Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Hand Stitching this Month & Other Things

This past month or so I have done a fair bit of hand sewing in the evenings.

First up I taught a workshop at my local church.  They run a little group on a Wednesday morning called Buttons.  I chose to do some gorgeous little Christmas decorations from a pattern by Michelle Ridgeway.  I taught the class with Michelle's gracious blessings.

I made all four of the available patterns (which you can buy from Michelle's blog here along with dozens of other divine goodies).  I made up little baggies with the necessary supplies, and the ladies chose which of the patterns they wanted to make.  The little candy cane was the most popular, followed by the bird.  Here they all are, busy on the first of the two scheduled days.

I have also been working on a Christmas gift which I can't show you yet, but suffice to say it is embroidered, and (I think) it's gorgeous!

Back ages ago, my daughter brought around a quilt I had made for my eldest grand daughter in 2004 which required repair.  Their cat had chewed a hole clear through it!

Well, I have been sitting on this for a while.  I couldn't decide how to repair it.  The only solution which seemed feasible was to applique a patch on both the front & back and fill the space with an off cut of wadding.  Finally I got stuck into it and chose a fabric to use on the front after discarding what seemed like a gazillion options.  As luck would have it, I had a scrap of the backing fabric left over.  Fortunate!
I had used that dog fabric in one of the blocks so it wasn't out of place.
Here is the full quilt.  Tibby photo bombed it before I got a chance to take the photo.

And decided to settle in.

I have done a bit of sleuthing. 

Sleuthing job No. 1 - Remember I showed you a pic of an interesting bird I had never seen before, which I spied at Bulladelah a couple of weeks back? 

I have identified it as a Blue-faced Honeyeater.  If you are so inclined you can find out a bit more about it here and see some good pictures of it too.  I guess the reason I haven't seen it before is that from the top 1/3 of the NSW coast the area it inhabits seems to veer inland, and I live on the coast.

Sleuthing job No.2 - Remember the Triffid I showed you a month or so back, growing in the back yard of a house in Avoca Drive?

I have identified that too!  Last night I was watching Gardening Australia which I had taped from a couple of weeks back, and they showed this plant.  It is a Swan Neck Agave.  The actual film segment I watched is embedded in the fact sheet here.  If you care to take a look at the clip, it's only a few minutes long and you will get a treat of hearing a couple of Dinkum Aussie accents as well as seeing a beautiful garden.  The Agave is discussed about 2 minutes into the clip.
I will finish off tonight with a photo taken the other day on a walk along the waterfront at Davistown the day my friend Colette came up for lunch.
Til next time.....Keep on stitching

Saturday, 27 September 2014

(Almost) the End of the Oranges

Today is the last Saturday of the month and that means a link up with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge at soscrappy.  The colour for this month has been orange.

I was away last week end and did not get a chance to write a post of my progress, so today I shall show you what I achieved in the last two weeks. 

I have been away, and have also had family staying with me for several days, on top of my usual busy life, that meant that I had only snatched minutes through the past couple of weeks in which I could sew.  So, without further ado....

Two Jacobs Ladder blocks.
One scrappy 25 patch block.

And one Road to Tennessee Block.  Still my favourite!

I still have to make some Road to Oklahoma blocks for last months pale green colour and for the oranges.  I have 3 days at home starting tomorrow, so guess where I am heading??
Do take the time to go visit here to see what else people have created.
On another note entirely.  My wonderfully kind Dearly Beloved came home the other day with a tablet for me.  In his interests of course, so that he could reclaim his.  LOL.  I have been coming to grips with various apps & things.  Do you read your Blog reading list on an Android tablet?  If you do, do you use an app?  Would love it if you could leave me a comment and tell me what is best to use.  I have been accessing Blogger to read the Blogger reading list there, but I find it a little clunky.  Thanks heaps for taking the time to fill me in. 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Cousins Part 1

My cousin has come from Melbourne to stay with us for a few days with her two kids and we have done some wonderful things.  Sadly my daughter & her family are off on their holiday right now so I have not been able to introduce them. 

I love playing tourist with visitors to the area.  Mind you I haven't lived here long enough to know everywhere and everything so its sometimes a voyage of discovery for me too.

Thursday was a bit bleak.  Definitely not beach weather, so we decided to go to Blackwall Mountain, which is about 20 minutes drive from here on the way to Woy Woy.  By the time we got there, the Dearly Beloved took the kids up to the top through a drizzly rain, while my cousin & I had some quiet chat time.

The kids found a cave half way up

View from the top.

Lion Island shrouded in misty rain.  You can just make out Barrenjoey Headland in the background where the Hawkesbury River meets the Pacific Ocean.  If you aren't familiar with this area, Barrenjoey is the north easterly tip of the Sydney Metropolitan area.

Here's the ferry which has just left Ettalong wharf.  It is headed for Palm Beach, just down from Barrenjoey Headland.

Scrambling down the hillside

After the intrepid, and slightly damp mountaineers had returned to base, we headed off to the waterfront at Ettalong, where we found a picnic shelter for some lunch.

Just look at that glowering sky in the background.

We rounded off the afternoon by walking up into Ettalong proper (only 5 minutes from the waterfront) for a cuppa.  We found Hatters Tea Room, which had been recommended to me ages ago.  Brilliant place!  Real tea in a silver teapot, and not one Gluten Free treat but a choice of half a dozen or so yummy cakes and slices.  Thumbs up in a big way.  There were quirky art works everywhere, and big squishy sofas to sit on.  Didn't feel like leaving.

My cousin had been to Pearl Beach before for family holidays, as her eldest sister had a holiday cottage there, so we called in there next, so she could reacquaint herself with it.

The kids enjoyed playing with the frizbee on the beach for a bit before we headed home.  They managed to send it into the surf, and it was just too far out for them to retrieve it.  The brave man took off his shoes to wade into the very cold water, so the day was saved.  It is a very pretty place.

After dinner each night we have played antique games. 

This one is a travel game which is well over 50 years old, and went down really well with the kids.  You buy tickets to travel to various countries, exchange currency and buy souvenirs.  Sounds simple but it isn't as there are many and varied obstacles.  Besides this we have had the Scrabble out, also about 50 years old, and UNO, the baby at 35 years old.  LOL.  The boxes are torn but it doesn't detract from the fun we've had!

That's all for now.  Part 2 in a day or two.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

More Aussie Heroes Stuff

Earlier this month we went on a visit to the RAAF Base at Richmond.  I told you all about that here.
One of the things we were asked to do in preparation for the day was that each participant had to bring a laundry bag.  Since the Dearly Beloved came with me on that day, I had to make 2 bags to take.  The theme was either Australiana or RAAF.  Since my mind was a total blank with regards to an RAAF design, I chose Australiana.

This one was personalised, and was for one of the ladies who helped organise the day for us.
And this one just had a patch on it for the recipient to write his/her name.
I was on a roll with the bags, and cut out two more at the same time.  I find it is easier to make a batch of bags once you get into the mood to do them.  Having done that, Jan-Maree gave me some names, so I appliqued the initials onto the patch and posted these two off direct to the recipients.

Aren't the skulls fun??
Last but not least, I got "She's Apples" quilted and bound, and sent that off to my recipient.  Hope he likes it.

You can't see it terribly well here, but I put a striped binding on this quilt.  Here is a detail to show you.
Amazingly the fabric was in my stash and matched the quilt perfectly.  I had issues with that binding!  I made it using the continuous bias method where you sew up a tube & cut it on the bias.  Well something went wrong with my calcs, and there wasn't enough by a long shot, so half way through putting it on, I had to stop and make more.  Not sure if it is the formula I sued or my maths.  Will have to make it again and see if I get the maths right next time.
Remember a while back I told you about a day at Jan-Maree's when Robin and I put together the pink elephants?  Well Robin took the top home, quilted it and brought it to Stitching Hearts last time we me t to show me the finished quilt.

Isn't it fabulous??  I just love it.  Anyway Robin also made a laundry bag to go with it.  Very hard to see in this photo, but there are a couple of elephants on the bag as well.

So these have also gone off now.  Hope she likes it. 
That's it for now.  I have my cousin coming up from Melbourne with her two kids this afternoon.  They will be staying for a few days as it is school holidays.  Gorgeous day predicted today but foul weather tomorrow.  What a shame - they were hoping for some beach time.

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

Sunday, 21 September 2014

On the Way to Forster

We have come up to Forster to play bridge in the Great Lakes Congress here this weekend.  Forster is about 3.5 hours north of where we live, so it isn't too far to come for a weekend.  We decided not to beat ourselves up, and have driven up at a leisurely pace; we will play in the teams tomorrow.

We stopped for lunch at Bulahdelah (pronounced Boo-lah-dee-lah).  In years gone by the road through that part of the world was torturous with a stiff uphill climb on a narrow road with many hairpin bends.  Today it is a breeze, with the highway by-passing the little town, 2 lanes in both directions, and cars whizzing past at 110km.

The milk bar in the town had gluten free bread, so I had a good old fashioned burger on GF bread.  There is a nice little park in the middle of the town where we took our lunch.

On the way to the table, I nearly stepped on a gorgeous bird I had never previously seen.  It flew off, but I was able to get a photo of it when it landed on the roof of a nearby shelter.  Isn't he beautiful!  I will have to wait until I get home to check my bird book to find out what he is.

I took some knitting to do in the car.  A couple of weeks ago, my daughter came by with a half completed scarf and gave it to me, saying she couldn't be bothered finishing it as she wasn't likely to wear it.  Have you seen this type of wool before?

You separate the strands into this gorgeous lacy "stuff" then pick up the top edge to knit it.

And you end up with a wonderful lacy, frothy scarf.

I first saw this type of wool in England at the National Quilt Championships in 2011.  It is made in Portugal.  I was so excited that I brought home a ball of it, and then my daughter wanted some too.  So I tracked down a supplier in Melbourne and bought a couple of balls, one for her and one to give a friend as a gift.  So now this one has come back to me.  I love the colour of this ball, and will enjoy wearing the completed scarf.
Tonight we had a lovely meal in a Mexican restaurant not far from here with our team mates for tomorrow.  Looking forward to a game of bridge tomorrow.
Update:  I had intended to post this on Saturday night, but the Wifi in the hotel was so slow that it kept dropping out.  So am doing it tonight after we have returned home.  We came 4th by a whisker.  Never mind, there is always next time.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

RAAF Richmond

On the 4th September, I was lucky enough to be one of the people included in a visit to the RAAF base at Richmond.  I can't show you any photos of the day, because photography was not allowed.  We did have an official photographer with us for the whole day, but those photos are yet to be released.

It all began some months ago, when one of the people stationed at the Air Base came to pick up an Aussie Heroes quilt from Jan-Maree.  She went back to base, and suggested to her commanding officer that the people of AHQ should be thanked for what they have done for the troops.  The ball kept rolling to the top and gathered speed and enthusiasm and so the day was planned.

It was a very early start for me as it is a good 2 hour drive to Richmond from here.  About 40 of us gathered at 8.30am in the car park where we were given security passes and then boarded a couple of buses, there to ferry us around all day, each with a lovely driver and an escort too. 

After morning tea and an introductory chat & video in the air field's departure lounge, we got to visit the 1st Combat Communications unit.  That was interesting seeing the radio, satellite and computer equipment used for the communications.  There was a truck there all set up with comms equipment and a satellite dish on its roof which I enjoyed seeing.  I guess it has to travel by air, all set up like that, when it is deployed.  An interesting thought. 

As we were listening to the presentation, I noticed that people in uniform were coming into the area, and at the conclusion of the talk, I turned around to see what was going on.  I was impressed to see all the guys and girls who work in that area had come in to meet us, and there were dozens of them.  It was lovely meeting a few of them and having a chat.

Next stop was to what has got to be an old Mess room, where we were to have lunch.  During a lovely b-b-q lunch the Warrant Officer came to visit us and gave a very nice speech about how our quilts make a huge difference to the morale of the troops.  We were all given a goodie bag full of all sorts of interesting things, and a military coin as well.  That was so unexpected!  Here’s me wanting to thank the RAAFies for their hospitality and for showing me their way of life, and they were giving me presents!  The little teddy bear dressed as a pilot is now sitting as proud as can be on my bed with my other special toys (I forget sometimes that I am an adult.  LOL)

Then we got to visit the Fire Section and climb all over a bright and shiny red fire engine.  That was good fun.  I had never been that close to a fire truck before, let alone such a bright shiny new one, so it was interesting poking around and discovering how all the equipment is used, but you wouldn’t make a fashion statement by wearing that fire gear!  LOL.  All the equipment on the truck was very hi tech, but there is no substitute for the huge manually operated tool which the Firey called the Jaws of Life, and which are used to prise people out of mangled cars.  Those guys really do need that gym attached to their section.  I don’t think I could have lifted that thing, let alone used it.  To top off the fun a couple of ladies got a ride on one of the trucks, which proceeded to do a demo of it's siren and the hose to the rest of us.  Thankfully far enough away that we weren't drenched by the stream of water.

Next stop was the dogs section.  For me, that was quite intimidating, as the dogs are trained to attack and they sure tried to do that.  I was dead pleased they were behind a strong chain fence!  One of the handlers took his dog into a run to show us some of the training it had done, and besides jumping over things, and heeling on command etc., he showed us how the dog attacks on command.  The poor girl who was the assistant handler nearly got knocked over when the dog lunged at her.  If she had not worn protective gear, she would have really been seriously injured.  A very brave soul indeed.  It was quite awesome to see the dog switch instantly from savage attack mode to passive obedience and return to the handler instantly he was commanded, and then the obvious affection which the dog and handler shared.

Our last visit was to the 37 Squadron, where they had a Hercules to show us.  Now most of the troops would have flown on one of those, and would not share my enthusiasm, but I thought it was great fun to clamber all over it, get in the cockpit and sit in the pilot's seat.  There was a great view through the front, and the dials!  There were so many of them!

In each location we were shown,  the personnel had hung their own quilts and laundry bags.  It was very special to see them, and doubly so when more than one of the recipients found the quilter who had made his/her quilt.  Also special was the lovely lass who walked around the entire time she was with us, with her quilt wrapped around her.  Another highlight was when I asked the Firey who proudly showed us his truck whether he had received a quilt.   His whole face lit up, the grin from ear to ear split his face:  "Oh yes!  I got mine in Dubai.  Its in the back of the car here with me now."

At the end of the day, we gathered again in the departure lounge.  It was at this point that the people who had made the day happen and worked so hard to entertain us were given a special laundry bag as a thank you.  An additional special end to the day was seeing a plane load of troops come in from deployment.  We clapped each one on their way through the door.  The surprise was that despite being exhausted from the flight, they had gathered at the rear of the lounge and clapped US out the door as we left! 

Everywhere we went, we had service men & women come out to meet us, and it made the tour more personal.  It really was lovely to chat to a few of them.  And everywhere we went we heard how much our quilts and laundry bags were appreciated.  I did know that, but somehow the visit showed me just how much it meant to someone on deployment, to receive a box.  The visit really re-enforced in my mind the reasons I sew for AHQ.  You beaver away behind a sewing machine week after week, send off the things you make into the great unknown, and often there is no email or letter of thanks.  That is OK with me, but the day truly showed me that the time I spend making the quilts and bags is most appreciated, and the quilts are truly treasured. 
If you are interested, Jan-Maree has posted a couple of posts with other people's impressions of the day here and here.  Jan-Maree has had access to a few photos, which you can see on those posts.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Oranges, not Lemons

The month of September is the month for orange scraps in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, so its time to reveal the first of my orange blocks. 
Ta da!! 2 x Jacobs ladder blocks
Gee I'm glad I decided to make Jacobs Ladder blocks for this challenge.  I chose them because I had never made them before and I thought it would be a great block to do.  Love them. 
Have to say a huge thank you to all my lovely friends who dug deep and pulled out some scraps to give me.  I would have struggled otherwise, as I did not have one single piece of orange fabric in my cupboard at the start of the year.
Now you have seen what I have done, why not go to SoScrappy to take a look at all the other orange goodies created this past week.

In our area all the churches (well most of them I think) and lots of the schools support a program called Operation Christmas Child.  You are given a box the size of a shoebox and you are asked to fill it with stuff for a child.  The boxes are distributed to children in need in in many countries overseas.  I have filled 2 boxes and handed them into my church already. 

Miss 8's school participates in this program, and last week her teacher asked if any mothers or grand mothers would be prepared to sew some drawstring bags to include in the boxes put together by the students at the school.  Miss 8, bless her, volunteered me.  Here is what I managed to put together in the last few days.

28 drawstring bags, waiting for the string, all shapes & sizes depending on the amount of fabric at hand.  Most of it is not fabric I would use, so good to see it is not being thrown out.  I have pulled some more fabric & its waiting to be cut, and will make some more bags if I get a chance in the next few days.
I'd like to share with you my new baby.  It is a Romley treadle, made about 1925 in a lovely cabinet which I bought on EBay and picked up last Saturday. 

She is minus a belt, but all the workings look to be functioning correctly, and the treadle works very smoothly.  I had not heard of a Romley before.  They were made by the National Sewing Machine Co. in Bellvedere, IL, and from what I can gather the firm specialised in making badged machines for retailers.  If you know otherwise, please let me know.  I have her partially dismantled at the moment to clean her.  Isn't she pretty?  Gorgeous decals.

She has come to join my Singer 99k which I have had about 18 months now, and which my daughter found in the local op shop.

That's me for tonight, so....
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Playing Catch Up

The colour of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is Orange, but I am so far behind that this last week I tried to catch up.

First up I made 2 x red Jacobs Ladder blocks.  Red was the colour for July.  I am now all done with the reds.

I was trying to be tricky with these and made the left hand block in maroons and claret colours, and the one on the right with the bright reds.  But with the dark reds, I really didn't have enough of the lighter contrasts, so I did something I haven't done for the entire challenge - I repeated a bunch of cream fabric squares with dark red stars on them for the 4-patches.  You can see them running from bottom left to top right. 
On a roll, I kept on with the Jacobs Ladders and made the light green ones for the month of August.
Again, I grouped the dusky light greens on the left and the brighter ones in the block on the right.  This time I managed to have every square different.
The last block I made, was the scrappy 25-patch in light green.
I think I have now caught up with all the blocks, and I will be able to move onto orange.  But before I do that, I will have to chop a lot of scraps into squares so I can use them :(
Linking up at soscrappy with this post.  Go take a look at what others have done this week.
Til next time.....Keep on stitching

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Oh My! What a week!

I knew from the outset that this week would be full on and that I would be exhausted each night and I wasn't wrong!

Monday started off with a trip to Newcastle, well Wickham actually, which is an inner Newcastle suburb, and about an hour's drive north of my house.  I went with my friend Jan, and our mission was to deliver some quilts from Stitching Hearts to the Wickham Student Accommodation facility run by the Samaritans.  I did a detailed post about that for Stitching Hearts, so please click on the link and read that post so I don't have to repeat myself here. 

On the way home, we stopped at a couple of quilt shops.  We made sure that we went that way home LOL!  Both were first time visits for me.  I had organised a shop hop for my Friday Quilters back in March, but on the day I was too sick to go, so they went on without me :(

The first shop was Zig Zag in Georgetown (no web page).  What a lovely little shop!  They have loads of notions and patterns, and THE best range of Robson Anton threads I have seen anywhere. Drool. 

The second shop was Patchwork Heart at Belmont (no web page).  Another lovely shop.  It was not large, but there were lots of nooks and crannies.  Every time you turned a corner there were more lovelies to greet the eye.

The little bundle on the left is from Zig Zag, the one on the right is from Patchwork Heart.  I had a hard time limiting my purchases to those.  You won't see them again as I will be seeing secret things with them, and I can't reveal what I have done until the gifts have been received.

I will definitely be visiting both stores again.
On the way between Wickham and Georgetown, not sure where because I was following the GPS, I rounded a corner and found this....
What a hoot!  As luck would have it, there was a car space just in front so I swooped in and leapt out to take a photo.  The two men passing by thought I was totally crackers, and even more so when I said that was my name.  LOL.  They were still chuckling half way up the road.
The really big day was Wednesday, when a group of us who sew for Aussie Heroes were invited to a day at the R.A.A.F. Base at Richmond.  I shall have to save that for another day, as my post will have to be vetted before publishing.
Thursday saw Jan and I driving down to Sydney to Stitching Hearts.  As we told the story of our day at Wickham, Robin piped up "do they need clothes?".  Her children had just been through their wardrobes, and the clothes, were in her car.  So Jan and I are planning another trip north to drop them off. 
And the big news...... Yesterday, I bought a treadle!!  I bought it on EBay, and we are off shortly to pick it up.  Long drive as its in the mountains.  More on that later.
Sooooo excited!!!
Where will I put it????  Who cares.  I'll find room for it.
Til next time.....Keep on stitching