Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Progress on this Month's Challenges.

At the end of this month, I showed you the two things I was planning to make in October, and linked into Lets Book It and NewFO links.  Both of them were to be quilts for kids at the Wickham Student Accommodation facility run by the Samaritans.

The first of these was for Susan (name changed for privacy).  And I planned to make this quilt:

I haven't got terribly far with this one.  I have cut out all the background squares for the half square triangles, and made up about half of them.  Boring pictures, so you will see the progress on that next month.

The second was for Karen (name changed for privacy), and this pattern was my inspiration.

I changed it (but of course, you all chorus.  LOL).  The pictured quilt was designed for a single bed and I needed to make a double size, so I used 3" squares for the basic 4 patches.  The resulting blocks were 9" finished once they were sashed instead of 6".  I also haven't done any applique.  I thought this quilt was busy enough without that.  And Ta Da....  I finished the top the other day.  I love it.
I have seriously depleted my stock of blue 3" squares and nudged the purple and yellow ones.  Bonus!  Initially I had sashed all the 4 patches with strips in a variety of colours (using up those 2.5" strips I had lurking in the cupboard), but I found that made the quilt too busy.  So I alternated the patterned sashing with homespun, and that has worked well, I think.  I like the yellow inner border.  It has lifted the whole quilt up.  Sadly, that is the last of that fabric - all I have left is one 2" strip.  Its been with me a long time, and has brightened a lot of quilts.
The request was for blue, with a little purple and a little yellow.  There are heaps of novelty squares.  Funky circles and odd ball patterns....

Snowflakes & stars.... (red, but who cares)

Cows and mauve flowers.....
Ooops.  A red car or two...

Yellow checks & stripes, and some little pixies....
There are also quite a few purple and mauve squares in there flung around with gay abandon. 
I'm happy with it.  I enjoyed making it, I don't enjoy some of the things I make as I so often have to make do with what is around or I finish off someone else's UFOs which aren't always to my taste.  This one is definitely in my "like it" bucket.
Now it's time for me to link up to Sharon's linky at Vrooman's Quilts, and Barbara's linky at Cat Patches to show of my efforts.  Please check out the two links and encourage the work of some of the others by visiting and leaving a nice comment.
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Goodbye "Go for Gold"

As promised its time to show you the photos of the finished "Go for Gold".  If you remember I began this quilt to commemorate the Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow in June.  The official Aussie colours are green and gold, and this quilt is packed and ready to go to an Australian serviceman currently serving in the Middle East.

I quilted it using Robison Anton 100% 50wt Cotton in "Pollen Gold" on the top, and a gold Gutterman in the bobbin.  I just did a medium meander all over.  I loved using the Robison Anton thread, but had issues with tension.  Think my machine needs to go to the doctor for a visit.  What I found happened is that I would set the tension, and it would be fine for a short while, then the tension would go haywire for a few inches, then revert to perfect again.  I unpicked masses of it and redid the quilting, but it was still not perfect in the end.  Very irritating.
I bind by hand in the evenings while watching the TV.  The other night I finished it off fairly late at night, and flung it on the couch next to my chair for the last few minutes of the program I was watching, before packing up to go to bed.  Quick as a flash, the QA Inspector was onto it, checking out the quality.  Seems to have passed muster.  LOL.  Sorry for the quality of the photo, all I had near me was my phone.

I was also asked to make a laundry bag for the chap.  This is the back view, as the front has his name appliqued to it, and as he is overseas currently, I can't show the front to you. 

The fabric has a soccer theme to it - perfectly complementary to the sporty theme of the quilt.  This also caused me grief.  As I was turning the bag right side out (it is lined) I found that I had sewn the bag upside down, so I had to reconstruct it.  Beginning to doubt my sanity!
We had a huge wind come up for about 30 minutes late yesterday afternoon, and after it abated, I wandered outside to see if there was any damage.  We live with many trees around us, and often have largish branches come down in strong wind.  I saw what looked like a thick bit of branch up near the gazebo, and headed for it, when suddenly it turned tail and ran!  It was then I realised that it was a large Eastern Water Dragon.  It scuttled into the garage, and I was able to take this photo for you.  It is hiding here under the wheelbarrow.

From the tip of his head to the end of his tail he would have been at least 2 foot long (60cm).  You can tell he is old by his size and the colour of his skin.  I think he left sometime before nightfall.  What a buzz to see him in our garden!
Finishing up today with a photo of a spectacular display of Air Fern which was growing in the front garden at my Physio's and almost completely engulfing a small shrub of Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow.

I commented on it when I went in, and neither of the two receptionists had noticed it!  LOL

Now to go and finish packing that quilt ready to post.

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

Friday, 24 October 2014

Dear Mr Postman I Love You!

This week I have had some real lovelies arrive by post, hence the title. (Maybe I shouldn't say that in front of the Dearly Beloved eh?)

First up there was a wonderfully squishy little envelope all the way from the US.  I opened it and out fell this....

I have to tell you the background to this little parcel.  About 6 weeks ago, Audrey, of Quilty Folk started the ball rolling here.  She told us about her poor mum, who had lost her whole stash (and lots more besides) in a fire, and asked if anyone "out there" would like to help her mum out.  So I jumped on the band waggon and pulled a bit of fabric I had lurking in the back of my cupboard, and posted it the following day.  I'd have sent much more, but the postage rates to the US from Australia are pretty steep, so I had to keep the package light.

And darling Audrey repaid me in spades!  Isn't she lovely?  It was totally unexpected, I must say.  But of course I shall love using it.

The second lot of lovelies turned up today.  My DB returned from the UK this morning after spending time with his mum and his two sisters.  I'd had a bit of a brainwave a few weeks ago.  A lovely lady called Cathy Daniel makes a fabulous collection of patchwork patterned home wares in the UK.  You can see the whole range at

I have been following her blog for a while, and it occurred to me that the postage to a local address in the UK would be heaps cheaper than to Australia.  So I ordered a couple of things to be delivered to DB's mother's house.  And they arrived home with him today. 

A gorgeous fine china mug with the Peace & Plenty design on it....

And a matching linen tea towel....

Aren't they absolutely fabulous??  Do go take a browse at Cathy's webpage, she has lots of other stuff there.  And tell her I sent you too.

While writing up this post, my mind brought forth a vague memory about a Postman song, so I searched for it on YouTube.  I found the song that I remembered.  It was by The Marvelettes, released in 1961 and called "Please Mr Postman".  Bit of a hoot actually - you will find it here.  Have you heard it before?  Amazing this YouTube lark.  The song was re-released in 1963 by The Beatles.

I have been listening to a few of these old songs lately.  A friend of mine keeps posting links to all sorts of old songs on Facebook and its been rather fun dredging up memories of my preteen and teenage years through the music I used to listen to. 

What is your favourite song from your teen years?  I was totally in love with Elvis so for me, it would have to be anything at all by Elvis.  But then the Beatles came along.....  My very first album was a Beatles one, which I think was called "Beatles for Sale".  I just searched for it on the net, but the album covers in Australia were different to those in the UK, so I couldn't find it.  I still have it, but it is stored away.  I also still have all my 45's.  All classed as antiques now LOL.

Til next time.....Keep on stitching

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Where Oh Where Did That Week Go?

Friday was an all day sewing day.  We do this once in a while; everyone brings a plate for lunch, and we break off for a bite to eat at midday, then its back to the fray.

Love these "bring a plate" meals.  Food always tastes great when someone else cooks it!  And my lovely friends sure looked after me.  Joyce brought a gluten free slice for me to enjoy for morning tea, and Fiona made a special little dessert, which was the same as everyone else's but gluten free.  Special friends indeed.  I could hardly waddle after that lunch.
Jan and I are making a joint quilt for Samaritans, so Friday was a great day to start it.  The request was for pink and green.  You start with 6 x 3.5" squares, so I had to cut 258 of those.  Phew!
This is my little "take with me" machine, and the pile of squares I was working with.

This is part of what we achieved.  The 3.5" squares sewn into sixes.  The next step is to sew a strip down one side.  We even had Fiona and Cheryl stepping in to piece a few of these.  Thanks ladies.

My daughter & her hubby have decided to crisis foster new borns - this is to bridge the gap between birth and permanent foster care.  They will be getting their first baby, a little one week old boy, hopefully on Monday.  So yesterday after doing some chores, I made a little squishy doll for my new little foster grandie.  I found the tutorial here at the Stumbles & Stitches blog.  
The front....

 And the back.

So cute, and so easy to make that I will be making that again and again I should think for all the babies who come into my life.  Thank you Jenny.
In the afternoon, Miss 8 came over for some special time.  She asked that we make Christmas Decorations.  As it happened I had found a great tutorial on Jenny of Stumbles & Stitches blog.
I changed it a little - intending to use sequins and beads to decorate the little ornament, I couldn't find the sequins, so we just beaded them...

And the results???  Miss 8's

And mine....

And guess what?  You are dead right.  I found the sequins after I had finished mine.  LOL.

All done, we had afternoon tea and started a jig saw.  So you know what I have been doing since, don't you?

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

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Off to Newcastle Again

Jan and I drove up to Newcastle with a boot load of donations for the Wickham Student Accommodation facility yesterday.  This was stuff which had been given me by the ladies at Stitching Hearts, and some from the ladies at Friday Quilters.

Full boot - mostly clothes for a baby girl, some adult things and lots of linen.

The back seat - More clothes, and a big laundry basket full of cleaning equipment.  Also on the floor a gift bag with baby goodies, a toy monkey, and a big pink teddy bear.

I've told you some of the stories from Wickham.  Yesterday we heard some more.  The baby was due last Friday, but Barbara had not heard, so she was guessing perhaps yesterday was The Day.  She has promised me an update and a photo when she can.  So the baby clothes were for this baby.
There is also a little 2 year old boy at the facility with his mother.  The toy monkey and some Thomas the Tank linen were for him.  I have had some boy's clothes promised, but they have not yet arrived.
The residents sometimes come straight off the street, with nothing but the clothes they wear.  They have to sign an agreement to return to studying, either complete school, or go to TAFE or uni, or get an apprenticeship.  They can stay for up to 2 years.  They are supported in their attempts to complete education and/or find a job by the Samaritans network.  But they are expected to pay their own way.  They leave with a "rent book" which shows rental history and are helped to find the bond for an apartment of their own. 
We met a young lass who had come for a visit.  She was an ex-resident, now living independently in a shared rental and working as a trainer for at risk youth.  She is getting her life together, and learning to stand on her own feet.  Such an inspirational story.  She showed us some photos of cupcakes she has decorated.  They are first class, and we all said she should pursue that as a money making venture.
The last few days I have put together some more drawstring bags for the Operation Christmas Child boxes.  You might remember that my darling Miss 8 volunteered me to make a few for her school.  Well I got a bit carried away, and the total to date is 108.  This lot is the second batch and they are waiting to have their cord threaded.  Not my job!!
I am done with that task now I think.  Managed to off load such a lot of fabric that was just "too good to throw away", but I would never have used otherwise. 
I have put the greedy Tibby onto a diet.  She was demanding food every time I went into the kitchen, and I would sometimes give in to her incessant pleas.  So these days it a strict regime of food morning and night, with a treat whenever I call her (to ensure she comes when I call - it works!).  But oh woe!  The big, pleading, green eyes!  The pitiful meowing!  We have even discovered that we can climb into the shelf in the pantry where the tins of food are kept.  And I am waiting for her to learn how to open the tins.  LOL.  I am being strong, and she IS losing weight.  When the twice a day regime is accepted and in place, I will reduce the quantity of food at each meal to a reasonable level, so we are in for more fun & games I guess.

I finished quilting Go For Gold, and I have a recipient's name.  So today I made a label and the binding.  The grand plan is to get the binding on tomorrow.  Then I need to make a laundry bag for the chap.  Photos 'ron.

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

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Cousins Part 2

While the cousins were here, I took them to the Reptile Park at Somersby, about 1/2 hour's drive from our place.  Although it is called the Reptile Park, there is heaps to see, not just the creepies.

Just inside the entrance are the reptiles.  All of them were behind glass, so my photos aren't the best.

Green Tree Snake (a more lime green in real life)

Parentie.  Looks terribly prehistoric to me.

The next display was the spiders.  I'll spare you those photos as it was too dark to take them.  If you are there at the right time, you can watch the keepers milking the venomous spiders for their venom.  It is then shipped to be transformed to anti-venom.  The centre is a major collector of venom.
Outside, near the picnic area there is an area in which people and animals wander freely.  This is a small kangaroo.  They are very tame, and you can buy a packet of special 'roo food at the entrance (we didn't).  The kids enjoyed being up close & personal. 


Rock Wallaby - endangered in many areas.

Then we headed to the crocodile feeding display.  The keeper taunted the croc until he stood up for his chicken.

Just look at those teeth!  The way the snapped when the croc took the food was awesome.  It would easy bite you in half I should think.

An Echidna.  You see these sometimes on the side of the road when you are out in the bush.  I rather like them.  They sort of look vulnerable to me, despite the spines on their backs.  They primarily eat ants and other bugs.

This is a Tawny Frogmouth Owl.  He was quietly sitting on one of the lower rungs of a fence within one of the aviaries.  Public on one side, birds on the other.  He was quite happy for me to come up and take his photo.  This has not been zoomed - I am about a metre from him. Tawny Frogmouths are fairly common in urban areas.

Then we went to see the koalas being fed.  Quite a few in the enclosure, quietly sleeping, until the keeper came along trundling a barrow of leaves.  All without fail woke up and started moving towards the food.  All the females seemed to have babies.  Can you see this one peeking over mum's right shoulder?  When mum started scampering towards the food, the baby wriggled around onto her back and hung on for grim death.

Tucking into the tender, juicy end bits.

This is a wombat.  Remember me telling you that I found scats and a burrow here?  Well this is what lives in those burrows.  You see them by the roadside out west as well, often as road kill sadly, as they are very slow movers.

Anyway, this one was very friendly and wanted to come over to say hello.

So lucky to have the Reptile Park so close by.  Doesn't matter how many times I go, I find it interesting.
The following morning was the last day of their stay.  We took them off to Avoca Beach to briefly show off our beautiful coastline, before taking them to the station.  It was an absolutely glorious day.
And the kids did what kids do when mixed with sand and surf.

Beat the waves this time, but still managed to get themselves wet to the waist.  LOL

Hope you have enjoyed the cousins' stay as much as I did. 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Quilting "Green Beans Please"

Over the last few days I have quilted "Green Beans Please".  Remember me telling you about it when I was making it, here and here?
This is what it looks like at the moment.  I have put a purple binding on it which matches the purple on that first border and took it to Stitching Hearts on Thursday as it is.  There are several ladies who love to do the hand stitching on binding, so who am I to deprive them of that pleasure?  LOL.
I began by stabilizing all the blocks by stitching in the ditch around the squares and each side of the purple border.  I used a variegated green/sage thread by Signature.  My machine is happy using that thread.
I then used the template I had used to cut the applique flowers, and drew around it on each of the green plaid squares.  For that job I used my Frixion pen.  Works a treat!  Then I FMQ'd the design using the same Signature thread I had used for the ditch stitching.

Next I used a white Robison Anton rayon thread to FMQ around the purple appliqued flowers.  As an aside, I found the largest range of Robison Anton thread I've seen anywhere, at a place in Georgetown, Newcastle, called Zig Zag (no website) when I went up to deliver the first batch of quilts to Samaritans.  Georgetown is not far from Wickham. 
This is where the fun started.  I had a Mettler all purpose thread in the bobbin throughout, and so at all times there was a different thread in the top to the bottom, but in the green sections it didn't matter too much if the tension was a bit off because it wasn't all that visible.  By the time I was quilting on the white sections though I was in real trouble.  No matter what I did, I couldn't set the tension.  It would be OK for a few inches, then it would loose the tension for a short time, then revert back to OK, and so on.  So, so visible when I was using the white thread on white fabric.
I rang my local techo who said it was likely to be some thread or fluff around the bobbin area.  Lucky for me, the machine righted itself when I gave it a good clean.  I had cleaned and oiled the machine just before starting the FMQ so had not anticipated that this might be the cause of my woes.
Next was the border.  I used a favourite inspirations book of mine called "Machine Quilting Solutions" by Christine Maraccini to free motion quilt a continuous spike leaf pattern.  This was the first time I have used this pattern, I generally do my leaves a different shape.  Bit hard to see the variegated thread on the fabric, but that was the intention.  LOL.
I wasn't overly happy with it at first.  My leaves were erratic - some small, some large, some skinny, some fat; every single one was different.  Then I thought to myself, "Hey, leaves are all different in nature, even those from the same tree", and I calmed down.  Looks fine from a distance.
So that's done and dusted. 
Today is a public holiday here in NSW, so after a bit of housework (dirty word!!) I went over to my daughter's.  She and her family have been away most of the school holidays, so it was catch up time.  The kids & I started on a jigsaw.  
It is a very busy picture, of dozens of postcards from all over the USA.  Not difficult but you do have to check each piece of the puzzle to see where you need to put it.
This afternoon I started quilting Go for Gold.  Just doing a lazy meander all over.
I have been learning how to use Instagram, and this was the photo I used as my test photo to upload.  I took the photo on my tablet, then I managed to load it to IG without a hitch.  But now I can't seem to load IG itself onto my phone.  Maybe I should ask the kids? LOL  They were the ones to show me how to fix my settings on IG in the first place.  I want it on my phone as I take way more photos with the phone than the tablet.  Would also be good to access IG from my laptop..... Hmmm.  A bit more tweaking necessary there I think.
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

October Challenge Links

This week I have started not one, but two new projects, so I shall be linking up to the NewFO link party that Barbara runs at Cat Patches.
2014 NewFO Challenge
The idea is that you start a new project, and never mind if it isn't finished.  Sounds right up my alley doesn't it?  LOL. 
As both of the projects I am planning are from books, they also fit nicely with the Lets Book It Challenge which Sharon runs each month at Vrooman's Quilts
Lets Book It
The idea here is that you choose one of the books on your bookshelf, get the dust off it, and make a project from the book.
Both of these projects I will be making for the Samaritans.  If you have read my previous posts, you will know that my Stitching Hearts group are supporting an organisation called the Wickham Student Accommodation facility (in Wickham, a suburb of Newcastle), run by the Samaritans.  We have been asked to provide 5 quilts for some of the residents.  I shall be making 2 of them. 
The first is for Susan (name changed to protect her privacy).  The request is for a queen sized quilt in shades of turquoise/teal and earthy colours.  I have met this girl; she is a gorgeous bubbly girl - and she had turquoise hair!!  Do you think she might like turquoise??
I found this pattern on the front cover of the current edition of the magazine put out by a chain of craft/homewares stores called Spotlight.  I thought it would be perfect for Susan.
On Monday I found some fabric.  So lucky; first fabric purchasing foray and I got what I wanted for the background! (colours haven't photographed well, they are really quite vibrant)
I am planning to make the large 12.5" HSTs which form the background of this quilt out of these two turquoise fabrics.  I should be able to place these HSTs into an interesting pattern of their own. The circles I will make from a mix of tan/brown strips with a splash of turquoise and green for interest.  I should be able to find adequate supplies of those in my stash (and use some of my stash of strips!!).
The second quilt is for Karen (name also changed for privacy).  It will be double sized, and she has asked for blues with splashes of purples and yellows.  I've met Karen too, a lovely, vivacious girl - she was wearing blue. 
I found this pattern in a magazine I have borrowed from my friend Jan. Country Patchwork & Craft, Vol.2 No.4, pattern by Annette Blake.  No date on it, but it looks quite old.

This is a simple sashed 4-patch which will lend itself quite nicely to the intended colour scheme.  I have absolutely hundreds of blue 3" squares and nearly as many yellow and purple.  Besides that I have heaps of 2.5" strips as well.  So that is what I plan to use.  Using this size, makes up a 9" finished block.
I am not sure if I will be doing the applique on the border - we shall see.  I have started on the 4-patches and have made up about 20 of the 4-patches I will need.  Some will be all blue, some blue/yellow, some blue/purple, and then a couple of all yellow, and all purple.  I think I will sash most of them in blue, but will wing it as I make it.

Keep watching this space in the next few weeks to see how I go.  And in the mean time, why not go take a look at what others are making?  Just click on  the little buttons at the beginning of this post, or the links underlined.

Til next time.....Keep on stitching