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?