30 September 2008

Possibilities

I have long had an idea in my head to use a piece of my hand-dyed fabric to create a wholecloth quilt, using hand stitching. What better way to try this out, than to make a journal quilt!

Sometimes I surprise myself - does this ever happen to you? I dyed this piece of fabric earlier in the year, admired it, and then promptly folded it up and stored it in the cupboard. When I went looking for a piece of fabric for my next journal quilt, there it was, just looking at me. This quilt is obviously just meant to be. (Brenda, you may have some inkling of where this design is going?) I'm so excited that part of me prepared a piece of fabric for a quilt that I hadn't even thought of. I'm going to start stitching NOW.

Stop press:
I have just had a phone call from Helen. She has the most exciting news to share about one of her quilts. She promised she would blog it today, so why don't you pop over later and read her news? Way to go, Helen!

28 September 2008

Potatoes

This year I decided to grow potatoes in a hessian sack. Of course, I didn't have one of those, so I bought some hessian and sewed a sack of my own. On the Bernina - what a versatile machine!

The idea is that you roll down the sides of the sack and plant the seed potatoes in potting mix and cow manure then, as the growth emerges, you roll up the sides and top up the mix. This is the urban gardener's version of hilling the soil over the plants.

I took this photo yesterday and it shows the first growths. Today I rolled up one fold on the side and added more mix. So far, so good. It is ghastly weather here today - hot with an extremely dry wind from the north-west. Classic bushfire weather, so I hope it's not a forecast of the summer to come.

27 September 2008

Market day

While I am not sampling the produce of France like Brenda, I am still able to enjoy a weekly farmers' market in my local outdoor mall. It has been three weeks since I first walked there and the seasonal produce for sale has changed. This week's sour dough bread is rosemary and olive. I look forward to some of that with my salad tonight. Asparagus is in season, so I have a bunch of that and I purchased two locally grown plants - chives and sweet basil. I have several clumps of garlic chives in my garden but sometimes it is the onion flavour that I need.

25 September 2008

June journal quilt

How cool - I have five followers! Hello Pennie, Robyn, Wendy, Karen and Lisa. I promise you I'm not a cult leader, but I could easily lead you astray (hehe). I'd love it if other readers would consider adding themselves as followers - see the previous post for an explanation.

I have finished my June journal quilt, responding to the theme of fire. It is called Peaks of Flame and is machine stitched over handmade silk paper and hand-dyed fabric. I didn't bind it, but simply edged it with narrow variegated yarn. I have to confess that I love it (is that too self-indulgent?).

24 September 2008

New gizmo

Blogger has added new features to its blog software and I've picked up on one of them - follower. If you follow my blog, you can click on the link under the Followers heading on the right-hand side of this page (you'll need to scroll down a bit) and follow the instructions.

I don't have any followers yet. Who will be first?

Added 4pm - Pennie is first! Yay!

23 September 2008

Self indulgence

This was the theme for the day. Sometimes it's difficult to focus on the projects that should be done; rather I pick up something entirely different. Today was spent having a DVD-athon (Love My Way, series 2 and the beginning of series 3) while I knitted a scarf. Brilliantly relaxing afternoon!

22 September 2008

June journal quilt

I am trying not to get distracted by my gorgeous Amy Butler fabric. (This, of course, is the challenge of working in a quilt shop - the glorious Material Obsession - because the fabrics just call out to you.) Instead, I am attempting to stay focused on completing more journal quilts.

This is a detail shot of my June quilt. It is not finished yet, but I'm very pleased with the way it is looking. Over a piece of hand-dyed yellow fabric, I layered a sheet of silk paper that I made last year. The silk paper is deliberately patchy, so that the yellow shows through. I have stitched it with a variety of threads, including a glorious gold metallic Presencia thread, which sewed beautifully and did not break. I just wish I could remember where I got that thread!

This quilt doesn't have a name yet, but is made in response to the theme of fire. It is also one of my attempts to include more machine quilting in my work and to be more adventurous with threads.

20 September 2008

Must have






I saw it and I had to have it. Deco Rose (in navy), from the
Amy Butler Daisy Chain Collection. It was pure lust at first sight.

Don't ask me what I am going to make with it. I don't know, but it will involve large large pieces of this divine fabric. I have two metres!

18 September 2008

The wonderful EQ forum

Do you know about the Electric Quilt forum? It is the most wonderful resource for any user of EQ quilt design software. You can register to join the forum and post questions or, if you'd prefer, just browse the questions and answers without joining.

I have posted two questions to the forum this year and both times have had detailed answers within days. The EQ staff are extremely knowledgeable and are keen to help us make the most of the software.

My most recent dilemma related to the curved star hexagon blocks that I have been making using Matilda's Own templates. I wanted to use the block in EQ6 to draw up some quilt layouts. The most similar block in EQ is block 273, but it has space around the outside of the hexagon. I didn't know how to draw the block myself, so I asked the EQ forum.

Not only did I receive a project file from Penny McMorris, but Barb Vlack also provided step-by-step instructions for tracing the block as a PatchDraw motif. Fantastic help!

Now my task is to follow the instructions to draw it for myself so I understand the complete process. I'll show you my drawings once they are done. Thank you so much to the Electric Quilt staff!

17 September 2008

May journal quilt

Limeade is my journal quilt responding to the theme of circles. My inspiration was a piece of fabric I printed with paint on bubble wrap. The pattern that was created was irregular circles of yellow and green, which reminded me of a bowl of lemons and limes.

I combined the printed fabric with some of my acidic-coloured hand-dyed fabrics. Each of the squares is one inch. After piecing them together, I hand stitched small circles in cotton thread and perle thread. Limeade is the result.

I am focusing on making journal quilts for a while, since I have committed to exhibiting five of them at the Australasian Quilt Convention in February, as part of the Australian/New Zealand Art Quilters' display. A bit scary, but maybe that's what I need at present.

16 September 2008

Imagine that!

A wonderful gift from my friend, Helen Godden, arrived in the mail today. This is the first in Helen's series of art quilt puzzles, based on her glorious quilts. The Imaginasaurus quilt was made in response to the theme Imagine That! in 2006, and was awarded second place in the Husqvarna Viking Masterpiece International Exhibition that same year.

The jigsaw puzzle contains 500 pieces and would be a fantastic gift for any quilter. You can buy the puzzles direct from Helen, by sending her an email.

I now need to find a flat and secure spot to start my puzzle, so that I can enjoy the detail in the quilt!

14 September 2008

Adventures with EQ6

The more I learn about this quilt design software, the more I admire its capabilities. I also recognise how little I know about its complexities.

I have identified the curved star hexagon as block number 273 in the Block Base libraries and for that I am grateful. (It means I don't have to draw it in EQ myself.) It is listed in Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns as Six Pointed Star, first seen in the Kansas City Star newspaper in 1938.

I am attempting to draw some quilt layouts featuring this block and, while I am having fun noodling around, I can't set it correctly the way I envisage it in my mind. I am awaiting advice from the excellent Electric Quilt Forum, so I may have some layouts to show soon.

13 September 2008

Daisy days

It was unseasonally hot today - over 30 degrees! Luckily I was working at the shop, out of the heat, and took the opportunity to try out another set of Matilda's Own templates. This one is called Daisy Days and I'm quite fond of it. You can buy the templates from Material Obsession.

I have to explain about the photo, though. I put the block on a dark background (mistake number 1), so the seam allowances are obvious. I cropped the photo a smidge too much at the bottom - the star points are actually quite sharp! (I promise to practise my photo cropping skills some more.)

12 September 2008

I know spring has truly arrived

when the Swans are out of the finals. We bombed out tonight so that's the end of the footy season for me. It's always disappointing when the season finishes, but I'll have the ritual washing of the footy scarf this weekend and then I'll start counting the days until next season begins.

10 September 2008

Novels about knitting

I've just finished reading Divas Don't Knit, in which the main character takes over her grandmother's wool shop and starts a knitting group. I enjoyed the cosyness of this novel and it has kick started my neglected knitting (that and the fact that I will be facilitating a knitting group at my library next year). There is a sequel to this called Needles and Pearls, which I will track down.

Do you have recommendations for any novels about knitters? I'd like to compile a list (which I'll make available here) and read my way through all the books you suggest. Please leave your recommendations in a comment or email me. Thanks!

09 September 2008

Even more



These are blocks I made yesterday. As you can see, I am having a great time choosing the fabrics for the stars. Isn't the tiny elephant print in the centre of the third block just gorgeous?

Don't despair if you are tired of seeing these blocks. I promise I won't show any more until I have them arranged in a quilt layout!




08 September 2008

Answers about curved star hexagons

Some of you are interested in my curved star hexagon blocks - thank you! I do not have a quilt pattern for these. I bought a set of Matilda's Own templates for the block because I was intrigued by the gentle curves around the centre piece and because I love star blocks.

My templates are from Material Obsession (the shop is in Gladesville in Sydney, phone 02 9817 2733, but they do mail order all over the world). The measurement of each side of the finished block is 4 inches (10 cm) and 8in (20cm) across the widest point.

I started making the blocks because I want to use some of the hundreds of blue fabrics I have in my collection. Once I make a pile of blocks, I will decide how I will join them together. At present, I'm thinking of sewing them in vertical rows in a strippy quilt design, but that idea might change. I'm hand piecing them, so please don't expect to see a quilt in the near future - a couple of years may be more realistic!

07 September 2008

More about selvedges

Yesterday, Kate gave me a big bag of selvedges cut from fabrics for her latest quilts. She cuts them off with at least half an inch of the pattern showing, just 'cause she's a generous person! The bag contained lots of gorgeous pieces from Heather Bailey's latest fabrics, so they are beautifully colour coordinated and I am looking forward to using them soon. If you want to see what I have been doing with selvedges, you can click here to see all my posts.

Some months ago, Karen Griska, author of the book Quilts from the Selvage Edge asked if she could use one of my selvedge photos on her blog. You can also see what other quilters are doing with these fun strips.

I met Kate through Scquilters. A group of us meets on the first Saturday of the month for sewing and socialising. Thanks to Pennie, we have our own blog and you can see what we got up to yesterday by clicking here. Lots of quilting goodies to see!

06 September 2008

We won

Tonight we won our first week's final of the AFL season. It was cold and wet, but we were there in all our red and white glory. I'm exhausted and have lost my voice. Next game: Friday night in Melbourne against Western Bulldogs. Onwards to victory....

05 September 2008

Today's positive moment

Well, most of the day, actually! It's raining. My garden says thank you and so does Sydney's water supply because the rain is falling over the dam catchment area. Such a glorious event.

04 September 2008

More hexagon stars

Yesterday I enjoyed a morning's sewing with Deborah. While talking, drinking coffee and enjoying the view from her back verandah, I made two more hexagon star blocks. I am still attracted to the gentle curves in these blocks and am enjoying the gentle pace of hand piecing.

02 September 2008

Adding up the small actions

Sometimes it's the small things I've been putting off that stop me in my tracks, so today I started to address some of them. I've been wearing a mangled pair of glasses at home for months (it's a long story to do with corrosion of metal frames, a snapped-off side piece, sticky tape and superglue - you can imagine how attractive that looks). Took myself off to the optometrist, had a thorough eye test and ordered new specs.

After staggering home, still reeling from the amount of money I've committed for glasses, I sewed a hanging sleeve to the back of a quilt that will be on display next month in Brisbane and Sydney. Filled in the permission form that goes with it.

By then I was on a roll. I sandwiched and basted my citrus journal quilt and then chose the threads for quilting. Since I'm meeting a friend for sewing tomorrow, I cut out another of my hexagon star blocks. Should be able to hand piece a couple of these blocks tomorrow.

So the day was made up of small actions, which resulted in a feeling of accomplishment. Think I deserve a reward, so now I'm looking forward to settling down with the latest Quilters Newsletter.

01 September 2008

Thank you

to everyone who left a comment or emailed me with advice following my previous post. I am grateful to everyone who took the time to offer some suggestions that had worked for them. I truly appreciate that so many of you got in touch. Perhaps your suggestions may also help other quilters.

I decided to completely stop thinking about my quilt making for a few days and let my mind focus on other things. The Sydney Swans (my footy team) are in the first finals next Saturday night, so today I travelled into Sydney's centre to buy tickets for the game. After the tickets were safely tucked into my bag (great seats!), I visited Sydney's best department store, David Jones.

Each year in spring, David Jones has stunning floral displays in all windows and throughout the ground floor of the Elizabeth Street store. This year, the theme is Carnival of Colour.
Inspired by the vibrant and colourful Carnavale in Rio de Janiero, the displays are awesome. There are over 450,000 blooms, 8,000 bamboo stems, 2,000 bromeliad plants and over 6,000 orchids. The perfume from the flowers is subtle, but it lingers in the air of the store. This is truly a wonderful sight and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Sydney before 14 September.

The amazing colours and textures of the floral displays have filled me with sheer delight. Spring is here and it fills me with great optimism.