Sunday, 28 December 2014

Santa Sack Swap 2014 Reveal

Earlier this year I signed up to the Santa Sack Swap again run by the lovely Cheryll.  My partner in crime this time was Barb

Both Barb and I had emailed each other as we had decided that we would open our gifts on Christmas Day, rather than the date published by Cheryll.  For me it made sense as I already had my Christmas present from my Dearly Beloved, and without Barb's presents, there would not have been anything for me under the tree on Christmas Day :-(

Boy did the lovely Barb spoil me!!

Here is what came in the post box:


I opened one present over breakfast before we went to church.  It was a 7.30am service, so there was no time to do any more.  Would you believe I picked the Santa Sack out to open!  It is so sweet.

 
When we got home from church, I took the rest of the presents out onto the balcony to open in peace over a cup of tea.

 
A little wall hanging; a beautiful French Vanilla candle; a little bon bon holder filled with Minties and Sherbets; a lovely embroidered candle mat (probably would rather use that as a mini table topper - would hate to drip candle wax on it!!); and a little Christmas pin cushion.  All of these things have lovely embroidery on them.   
 
Next was this lovely table runner, with some pretty tea cups embroidered on it.  Fits my coffee table perfectly.

 
And last, but not at all least is this gorgeous journal and cover.  Just look at that lovely embroidery!

 
Back very early in the swap, my blog friend Shez asked who I was partnered with, and when I told her, she said that Barb did the most beautiful embroidery.  She is not wrong!  The stitching is perfectly even, and really well executed.
 
Thank you Barb.  You have truly spoilt me.

And here is what I sent to her:

A Christmas decoration; a biscornu; a needle holder with an embroidered cover; a peg apron (with a pack of pegs too) and a mug carry bag.

And here is the Santa Sack I made for Barb.

 
I have heard back from Barb, and she has said she likes the things I have sent.  Whew!!  Although I love the idea of the swap, I always stress out about whether or not my partner will like what I make for her.
 
Now remember last post I said I would show you my nice tidy cutting table?  Well here it is.
 
 
At the back are several projects which are currently on the go, nice and neat in their own project bags.  We have to wait and see how long this lasts.  LOL.  Today's project is to tidy up the work table, which is currently littered with fabrics, sewing machines, and piles of squares and strips which I have cut from scraps.
 
Also yesterday I got the Dearly Beloved and my Son-in-Law to move an old sofa out of the room.  I have switched around the remaining furniture to give me more space.  Some old dining chairs are on the list to be removed as well.  I am fed up with my workroom being the dumping ground for all the excess furniture in the house.
 
Watch this space.....

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Boxing Day

According to the definition in Wikipedia, Boxing Day is a holiday traditionally celebrated the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a "Christmas box", from their bosses or employers.
 
In Australia it is:
 
- the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race
- the first day of the 3rd Cricket Test, which is played in Melbourne
- and the first day of the bedlam they call the post Christmas Sales
 
I don't care for any of that, so I generally hole up in my lair.  This year was no exception.  I went down in the morning determined that I would complete the quilt top that I am doing on commission, at least to the border stage.
 
I did get the blocks sewn together for three rows, but I couldn't settle. 
 
Do you ever do that?  I don't know if it was the fact that it I hadn't chosen the fabrics, or the design, but I really struggled with this, despite being full of resolve in the morning.
 
I still wanted to play with fabric, so I turned to tidying my cutting table which was a disaster area, completely covered with fabrics from the last few projects I had done, and lots of other sundry bits and bobs.  So I put everything away and began to chop the scraps into useable, functional squares.
 
Amongst the "stuff" I found the last piece of this fabric - just enough to cut a 2" strip
 
 
It came from a lovely lady called Kay, who was an ex-pat American back in about 2006.  I had coerced encouraged my group of quilt friends to make a charity quilt.  Kay walked in one day, and said "that quilt needs some yellow".  The following time we met she came with about 5 metres of this lovely yellow fabric.  She went back to the US quite suddenly just a couple of weeks later, leaving this fabric behind, and I lost track of her.  The last time I used it was in a quilt I made called "Go for Gold" for an Aussie Hero (see here and here for more about that quilt).
 
Where are you Kay?  Do you know that this lovely fabric of yours has been in about a dozen quilts?  All of them charity quilts?  So there are 12 or so people who have benefitted from your generosity.  You never got to see the quilt you helped make either....

 
It was really too complicated a quilt to make for charity, we should have chosen something quick and simple.  Nevertheless, we had some fun days, with a whole production line going - some sewing, some cutting, some ironing, and some laying out. 

 
We gave it to a charity called "Youth Off the Streets" to auction at a fund raising event.  It runs a number of programs including semi-permanent accommodation for street kids, refuges, residences for kids out on bail, and a street food van as well.

 
We called it "Cobbers & Freckles".  Both of these are old fashioned sweets.  In my childhood I used to walk up the road after school with my mates to the Newsagents (owned by Mr Roggiero) to buy a penny or two's worth of lollies (sweets/candy), and cobbers were my favourites - hard chewy caramels covered in chocolate.  Freckles were second favourites.  They were little round, flat chocolates with hundreds & thousands sprinkled all over them. Mr Roggiero had the lollies in great big glass jars behind the counter, and used to count them out into little paper bags.  From memory, cobbers were a penny each and freckles two for a penny.  What was your favourite lolly as a child??  Mine are still choc coated caramels, the  chewy-er the better!

So that was my Boxing Day.  The cutting table is looking pretty good.  I'll show that to you next post, when it is completely clear.

On another note.  I have decided to join into the Grow Your Blog party again this year.  Vicky at 2 Bags Full hosted it last year and I had such a ball visiting heaps of new to me bloggers!  And it increased my followers hugely.

Grow Your Blog 2015
 
If you would like to grow your blog you can join in the party too; you have until 15th January to register.  Click here or the pic above, or the one the right side bar (which will be there as soon as I finish up here)
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Two Finishes & a Flimsy

A few days ago I finished up Susan's quilt.  If you've been following along, you'll have read that I began this as my NewFO & Lets Book it Challenge in October.  I wrote a blog post about my progress here.  Life got in the way a bit but now its at the flimsy stage.  I will be taking it to Stitching Hearts to be quilted after Christmas.  I am really happy with the way it has turned out.
 
 
The background is in two different turquoise fabrics, and I have laid them out in pinwheels.  The circles are placed randomly.
 

Also about a week ago, I got the binding on Karen's quilt finished.  This was also the October NewFO and Lets Book it Challenge, so I can put a big tick on that.  Done!  This quilt was quilted by Robin.

 
Last Monday, I had a text from Robin to say she had finished quilting Linda's quilt, and that I could pick it up from her sister who lives not far from me.  So I dived down to Ettalong to pick it up, added the binding, then took it to Jan to sew down.  Thank you Jan, you are a lifesaver.  This quilt was a collaborative effort between Jan and I.  Its come up OK too.
 
 
With four of the five quilts completed, Jan and I set off for Wickham on Friday.  Here is the boot load of donations we took. 

 
I wrote up a special post about the trip on the Stitching Hearts blog here.  Do take a look at it, as there was heaps going on.

I have just realised that it's almost time for my second blogaversary in about 2 weeks.  Never imagined 2 years ago, that I would still be blogging 2 years later.  I shall have to put my thinking cap on and plan a giveaway.  Stay tuned.

Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Another Biscornu

The other night I finished my latest Biscornu.  How I love making these!  And I love this one to bits.
 
Top
I used a free pattern from Rainburst Embroidery called Stella by Starlight.  There are 2 patterns on this worksheet, and for this one I used the second of the two patterns.  I showed you the other pattern on that tutorial here;  it's the yellow one.

Bottom
The under side is a pared down version of the top.

Sides


Sides again
I used a DMC Rayon colour 30501 on even weave, tiny green seed beads, a few small pearls and a Swarovski crystal.  All of it except the crystal was from stash.  Bonus!

I started with the rayon thread with some trepidation, as I have had issues with it previously, but the embroidery went very smoothly.  I think probably because I only used one strand of it, so it didn't unravel as badly as it has done in the past.

The biscornu shines and twinkles and glitters and I just love it!

I'm itching to start another.  I'm also keen to have a go at a 15 sided one, just need to find the right design.

Also. I have been playing around with Instagram.  If you feel like visiting me, you'll find me on @dashabrandt or #patchingpixies.  Alternatively there is now a little button on the right hand panel which will take you straight there if you click on it.  Say hello if you stop by so that I can come visit you.

Til next time.....Keep on stitching

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Secret Santa Gifts

This year I have participated in two Secret Santas.  The first was with my friends from Friday Quilters, the second was with a group of ladies I have dinner with on a regular basis.  As both gifts have now been received and admired, I can reveal what I made.

I made the same gift for both, as neither group overlaps at all.  The gift was a mugrug and a little mug to go with it.  Both mugs were by "Heritage", Stoke-on-Trent, England, and were lovely fine bone china.

The pattern for the mugrug was a freebie tutorial by Julie at The Crafty Quilter.  Thank you Julie!

Here is my gift for Friday Quilters.

 
To go with this, there was this mug.
 
 
The design on this is called "Pink Campion" & my friend Cheryl picked the parcel out of the Santa Sack.
 
For the second gift, I actually knew the person for whom I was buying the gift, which made it a little easier and it was planning this gift which gave me the idea for both Secret Santa gifts.  The parcel was for Marian, so I was able to quilt her name into the bottom right section.

 
And the design on her mug was "Rose Fuchia".

 
All the fabrics were pieces from stash, and as I didn't need large bits, I made a point of choosing the small offcuts to use them up.  Good one!
 
The quilting was done with a gold YLI metallic thread, & I decided on a simple free motion meander.  I actually started with a fancy design and made such a dog's breakfast of it, that I chose to rip it all out and go with the stipple.  I'd had real issues with tension prior to this, and ended up having to use a gold cotton on the reverse to minimise the visibility of the gold coming through.  So I simply didn't have time to fiddle with this any longer.
 
Late last week, I had a little elf come by to help me put up our tree...

 
And they are the Santa Sack Swap gifts you can see under that tree.  I am being very patient.
 
This morning my lovely man agreed to come with me Christmas shopping, even though I gave him an out.  Bless him.  The most successful Christmas shopping trip ever.  I had made out a list from the advertising material which had come in the mail, and managed to buy everything on the list, and home by 11.15am.  Not bad eh?  I am glad he came, because I could not have managed the parcels on the bus.
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching

Sunday, 14 December 2014

An Afternoon Creating

A few days before we left to go to Queensland, my middle grand daughter, Miss 11 phoned to asked if she could come over for a visit.  They live just up the road from us, so we decided on an afternoon after school.
 
When she comes over, we often have afternoon tea and then play board games, but this time she was wanting to do some creating.  I had not prepared anything, but luckily I had a couple of kits left over from when I taught a card making workshop to the ladies at my local church earlier this year (you can see what we did here).  So we used those.
 
We changed up the design a bit, but there was lots of stamping....
 
 
And cutting involved.....

 
We had to coerce the Dearly Beloved to capture us both on film.  Perhaps there was a bribe of an afternoon tea involved.
 
And this is what we made.....
 

The colour is a bit washed out in that - the cards are a pretty pale sage green.

Love the grandees just popping in for a while.

This last 10 days or so have been hectic.  Lots of Christmas parties and finishing up of things that I usually have to do, like voluntary work etc.  My "days off" have been filled with all the mundane things like washing and groceries.  I just wish we could spread out the Christmas parties throughout the year to make life a little easier at the end of the year!

Till next time.....Keep on stitching

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

When is a NewFO not a NewFO??

I had intended this post to coincide with the NewFO linky party that Barbara runs at Cat Patches, but what with going away etc.,  (excuses, excuses excuses!!), it has been sitting in Drafts for a couple of weeks.  Oh well.  Better late than never.
 
At the eleventh hour, the day before we left, and when I should really have been packing, I decided to get some hand sewing together for the trip.  Don't know about you, but I always take hand sewing with me when I go away.  I decided to rat through my collection of unstarted projects & kits to see if there was anything there I could grab.  I found this...
 
 
A sweet little kit for a cushion with some redwork embroidery on the front of it.  The pattern is by Picaninni Patchwork, and I have absolutely no idea where or when I bought it.  Most likely one of the craft shows I have been to, and a very long time ago.
 
Here is a close up of the embroidery.
 
So I traced it up, and was away.  But to be honest, I probably should not have got in a fuss about taking handwork, because this is all I managed to achieve in the 5 days we were away. 
 
 
To top it all off, my sweet little embroidery scissors were taken from me at the security gate at the airport.  Was I spitting chips!!  I had completely forgotten that I was only taking carry-on luggage.  I've flown so many times, I should have thought......
 
Oh well.  No point in carrying on about it (no pun intended, hee hee hee).  I shall just have to go to the LQS (good excuse eh?).

And as I am too late to link up to the linky party, I am just going to have to publish this post anyway.

Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Slow Stitching Tonight

Today was my first whole day at home since 27th November.  That was the day we flew to Queensland for the bridge tournament.  Before you ask, we did very badly.  Sigh.

It was just about the first time I had sat down to the machine since then as well, although I did manage to squeeze in an hour or so on Wednesday. 

I put the binding onto Karen's (not her real name) quilt.  If you'd like to see my previous post, you will find it here.

 
I took it to Stitching Hearts a few weeks back, and Robin quilted it for me on her long arm.  It is a full queen size, so not manageable on my DSM.
 
I will be sewing the binding down by hand tonight, and probably many more nights as well.

While attaching the binding, I was thinking about the way I do it - I use my walking foot and quilting gloves, and I don't cut off the excess until after I have attached the binding.  I find that leaving the extra fabric & wadding on:

- gives the walking foot more room on which to feed the fabric;
- my hands have more fabric to grasp to guide the seam;
- and I can even off any slightly wavy edges, by using the edge of the binding as a seam guide instead of the edge of the quilt top. 

I then cut off the excess using the seam as a cutting guide rather than the edge of the quilt top.  This gives me a nice even 1/2" excess and a nice plump binding without any gappy bits.

How do you sew on binding?  Do you chop the excess off first?  Have you done it my way?

Linking up today with Kathy for Slow Stitching Sunday.

Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

RSC14 - Last Week of November

Today is the last Saturday of November, and officially the last day of the light blues.   I have little to show off this week.  All I have done are 2 little Jacobs Ladder blocks.. 
 
 
The colour looks shot in this photo.  Everything looks tinged with yellow.  I took the photo outside this time, thinking that the natural light would end u with a better photo.  Didn't work did it!
 
Pretty much every month this year I started with the two easiest blocks, and there are several months when I never got done the two more complex patterns.  So this month I decided to start with the most difficult blocks. 
 
December will be reconciliation month catching up on all the blocks I didn't get done.  I probably won't get the tops done until after Christmas.
 
The rest of the gang are showing of their pale blue creations at soscrappy.  Why not check out what's been done?
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Santa Sack Swap

Earlier this year I signed up to the Santa Sack Swap run by the lovely Cheryll, who blogs at Gone Stitchin' 
 
 
You sign up in June and you have a little over 5 months to produce 5 gifts plus either a Santa sack, a tote or a Christmas stocking.  Cheryll matches each participant with another and you get to know them over the time you have to sew for them.
 
My swap buddy was Barb, who blogs here at Barb's Creations. 
 
I got all the gifts wrapped for Barb and ready to post on Monday.  Here is my little pile just before I put it in the post pack.
 
 
We aren't allowed to open the gifts until Cheryll tells us we can, or Christmas Day, if we can hold out that long.  LOL.  So I can't show you what I made for Barb, until after she has opened hers.
 
Still on the Christmas theme, I got an early phone call on Monday to ask if Miss 8 could come by on the way to school because "she had something to show me". 
 
Look at what came in the door!!

 
There's spools of thread, tape measures, scissors, thimble, pins, pin cushion, buttons and a bobbin on this little tree.  Plus there is a set of fairy lights which light up when you turn them on.  Miss 8 had created it over the weekend, and she found the idea was on Freebies for Crafters.
 
All I can say is: Awesome!!  Isn't it great??
 
It will be my table centrepiece for Christmas.

So this afternoon, I came home from having my hair cut and found my swap parcel from Barb.  Here is what was in the box:

 
What better place to put it, but where the Christmas tree will be when I get around to erecting it?  And my little tree went to join the parcels.

 
I plan to wait until Christmas Day to open mine.  I actually already have my Christmas gift from the Dearly Beloved, so these will be the only gifts for me under the tree this year.
 
We are flying to Queensland tomorrow to represent the Central Coast in the finals of the Grand National Open Teams (bridge).  There are apparently 64 teams playing this year, from all over Australia.  Wish me luck!!  Not sure when you'll hear from me next as the play days are long and pretty full on.
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Farewell HMAS Success

On Sunday, five of us representing Aussie Hero Quilts farewelled the HMAS Success on its 6 month deployment in the Middle East.

It was a day of many impressions. 

Sadness.... families.... pride.... sailors everywhere in their sparkling whites.... the medals flashing in the sunlight and if you were in the wrong place, bright enough to blind you momentarily.... kids everywhere.... family groups taking that last photo.... a young girl standing quietly clinging to her boyfriend, the tears sliding silently down her cheek, knowing she won't see him for many months.

We were met by the ship's Warrant Officer.


Dasha, Gail, WO, Caroline & Evelyn
The WO brought the captain and several recipients and would be recipients to us for us to meet and greet.


The public were allowed to go on board so I went up to see what it was like on board.  It is Spartan - not like your usual cruise ship.

 
The tiny helicopter on board.
 
 
Then it was time for the official speeches.  Can you see the 5 Cormorants on the hawser completely oblivious to the proceedings?
 
Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, CSC and Bar, RAN
Then it was time to leave and the crew went on board single file.
 
 
And lined up on all the decks until departure....
 
 
 
the gang plank being lifted by the crane (why did I think the gang plank lived on the ship?)....


The brass band (with all the members in their pristine whites having stood in the blazing sun in 40C heat) playing the Australian Anthem....
 
 
while the hawsers were drawn back onto the vessel and the tugs began to pull it out into the harbour....
 
 
And she was away, with much waving and more tears flowing....
 
 
 
 
I knew no one on board, but standing there watching her go, I got a distinct lump in my throat.  Can't imagine how hard it would be for the loved ones standing on that wharf.
 
Contrast of the Success sailing out of the harbour and the James Craig passing Fort Denison directly behind it in its wake....

 
On the way back to the car, we passed HMAS Canberra, which was moored behind Success and is very much bigger than her.   I felt like a midget standing on that wharf below it.


An emotional day for many people, and an honour to have been invited to be part of it.