is the Editor-in-Chief of Quilters Newsletter and she suggested a contact in her office who could help me track down issues I missed. Thank you for getting in touch, Angie!

Through our online connections, it is easy to make contact with quilters all around the world. Yet is also simple to forget that real people are at the end of all those blogs and emails. So let's all celebrate the generosity of real quilters with whom we interact, especially those who create the magazines we love so much.

23 November 2009

Bid 4A Cause bidding starts on Friday

It's time! Get ready to support the Bid-4A-Cause fund raising activities for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. On Friday 27 November, the auction will begin, so please help spread the word to all your friends.

There are 14 unique A4-sized textile
artworks available. Wouldn't you like the opportunity to add an artwork to your textile collection by any one of these Australian textile artists?

Sue Dennis, Helen Godden, Lisa Walton, Wendy Bailye, Dijanne Cevaal, Jocelyne Leath, Caroline Sharkey, Sarah Louise Ricketts, Robyn Kennedy, Nic Bridges, Erica Spinks, Brenda Gael Smith, Dale Rollerson and Olga Walters.

All money raised will be sent to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. There are no administration or artist’s fees, so every cent you spend will go to this extremely important and worthwhile charity.

Click here to read more and to see photos of the textile pieces. Don't forget - bidding starts on Friday!

22 November 2009

Mad for magazines

Just can't help myself. I have always been addicted to magazines (is there any wonder I'm a librarian?) and will go to great lengths in pursuit of them.

I have been collecting and enjoying Quilters Newsletter magazine (the lack of an apostrophe in that title drives me crazy - that's the writer in me showing itself) for over 20 years. I started buying it at a local patchwork shop (which is no longer), dabbled with a subscription for a few years and, for the past seven or so years, from another patchwork shop. For all that time, I've pined when it hasn't been delivered when promised.

Now, before you all tell me how incredibly reliable overseas magazine subscriptions are, I have to say that has never been my experience. I have no problem with magazines within my own country, but every time I have a subscription to an overseas magazine, it has been totally useless. Late, irregular and often not arriving at all. So I've sworn to only buy magazines locally from now on.

Locally, of course, has a flexible definition. Last week, I travelled to several different shops in several different suburbs in pursuit of this issue of Quilters Newsletter. (That's because I didn't buy it when I first saw it in a newsagency because I was waiting for the patchwork shop to send me my copy. When I phoned to ask whether it was on its way, I was told they were still waiting on their subscriptions. Of course they were - I should have known.)

I was so happy to finally track it down and spent several hours happily reading. Until next issue...

20 November 2009

Open days

It's coming to the end of the working year in Sydney. Yes, I know it's only November, but things slow down now until they come to a complete stop by the start of the summer holidays. We don't really come back to life until February.

How do you know summer is approaching? Open Days. Here are three great places to visit in Sydney in the next couple of weeks.

The first is the wonderful shop of Kirsten and Cath, Prints Charming. I probably can't say it better than this:

In the same vicinity, Lisa of Dyed and Gone to Heaven is holding a wonderful sale at her studio on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th November.

You can read more about Lisa' sale here.

The following week, on Saturday 5 December, is the annual Material Obsession Swap Day. I defy you to read about it here and not want to rush straight over! Loads to see and do.

Don't you wish you were going to be here?

18 November 2009

Solitude and creativity

I've been reading about the quilt makers who each won a major prize at the IQA show in Houston this year. I was struck that it was important for many of them to work in solitude. I'd really encourage you to comment on this.

I'm referring to the short profiles of the winning quilters in International Quilt Festival Quilt Scene magazine. Caryl Bryer Fallert (Best of Show winner) said: "While I love the whole quilting subculture and all of the great friends it brings into my life, the actual making of a quilt is, for me, a solitary activity."

Fusako Takido (The Founders Award winner) said: "Quilting is a solitary activity for me, although I do attend Keiko Miyauchi's lectures."

Liz Jones (The World of Beauty Award winner) said: "Quilt making is not a social occupation for me as I find I have to concentrate fully when doing machine applique or quilting."

Denise Havlan (The Fairfield Award for Contemporary Artistry winner) said: "...my creative spirit is most alive when I am alone, with no distractions other than the sounds of the lake, fresh air, and sometimes music."

Hollis Chatelain (Superior Threads Master Award for Thread Artistry winner) said: "Quilt making itself is more private, but once the quilts are out there, it's a very social thing."

I relate strongly to these comments. Thinking, designing, drawing and more thinking - these are very private parts of my process. I can't bear distractions, like music or other noise. Once I start cutting and sewing, I can lose myself in the activity. After I have prepared pieces for sewing, I can become social, but until that happens, it's a private process. It's only after I feel that my idea or project is fairly developed in my mind that I can let it become public.

Writing is the same for me. The process can sometimes be easy and free-flowing. Other times, it can be laborious and every word is wrung out of my mind. For me, creating is an intensely personal and precious activity and it requires focus.

If you're still reading, thanks! I find the creative process endlessly fascinating. I'd love to know more about yours, so I invite you to leave a comment.

16 November 2009

Another one finished

In between fiddling with my computer last week, I finished this small Feathered Star quilt. It is 70cm square, hand pieced and hand quilted. I have been attracted to the pink/yellow colour combination for the past year and I can still appreciate its appeal, so maybe there's another quilt in those colours in me yet. I think this one deserves to be on display on one of my walls.

PS: Congratulations to Deborah, whose first grandchild, Sadie Deborah, was born last night. She promises to post photos soon!

14 November 2009

Tulip applique

My first small applique quilt is done! I learnt plenty while navigating the points and curves, so the next attempt should be better. If you look carefully, you can see small tulip shapes quilted on the background. I think I might quilt a few more to fill some spaces.

13 November 2009

Delivered today


Look what arrived in my letterbox today - a copy of International Quilt Festival Quilt Scene magazine. Wonderful full-page photos of the major Houston winning quilts as well as some history about the Houston show. There are projects, too, including the quilt on the cover made by friend Sarah. Yay!

My copy came from from Unique Stitching, so if you are in Australia and want to snaffle a copy, go here.

12 November 2009

Cut off

My computer died yesterday and I immediately felt totally cut off from the world. Quite a ridiculous reaction, really, but it just shows how much I depend on my computer and its technology to reach out to the world.

Luckily, I had the time to go to the shops and buy a replacement computer. That was the quick, easy part. Loading software applications, drivers and all my data is an ongoing and sometimes frustrating activity, which probably won't be finished for some time. All my data was backed up, so I shouldn't have lost anything, but... it's taking so much time!

10 November 2009

Zigzag love

I find it interesting that certain shapes and patterns appear in my quilts in batches. I've had a couple of zigzag projects in various stages for most of this year. This hand pieced project is starting to come together this week as I join the blocks with sashing. While the colours in the pic have a washed-out look, it's good enough to give you the general idea of how the quilt is developing.


You'll recognise these blocks as Grandma's Star. Lovely to piece, these ones are made with small pieces of various green/blue fabrics. I need to make a few more blocks to finish the centre section, then I can work out the borders.
I enjoy seeing how a quilt develops, because each design seems determined to go in its own direction. Although I had a specific idea for this right from the beginning, it still may not turn out the way I first envisaged. We'll see...

07 November 2009

Stitchin' Mission

Have you been following the progress of Di's Stitchin' Mission project through her blog? Her aim is to teach non-quilters the pleasure of making quilts. Starting with simple patterns, the women will donate their quilts to the KU Marcia Burgess Autism Specific Early Learning & Care Centre.

Di is a lovely friend I first met years ago through Scquilters and often catch-up with at our Sydney Scquilters get togethers. Today Di brought along a friend - Linda Hungerford from the USA, who started the Stitchin' Mission project in her town of Des Moines, Iowa. It was a true delight to meet and chat with Linda, who was bubbling with enthusiasm for all things quilty!

I so love the fact that blogging can connect people throughout the world. Even more, I love it when we meet face-to-face with people we know 'virtually' and immediately find a lot to talk about.

04 November 2009

Hunting pineapples

Sometimes, certain shapes become absorbed into my mind where they stay until conscious thoughts about them form. For several months now I have been fascinated by pineapples. Native to Brazil and Paraguay, pineapples were transported to Europe in the 1400s, where they became, like other tropical fruits, a novelty and a luxury. A pineapple is the fruit of a bromeliad plant and they are widely available here.

This is a beauty I bought today. It's becoming increasingly difficult here to buy a pineapple with the leaves still attached, because of plant breeders' rights. That means they don't want anyone to grow their breeds commercially.


However, I'm keen to try growing a pineapple to add to my backyard bromeliad collection. This gorgeous fruit smells so good and with patterns like this, how could you not want to use the shapes of the plant?


The pineapple is a recurring motif in the gifts to the English Royal family I saw during a tour of Windsor Castle. I was fascinated to see the motif, long recognised as a symbol of welcome and hospitality, appear on so many items on display at the castle. I've been unable to get the shapes of the fruit out of my mind since then and found myself seeking them out as we toured London.

Some ideas for using the motifs are developing. Look at the photo of the skin - isn't that a wonderful free-motion quilting shape?

03 November 2009

Spring?

Northern hemisphere seasonal categories of summer, autumn, winter and spring give quite misleading expectations here in Sydney. Today it was 38 degrees. Surely that's not a spring temperature? Tomorrow's temperature is expected to be 15 degrees lower. This article suggests that we really should abandon such foreign seasonal terms and look to the traditional Aboriginal descriptions instead. I think this is worth investigation.

On such a hot day, the only things I had to do were water the pot plants early in the day and stay inside to sew (and wait for a painter to inspect our home so he can provide a quote). The sashing strips on my Grandma's Star quilt are now attached to most of the blocks and they should be all joined within a few days. Photo to follow once they are assembled.

02 November 2009

Was it all a dream?


A few months ago, Deborah and I visited the Festival of Quilts in the UK. It was our first time there and we were both totally over-excited the whole time. So much to see and so much to do!
In the November issue of Down Under Quilts magazine, we share our impressions of the show with you. I know I'm looking forward to reliving the fun we had and reminding myself that it wasn't just a dream - we were actually there! Look out for this new issue - it's on its way.

01 November 2009

The morning after

The sampler doesn't look THAT bad. Blue variegated thread on cream homespun. Just need to practise...

31 October 2009

Free-motion quilting again

Whew. Just back from the second day of beginners' free-motion quilting classes with Kim Bradley. Remember that I took the first class last month when I showed you the samples I made? We were meant to practise our quilting between last class and today's one so that we could complete a sampler this time.

I'm not going to show any pics of that sampler because it's, well, umm, not very good. Life's too short to impose my not-very-good quilting on you all - just thank me for that. I will now resume practising...

PS My last post was number 700 and I let it past without mention, only because I didn't notice. 700. Pretty good, eh?

29 October 2009

Regrouping

The jury service is over and it was horrible. I was lucky it was so short and I hope I never have to do it again.

I was in need of more pleasant experiences so I ventured into my garden this morning - the first time in several days - and found a wonderful surprise.

Many months ago, I had sown some aquilegia seeds in amongst other plants in a large terracotta pot. The plants had grown and lovely leaves had developed, but I never saw any flowers coming until suddenly there they are!

Aren't they the most beautiful flowers?

I've been reminded that we constantly need to refresh ourselves and focus on the positive in life. My garden helps me do that because there is always something changing amongst the plants. Sewing and good friends also helps replenish the spirit, so thank you Sarah for a lovely day that helped me regroup.

26 October 2009

Sigh

Many of my brain cells died today while I was on a jury. I may or may not regain some functioning cells once it is over. Perhaps by the weekend...

25 October 2009

Look, it's applique

I got out of bed today so early and I've done so many tasks that I can't believe there is still an hour left in the morning. Probably time for a nap soon!


Here's a peek at my latest play; this time it's applique. I couldn't resist this gorgeous umbrella print and the half-metre piece I bought has been sitting in my stash for several months. I bought it for a pieced quilt I have started to imagine, but when I wanted some fabric for hand applique, it called out to be used. Hmm. Will probably need to buy some more now!

This is my first hand applique. Before I started I pulled my copy of Liuxin Newman's book, Perfect Hand Applique with Thimblelady, off the shelf and had a thorough read. My first few curves were a challenge, but soon I worked out a rhythm that was comfortable. It can only get better with practice.

22 October 2009

Quilt patterns

There are now patterns for three of my quilts available in my SEWnSELL shop, so I thought you might be interested in the stories behind the quilts.
My version of the traditional Thousand Pyramid layout is called Pyramids from the Stash. It is my absolute favourite quilt and is the one I sleep under every night. I made it to try to use up blue fabrics in my stash - as if! Easy to cut and piece by machine, it is the perfect pattern to make if you like scrap quilts or you could be more coordinated and plan your colour layout. I didn't; I just alternated light and dark blue fabrics.

This quilt, Sunshine on Roses, cheers me everytime I look at it. It is currently draped across a high-backed cane chair in my living room and I feel it smiles at me. One day, I suddenly had the urge to make a yellow and pink quilt after I saw sunshine highlighting the petals on a pink rose in my garden. I started collecting fabrics and thought about how I could use them. The pattern is easy to make and also perfect for using your stash. There are only two blocks in the quilt.
Now this one is fun. I called it Girt. If you are not Australian, you might not understand the reference, so I probably should explain. In the centre of each block I have used a fabric covered in small Australian flags. The blocks are made with red/ochre/green fabrics, to represent the land of our country. The outside border is pieced with blue/ochre fabrics to represent the oceans that surround the land. Deep and meaningful, isn't it?
Anyway, in our national anthem, there is a line "our home is girt by sea" (girt means surrounded) and since my blocks are surrounded by blue fabric, I wanted to use that wonderful word, Girt, as the name of the quilt.
Girt is sitting here on the shelf beside me. So even if you don't know anything (or care!) about the story behind the quilt, the pattern is fun to make. All the strips are short so it is perfect for scraps. Fun and easy.
These are the first three patterns I've released in my shop. I have a couple more nearly ready to be loaded, so look out for them soon. I hope you enjoy them.

21 October 2009

Queensland Quilt Show

Since I'm not able to be in Brisbane to see the quilts at the Queensland Quilt Show this week, I appreciate the opportunity to see photos of most of the winning quilts here. Thanks to Queensland Quilters for allowing us to see the photos so soon after the winners were announced and congratulations to all the winners.

20 October 2009

Annual excursion

It seems that I only venture over to IKEA once a year. Probably just as well. Today I spent the morning there and enjoyed myself thoroughly (as usual). I never go to the shop on weekends - weekday mornings are best, when there is no problem finding a parking space right near the exit.

The new catalogue is out so I snaffled a copy for later drooling. The excitement of the excursion was when I saw everyone's favourite bookcase, Billy, is now available in blue! Be still, my heart. Now all I have to do is try to justify another bookcase to myself...

19 October 2009

Woo-hoo!

It's a very exciting day for me because I've just opened my new SEWnSELL shop. You can find my first three quilt patterns there now, so I'd love it if you would have a peek. There is more to come, but that's enough thrills for one day. I'm exhausted!

18 October 2009

Sunday snapshot

Preparing - patterns of some of my quilts, including this one, Indigo Tiles. I'm used to writing patterns, but designing the layouts is an interesting new experience.
Reading - The girl who kicked the hornets' nest by Stieg Larsson. Just finished it and loved it (even though the book is so heavy to hold).
Building - a garden structure out of concrete blocks. Surely all those squats are good for me?
Planting - cream nasturtiums and blue salvia. Yum.
Loving - daylight saving in springtime. Perfect for pottering in the garden.
Planning - a possum-proof vegetable garden. I have the technology!

15 October 2009

Hello to The Netherlands

I'm waving in your direction! Welcome to all the quilters from The Netherlands who have visited my blog in the past day. It's lovely to see you all and I hope you've found something of interest here. Please leave a comment and say hello!

It's reassuring that some of you had more interesting days than I did yesterday -read about it here. I'm trusting today will offer more stimulation. (By the way, the vacuum cleaner is a beauty. I took it for a whirl up and down the stairs yesterday - where I tried out its special narrow turbo head - and it was great. Just thought you were dying to know.)

Some of my quilt patterns will soon be ready for sale, but not until I stop grappling with logo ideas and make a decision. I'll get there eventually, but in the meantime my mind is spinning with concepts. Too many options, I think.

14 October 2009

Highlight of my day

I'm glad you asked. In between dropping things off to people, paying bills and zapping everthing metallic with static electricity caused by the very dry winds raging in Sydney, the highlight of my day was buying a new vacuum cleaner. Yes, really.

If you day was more exciting than mine, please leave a comment. I'm sure you won't be able to top my highlight, though.

12 October 2009

Thinking things through

Since I finished all my current work tasks yesterday, I've spent today thinking about what I'd like to achieve and how I can best do that. More thinking needs to be done, but at least I've started the planning.

One of the things on my list is to do more applique. Considering that I do exactly none now, that surely won't be difficult to achieve? I've had my copy of Barabra Brackman's Encyclopedia of Applique for a few weeks now (approximately $30 cheaper than I could purchase locally, thanks to The Book Depository) but really haven't had time to delve into it properly until today. It is a completely updated edition of her original 1993 book and has certainly started me thinking about shapes and designs.

Also on the subject of applique, I came across this website today - All About Applique. I have already learnt some handy tips there to get me motivated.

Back to my planning...

11 October 2009

Progress

Yesterday was my Slow Burners class at Material Obsession. I am always excited to see the progress that has been made since last month's class and there was plenty to see this time!

First, Susan showed us her joined Rose Star blocks. Our task for the day was to choose border fabrics for this quilt, so we all trooped into the shop and carried back bolts we thought would work. Two winners were chosen, but you'll have to wait until next month to see how Susan puts them together. What a beauty this quilt will be.

Susan has already started work on her next hand-pieced project - Feathered Star blocks made with Fossil Fern fabrics. She had a stash of these at home, just waiting for the right pattern to come along. We are looking forward to seeing some pieces cut out next class.

Lyn has finished her gorgeous quilt now, having had it professionally quilted. I love the striped binding that just sets off the border perfectly. This block is Grandma's Star.

Lyn's next project is with the Daisy Days block. These are her first two so far. I love the use of black and white centres.

Deidre is in the process of piecing her Chook Shed quilt together. Fantastic orange-surrounded Queen of the May blocks glow from the black backgrounds. Yum.

All these blocks are cut with the terrific Victorian Textiles perspex templates that I enjoy using so much. You can buy them from Material Obsession - check out the new MO website here! You can use the templates with a rotary cutter or you can trace around them with a pencil. Either way, they make hand piecing a breeze. (You can also machine-piece the blocks of course, but why deprive yourself of the joy of rhythmic hand piecing?)