Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Goodbye my blue eyed boy

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ” 
Anatole France

Our darling cat Teddy left us on Thursday. He had many years ahead of him but these were not to be. He slipped out a window while we were sleeping, probably feeling pleased with himself for being so clever and we think he was hit by a car. 

He came to us as an 8 week kitten and from the day he arrived he ruled the house from my shoulder, a position he still insisted on even as he passed 5 1/2 kilos. 

Cross eyed and terrified of birds, he nonetheless saw himself as a skilled hunter. He had the  'bottom wiggle' technique perfected and great was the excitement when he brought his first and only 'kill' in, although the plastic trap still attached to the rodent's cold stiff corpse hinted that the prey may not have been moving quickly ... if at all. 

When he lost his tail in an accident we thought his beauty would be marred but that wagging stump was a feature of his doglike nature and he became an icon in the immediate neighbourhood. Teddy loved people. The more people the better and he knew people loved him back - even the few who didn't. He was loving and loyal and when his best friend, 'Ariel the hen' died he daily sat at the door of the empty henhouse for several weeks and mourned her. 

 So many memories that make me smile and cry in turn. 
He was the last of the pets we had as a family and he has left us with a very empty house.

Darling Theodore, gift of God, most loved cat, vocal, opinionated, strong willed, curious, playful, bedwarming neck snuggler, leaver of dirty footprints, you and your innocent loving blue eyes are missed so much. 

“…love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”  Khalil Gibran


Saturday, 14 May 2016

Little Miss Organised

'Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication' 
 Leonardo Da Vinci

I don't know if I've ever mentioned that I am a chronic hoarder with bouts of being a mad declutterer... 
This month (year?) is my tidying and decluttering burst. I'm not sure my husband takes my decluttering seriously - actually I'm not sure my friends do either as I dive through their bins looking for that half inch of fabric they've wastefully thrown away...  but I know that anyone who reads this will be awed and inspired by the organisation achieved. (as long as I keep my photos well cropped!)

For Mother's Day, my husband gave me this long coveted set of ikea drawers. The top 2 are essentials but the next 4 contain secret women's business - i.e. projects still to be finished. How handy! I can whip them out in a second instead of scuffling about, bottom in the air, going through the boxes under my desk. Maybe one glimpse of that - full on rear view was what inspired him? 
I don't think I'll ask. 

On my desk, organisation is taking place in this set of shelves. I made these earlier this year but only finished painting them a couple of days ago - if anyone wants to know what tedious is, it's painting 68 individual cotton reels so they don't stick together! Its supposed to be a bit casual and shabby chic. The shabby I got down to perfection. The chic??? Well...

A couple of half finished cushion covers are stored comfortably on the back of my sewing chair where they provide warmth and padding and can be found the instant I get sewing again. 
Maximum efficiency!

and Sylvia's Bridal Sampler is almost finished - 6 blocks (and a wee matter of assembling and quilting) to go. 

What will I do with my time when my sewing room is organised and my quilt finished?!?!? 


Sunday, 17 April 2016

Monday is washing day...


Who knew laundry could be so exciting! It was for me this month when Homespun magazine published my pattern for a vintage style peg bag. What a thrill! I've been beaming like crazy and 'whistling while I work'. 

Teddy was pretty excited too

Now its back to normal routine;

Catching up on Splendid Sampler blocks...

I needed a break after cutting out all 57 pieces of Family Stars
tending the garden...

and stressing about returning to my paid job after an 8 month (much needed) break... 


Friday, 1 April 2016

Mending and pottering

There is satisfaction seeing a line of freshly mended linens in the sunlight of a new day 
 ready for their renewed life. 

With a pile of mending to tackle it was time to write a blog post instead. 

No relevant quotes sprang to mind so consulting google I found a choice between biblical James and John mending their nets and a selection of erotic paragraphs which wouldn't be out of place in a certain popular 'mummy porn' series. 


Then this popped up - Eeeek!!!

Maybe it's a hint to just get the mending done? 

(if anyone gets the same message, DO NOT call this 'helpline'.  I'm warned they will request remote access to 'fix' the problem. Just close the computer down, force quit if necessary and open new web pages when you return. )

So having discovered holes in our linens (still puzzling how that happened) and with no computer to sidetrack me it was an opportunity to try out some of Jerome Janome's extra stitches. Jerome was merely Jeremy a couple of years ago but since he has been joined by a selection of vintage straight stitch machines, Bonnie, Elspeth and Evie, he rather fancies himself as an 'artiste' with his 60 different practical and decorative stitches and unlike the lovely reliable girls, he  enjoys a bit of temperament as well.

To pacify his disdain at being put to mending (stitch #23 is superb) I added a luxurious length of lace to the top hem of the sheet - not only beautiful but helpful to find the top of the sheet when groping about in the night!

A bit of hand patching and embroidery to finish off as well some boring repairs to other items which don't need to be shared.

Naturally I had lap help until a better spot became vacant...

mmmm, lovely warm ironing board.

In the garden, Ariel, our last pet chicken left us a few months ago (aged nearly 15. We miss her still) and without her scratching about the food scraps the chookpen is bursting with produce! Looking at the developing pumpkins I'm thinking there's been some hanky panky going on between the butternuts and the japs...

Roses are blooming, mulberries are returning and the tomatoes and raspberries are starting to look promising. The hydrangeas have a few stragglers taking advantage of the undone pruning too.  
We also had a feast of potatoes when it was time to dig up the potato bed - lasting one meal. 

Gorgeous weather for the garden so a bit of sewing neglect and I'm now a couple of blocks behind in the Splendid Sampler. Oh well, everything happens in time.


Thursday, 17 March 2016

Better late than never

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. 
The man who never reads lives only one."
George R R Martin

My friend seemed to think that my blog was now 'inactive'. Surely not? I write so many blog posts in my head while pottering on other projects that you must be aware of every thought I've had in the last 4 months! But technology hasn't managed to keep up and there isn't a wireless connection between my brain and the computer... although possibly thats not quite the case because my iMac has been as scrambled as my thoughts lately and doing very odd things! 

Fingers crossed we have that sorted - computer and me.

I'll catch up with photos because somehow the missing months are a blur.

Christmas was duly celebrated with far too much eating and lots of afternoon naps required.

Then came New Year and inspiration to begin afresh

(at this point I've walked the length of the London underground while simultaneously 
wandering all over Hawaii!)

and make firm resolutions 
such as ONLY work on projects already started 
like  'Hexies on Hexies' quilt-as-you-go friendship flower swap quilt.

Maybe even finish something!

New Year also brought the final visit of our eldest child before he flew from Australia for his world adventure with plans to only return for visits. 

 February it was our turn to travel so we headed overseas to Tasmania 
and saw...  big beautiful fur-coated bumblebees!

Along with a 1000 bumblebee photos, there are a few snaps
from fascinating Port Arthur, 

(oops, how did that hexie quilt and that willow pattern china slip in there!)

...beautiful Strahan, with the small settlement of delightful heritage listed little tin huts built for seaside holiday makers a century ago and now. 6ft1 hubby was less enthusiastic about the 5ft10 doorways - ouch!

and magnificent Hobart
plus a bonus Tuesday stitching day with Lyn who happened to be in Hobart too, holidaying with her family. 
(We might have visited a few patchwork shops too.)

and yes, there are rabbits on the drive of that beautiful stone public building
 in the middle of one of Australia's capital cities.

It was sad to leave the beautiful crispness of Hobart (snow on Mt Wellington!!!)  to return to hot and dusty Toowoomba and a parched garden 

but now the date had come to begin 

Out came Evie, a meter and a half of red rose fabric from the stash and off to Spotlight to buy red and white homespun and my 'Splendid Scarlet Sampler' was born.

I'm loving this year long 100 block challenge, made more challenging by only using 3 fabrics instead of the 35 recommended. 

If you haven't heard of it, there's still time to catch up to the 18000+ stitchers around the world subscribed on Facebook.  

Back thrifting, the Elm Creek Quilts Album called me to come and rescue it and now that my Sylvia's Bridal Sampler box is nearly full of blocks it has been lovely to read the (fictional) story behind this quilt and others.

The beloved had to spend another week away and it did occur to me that it would be a good chance to get some much needed Spring (Autumn) cleaning done but then another thought came that it would be a good chance


SEW without interruption!!

So I assessed the stash and found there was enough fabric 

 to begin 

the 'Second Splendid Sampler'

I'm loving the brights as much as the reds!

New Year Resolutions? Pfft!!

And for anyone who has been looking at their unfinished Bluebird of Happiness Quilt, I apologise very much for holding you up. The assembly instructions are now on Craftsy and I would be thrilled if you sent a photo of your finished work for me to include in a blog post.


Friday, 13 November 2015

Easy Peasy No Sew Mini Christmas Bunting

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.
W.T. Ellis

Still not enough time to sew (the front steps featured highly in the pest mans report and have needed work  total rebuild (grumble grumble grumble) so at first chance I grabbed a spare hour and made mini Christmas bunting!

How organised am I!
Its amazing how that happens when there are other things you should be doing...

In case anyone else is in need of procrastination material here you are!

Bits and Pieces: 
  • Scraps of fabric big enough to be cut into 2 x 4 inch rectangles. I also did 4 inch squares so I can make a second lot of bunting.
  • vliesofix
  • string

Cut your scraps into 4 inch squares, 2x4 inch rectangles or a mixture if you have big and small scraps

If you have lovely new flat vliesofix, protect your ironing board with an old pillowcase, lay your fabric pieces out and iron them face up onto it. 

This is a good time to use those scrappy, peeling, slightly dodgy bits of vliesofix you always seem to have left over. Don't worry about joining bits or mixing brands. 

If you have lots of small bits of vliesofix, put some baking paper onto your board (not pictured), place your fabrics face DOWN onto it then your vliesofix, adhesive side down on top, ironing each piece on individually.

Use scissors to separate the 2x4 and 4x4 pieces then

trim any 4 inch squares to 2x4 inch rectangles 

and fold each rectangle in half, wrong sides together, then peel the paper backing off.

Leave the first 12 inches or so of string for hanging and don't cut your string to length until finished.
Working one flag at a time, fold each over the string on the refolded line and press closed.
Use a ruler for spacing and allow 1/2 inch between each.

when they are all in place you can cut your string leaving another 12 inches.

Now you can stop here, maybe add a nice zig zagged bottom but I like the traditional fete style triangles

draw a template onto a piece of scrap card and cut out.

Label the top because triangles can be tricky little beggars, lay it onto each flag and cut the sides. You can mark these first but because the flags are so small it's just a snip on each side with scissors.


Ta Da!

Easy Peasy!

Don't toss the offcuts because I have another project to use those.


Friday, 30 October 2015

The good and the not so good

"Some primal termite knocked on wood; 
and tasted it, and found it good. 
That is why your cousin May 
fell through the parlor floor today." 
Ogden Nash 

What a week! From the sublime to the ridiculous.

The sublime is of course a day sewing with friends Fiona and Lyn and as our Sylvia's Bridal Sampler blocks become more complicated we have been slowing the pace a little. Or being more honest, they have been patiently waiting while I struggle to keep up...

Naturally there was homework:
 And with such tiny pieces it time to raid the mis-cuts and leftovers box.
(oops, some of those look like Fiona's bits...shhh)

an evening with Evie and a hot cup of milo

an interesting selection of Y seams, hand piecing, foundation piecing and normal patchwork, all in 6 1/2 inches and 'modern tulip' was finished. 
It looks a LOT simpler than it was!!!!!

During the week I had another go at fmq and, after lots of machine and foot advice on Facebook, managed to produce a large coaster from one of my reject Sylvia blocks. I'm glad I'm not relying on making these for a living... unless there is a market for 3 figure mug mats with 'naive' quilting!

The second sublime thing was:


I didn't ask a question being a shy retiring type, but nothing I could have asked would have had the importance of the questions that were put forward. The tragedy in people's lives reminds you to treasure each moment. 

What a wonderful theatre we have to host such occasions.

If only I'd known they wanted audiences for Compass and The Book Club too.

Evie finally got her travel accessories (a generous free tutorial from this blog: Crafty Hipster.) 

I'm pondering making a mat with pockets to hold bits for her to sit on now but I also need a pincushion and a scrap/thread bag. With the pounds she is gaining due to accessorising it might be easier to sling the treadle into the car for sewing days!

And the ridiculous?

Pottering around the chook pen I turned a log and discovered these beasties:

...6 inches from our new back fence. 
The pest man who arrived soon after wasn't concerned at that proximity; 'they can travel 200m' he informed me cheerfully!

An all over check of the house and garden, lots of deadly chemicals, some eyewatering quotes and much paper signing later, we were reminded to remove all loose logs. (bye-bye most of my garden edging)

Guess who won't be sewing much in the next few weeks...

Hope you have a lovely week