Sunday, 30 March 2014

Last week of Teal

I managed to finish off the last of the teal Road to Oklahoma blocks today for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge at SoScrappy.   The link for that is here.  How about going over to see what everyone else has been up to?  The colour for April is yet to be announced.  Rats!!  The anticipation is killing me.

I have decided I LOVE teal.  Why haven't I/don't I use more of that colour range??  So I shall have to rectify that.  Here are my 8 RtO blocks:

 
Its a great block, and I love the star pattern which emerges when you lay the blocks out in this way.  When I mentioned that one Friday morning a couple of weeks ago, Fiona said she hadn't seen the stars - just the squares.  Well I had to peer very closely to see those squares, and if I don't concentrate on them, the stars reappear.  What do your eyes see in the secondary design?  Stars or squares, or something else I haven't seen? 
 
In my last teal post, I was talking about the dresses I made for my 3 grand daughters.  Your mind truly does play some tricks on you.  I was convinced I had made the dresses about 4 maybe 5 years ago, and couldn't find that photo to show you.  Then by accident I found the photo a day or so ago - I made them for Christmas of 2006!  And that is over 7 years ago.  Here are the two eldest, twirling in our family room.  Both of them a whole lot bigger now LOL

 
Last weekend I also showed you my crochet project.  I have begun the two new extra blocks from scratch.  I was going to try this "magic ring" from a tutorial on YouTube but got in a total muddle, so took it apart and just started with a chain.

 
Sometimes on Wednesday mornings, I manage to get to the craft group run by my friend Joyce at church.  This week when I got there, I found they were learning to do the crochet tops for towels.  So pleased to have learnt how to do those towel tops; I use them all the time.  I've got mine finished with the button sewn on last night, and hung it in the kitchen to use.

 
Many years ago, while poking around in an antique shop in Carcoar, which was more like a second hand junk shop than anything else, I spotted a huge jar of used buttons.  I bought it as it was dirt cheap.  I gave half the buttons to my daughter, but there are still heaps.  I rat through every time I find I need a button, and there is usually something there which suits. 
 
I am going to have to give the crochet a rest now for a while though as my hands are whinging badly.  If I leave it for a week or so, I might be able to get back to it to finish that blanket off.
 
It does mean that this afternoon I will have to go find something to work on in front of the TV for the next week or so.  Perhaps I should go back to that cross stitch and make some progress on that.  It was sending me cross eyed there for a while, but I have had a break from it now.

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

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Lets Book It February/March

Earlier this year I decided to join in with Sharon's "Lets Book It" challenge.

 
The idea is that you select a book from your shelf and make something from it.  Doable I thought.  My February project has become my March project, and will end up the April project LOL.  NOT do-able this time at all!
 
I showed you my plans here.  And just to refresh your memory, this is what I am making.
 
 
I am using a bunch of 3" green squares for the 16-patches.  They are all made, and I have put together some of the sashing strips with the star points.
 
This morning I thought I should lay out the bits which I have already constructed to see where I am at, and what still needs to be done.  Here it is as it currently stands.
 
 
As you can see, there are still a few sashing pieces which need to be constructed, and none of it is stitched together, so there's a ways to go yet.  The colours in the photo don't do this quilt top justice.  The yellow is a real jewel colour, and the greens are not as drab as they appear here. 
 
Working with the yellow fabric reminded me of one of the ladies I used to sew with about 10 years ago, an ex-pat American lady called Kay.  We were making a charity quilt as a group, and she stood there one day and said "You know that quilt needs some yellow".  The following week she arrived with a huge chunk of this fabric - meters and meters of it.  So we did use a bit, but then all of a sudden she left Australia to go back home, and left her fabric behind.  I have used it on several occasions in quilts for Stitching Hearts, at least once for backing.  Getting to the end of it now.  Thank you Kay, wherever you are.  You were very generous with that fabric, and I do appreciate it!
 
So to finish off, here is a close up of the top.
 
 
This afternoon I am making rod pockets, labels and carry bags for my quilt which I will be exhibiting at the Central Coast Quilt Show.  Miss 8 has entered her rainbow quilt as well, so I am making them for her as well.  Oh!  And there's binding to make for mine as well.
 
Linking this up to the Lets Book It party here.  Do take the time to go visit a few of the talented ladies.
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching

Friday, 28 March 2014

Tibouchinas

In October 2008, I lost my cat Felix.  She wasn't a lovely cat actually, she was hyper-thyroidal, obsessive and neurotic, and worst of all, she peed absolutely everywhere - part of her nerves I was told.  I tried to love her, but it was hard.  When she died, I decided to give felines a bit of a break.  But in March the following year, I had a phone call from my daughter which went something like this:

"What are you doing on Saturday Mum?"
"Ummm, nothing I think, why?"
"I am taking you to the cat rescue place to get you a kitten"
"But, but, but....."

So Saturday rolled up and we set off with the three girls in the back, then aged 3, 5 & 8.  Poor Miss 8 squeezed in between two car seats in the back, and the cat cage in amongst all the feet.

The cat rescue place was about 45 minutes away, and really well set up.  There must have been at least 30 kittens there, black, white, brindled, every mix of every colour. 




Having had a dozen or so thrust at me in quick succession, I really didn't have much choice.  A teeny little grey & white kitty decided she was snuggling up to me and not letting go - she had made her decision.....



 
And so we piled into the car for the return journey.  The conversation was almost entirely made up of what to name the new kitty. Lots of names were bandied around, and everyone had their own opinion.  I think from memory I wanted to call her Rosie.  Almost home, and a tiny voice piped up from the back seat "Tibouchina", and again a minute or so later.  Miss 3 was actually pointing out the lovely purple trees which were blooming in profusion on the side of the road.
 
My daughter and I looked at each other and sang out "Tibby", in unison, and that is what Tibby has been ever since. 
 
And now you know how this story fits with the post heading.  Had you wondering didn't I?

March in and around where I am, is the month of luxurious splashes of wonderful purple - ranging from trees, through shrubs down to ground covers.  These are Tibouchinas, and you can read a bit about them here if you are interested.  If you Google, you will find loads of wonderful images.

 
This is across the road from my house.  It was a pathetic straggly thing last year, and my neighbour had given it a serious hair cut.  Just look at it now.  Absolutely splendid.


 
And this one is down our street a couple of houses.  Mine is tiny.  It has been in for a few years, but had a huge set back a year or so ago in the dry weather and almost died.  There are almost no flowers on it.  Hence the photos of the neighbours shrubs.  I also have a ground cover which is out at the moment, which is flowering nicely.
 
 

So, Til next time.....Keep on stitching

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

More Happy Mail

Yesterday I received another box of goodies, quite unexpectedly, from my friend Catherine.  She and her family are returning to London after several years in Hong Kong.  Here is what arrived:
 
 
A serious pile of Christmas fabrics!
 
 
A sweet little Christmas kit, and a whole stack of HSTs in gorgeous 1920s reproduction fabrics.  There are enough of those to make something decent.  The Christmas fabrics I will use later in the year.  Hopefully Cheryll will run another Santa Swap, so they will be useful then.
 
The last time I posted about Happy Mail on my blog, one of my followers, M.K. who has a sweet blog here, left me a comment saying:
"Dasha, you must have "Will Adopt Orphaned Fabric" written on your forehead :) "
I broke up laughing when I read that!  I think there must also be a sign with neon lights outside my house with words to that effect.
 
It does get used though, and what I can't use I take down to Cabarita for the girls at Stitching Hearts.  Sometimes I channel stuff I can't use to my friend Di who runs a class at the local women's shelter as well.  I will probably share some of this Christmas fabric with Di.
 
Also yesterday, I finished off 3 laundry bags for Aussie Heroes.  I had hoped to be well enough to go down tomorrow to a sewing day for Aussie Heroes, but the thought of the drive to Sydney made me realise it would be too much.  So I will probably just post them off myself.

 
The label on the front is for the serviceman's name for identification.  Sometimes I am given the actual name of the person receiving the laundry bag, in which case I applique a set of initials.  This lot will just go for general distribution, so they get a plain label.  Here is a close up of the fabrics I used.

 
The middle one I bought from Lincraft recently, the other two came to me via Jackie, a Stitching Hearts lady who works at Achieve, a craft op shop.  She has passed on lots of fabrics which are not saleable in the shop, generally because the pieces are too small.  My personal favourites are the little Scotty dogs.  Aren't they cute?  I love their tiny little red tongues.
 
This afternoon I thought I had better get a wriggle on and make some progress on the Threads of Memory block for February.  This block is called Mercer County Star.  The March one is due for release on Saturday.  So I cut it all out, and began piecing it.

 
I have carried over two of the fabrics I used for the previous block - the pink and the stripe in the centre star.  The rest are new fabrics.
 
 
That centre star has 17 pieces, and it finished at 4.5" square!  Some of those bits are pretty small, much smaller than I am used to sewing.  Somehow I managed to make it and not lose any points.  Wow.  But I do confess that I did some reverse sewing LOL.  I love this block, and am looking forward to seeing what it looks like completed.
 
Something else I dragged out this week is a quilt I made for my eldest grand daughter, about 11 years ago.  Their cat Stella managed to chew a hole clean through the quilt!
 
 
I have had this quilt for a while, and the thought of fixing it freaked me a bit.  When I pulled it out of the cupboard during the week, I looked at that hole and wondered why I had made such a big thing out of it.  I have found some of the original backing fabric, and I am planning to do a Broderie Perse applique of a little squirrel on the front of it, and a simple square on the back.  I don't have any of the fabric in the original block left of course.  The block is a Noah's Ark scene, so the squirrel will sort of fit, and the colours are OK.  I would have preferred a chicken, but the fabrics I had were all wrong for the block.  I will have to quilt over it somehow to anchor the repair.
 
I have sent off an entry form to the Central Coast Quilt show.  I am planning to exhibit my "Summer Evening in a Garden Maze".  Just fretting slightly that the quilt isn't back yet from the quilter.  Jenny does know I want to show it, so I just have to trust in her.
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Slow Stitching Sunday

Today being Sunday, it is the linkup to Slow Stitching Sunday at Kathy's Quilts.  So here is what I will be doing tonight.

A few days ago, I pulled out an exceedingly old project.  Back in something like the mid 1990s, one of the ladies in the sewing group I used to go to back then brought in a bunch of granny squares she had begun & never finished. (Thanks Maggie.  Where are you these days?)

 
There were 14 of them, and they were just the first 3 rounds you can see in the photo above.
 
I had them for a long time before I got around to doing much with them, and then I had to set them aside still unfinished because I found that I couldn't crochet any more because my hands hurt too much.  This is what they look like now.
 

I have all 14 built up to the black round on the outer perimeter; 2 sets of 4 are crocheted together into a larger square as above, and the rest are loose. 

I am planning to make 2 more new ones to bring the total number to 16 so that I can set it 4 x 4.  This is going to be fun, as I actually don't know how to start something like this off.  I did some trawling today and found a tutorial on how to get going, so shall have to rely on that.  None of the original wool of course, so I will have to scratch around to find something that works.  Once these extra 2 are made and its all crocheted together, I will take stock and see if I need to make it much bigger.

I am hoping my hands hold out.  If not I will do it in dribs and drabs.  But it is time this project was finished.

Wish me luck!

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

Catching Up on Teal

Despite still not being well enough to do much, I managed to snatch little bits of time here and there at my machine, and earlier this week I put together the two Jacob's Ladder blocks I am doing for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.
 
 
 
These two blocks have scraps from several different projects.  See that pink/turquoise floral top left hand corner?  That and two of it's mates, a little self stripe with the floral and turquoise and a pink spot on turquoise went into a trio of dresses for my 3 grand daughters one Christmas about 3 or 4 years ago.  The dresses co-ordinated, but were not the same, and I know I have a photo somewhere of the three of them in the dresses dancing, with hair flying.  Can I put my hands on that photo when I need it?  Of course not!  If I find it soon, I'll post it for you.  I know I have used some of the scraps from "Fancy That" in the teal blocks I have already made, and also from the much earlier baby quilt.

 
 
Yesterday afternoon, I put together 2 of the 8 "Road to Oklahoma" blocks I need.  Laid out this way, I was struck by how similar they are to the "Jacobs Ladder" blocks in the previous photo.  When there are only two blocks, you don't get that fabulous star shaped secondary design going on in the corners.

I am so loving the structure of a colour a month!  Thank you Angela for organising this challenge.

I also wanted to share what my lovely friend Jan has made me.  It is called a Biscornu (anyone French out there who can pronounce that??) and there is a long story involved.

Back in January I joined the Grow Your Blog link - I have talked about that a few times, and the link is on the right hand bar.  One of the 200 or so blogs I visited, had some photos of these on it.  I'm sorry, but I didn't take a note of who it was :-(  Anyway, to cut a long story short I Googled for photos, then suggested Jan do the same, as this is so utterly up her alley.  And I was right.  She was very excited to tell me that she had a book on her mail order catalogue which described them.

The rest is history......


 
Gorgeous embroidery, with single thread DMC, in leafy green, with tiny gold bead embelishments and one of the outer lines of threads used is a variegated green/blue/gold thread which shimmers and shines as you move the Biscornu and it catches the light.  Absolutely stunning.  Thank you Jan.

 
They are meant to be pin cushions, but I can't see myself sticking pins into this lovely thing, can you?
 
Linking up a bit late with the RSC link at Soscrappy today.  Lots of links there already - go take a look at some of the other creative things made.
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.


Thursday, 20 March 2014

"Fancy That"

In the absence of much sewing being done this week, I thought I would fill you in on a quilt I made in 2012, and called "Fancy That".

In January I participated in the Grow Your Blog link up.  If you haven't had a chance to go take a look, it is a fun thing to do and still open to visits.  For that I had to put together a post about myself, which you can find here if you haven't seen it before and are interested.  I put together a bunch of photos to show a bit about my life, and one of those was this one....

 
My little fur baby, Tibby, on a quilt I was quilting.  I had a couple of people ask me about this quilt, so today I thought I would tell you about it.  Unfortunately, not many photos as it was pre blogging days (*grin).
 
Some time in early December or so in 2012, I wandered into a new shop which had opened in Narara, not far from me, called Frankenstien's Fabrics.  It has since closed and is now just an on-line business.  Wandering around, I found the odd bods shelf, which had a stock of precut pieces in odd sizes at a very reasonable price, and I picked up a swatch of fabrics maybe 6-8 pieces, all co-ordinated.  Surprisingly, they were way out of my normal colour range, but they looked pretty good together, so I snaffled them. 

I got them home and pondered a while.  Ratting through my stash, I found a few more odd bits - some from a quilt I made for my baby grand daughter about 3 years before, some I had used in a baby quilt about 10 years ago.  And then I came across a pattern in the Get Creative magazine put out by Spotlight.  If you are interested, you can still find the pattern here.  The pattern was absolutely spot on perfect for the fabrics I had.  Now who should I make it for??

I decided to make the quilt for my cousin's daughter, Miss N, who is aged between my two eldest grand daughters and is a great mate of both.

I used my Tri Rex rulers, which don't come out very often and pieced the blocks in no time at all (no photos of WIP, sorry).

And then it was to the quilting:


I don't usually take my big machine to Friday Quilters - its too big and heavy, but I really wanted to quilt that quilt, minus Tibby!

Close up of one of the blocks....

 
You can see the piecing in that, and also the quilting design.  I was really happy with that quilting.  I used a stencil I'd had for years to draw on the design, and it seemed to work out well.
 
And the detail on the back....

 
I had the backing in stash.  A while earlier I had gone to a warehouse sale, and picked up about 10 meters of this fabric for peanuts, so I was pleased to use some of it.
 
The blocks were sashed with white and outlined with a stitch in the ditch..

 
And here it is in all it's glory.  Photo taken out in the garden.

 
The quilt was actually completed in Dec 2012, but I did not give it to Miss N until her birthday.  She has a brother, and I just did not want to give it at Christmas and not have one for him.  I actually have his, ready and waiting to be quilted, so hopefully I will have it done for his birthday this year.
 
It was unnamed for ages, and at the last minute I decided on "Fancy That".  It was apt because fancy me buying that fabric in the first place - way out of comfort zone for me, but it all worked out in the end.

Til next time.....Keep on stitching

Edited to add a link to: I Quilt Thursday, at Pretty Bobbins

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Very Slow Stitching all Week

I have been poorly all week - first a severe cold, which developed into bronchitis & asthma.  The asthma has not settled and I have spent the whole week in bed on and off.  Hence very little stitching!

Back earlier this week, I headed downstairs for an hour or so, and managed to sew the first block in the "Threads of Memory" block of the month by Barbara Brackman.  The block is called Portsmouth Star.

 
I have been wanting to make a Civil War quilt for a long time, so this was perfect timing to nudge me to do it.  I used two striped fabrics, the neutral and the dark brown, and fussy cut both so that the stripes all go the "right" way.  This of course meant copious reverse sewing, because no matter that I had laid out the block ready to sew, I still managed to put it together incorrectly.  I just love this.
 
There is now a Flickr group going for this, so I bit the bullet and created a Flickr account, not without problems mind you, and I have uploaded this block to it.  There are some truly gorgeous blocks up already.
 
I will be using this for my March NewFO for the linky at Cat Patches later this month.  Hopefully I will have done February's block by then.
 
I have made no progress at all in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  I went down this morning thinking I would put together a block or two, and managed no more than drawing the lines for some HSTs for the Jacobs Ladder blocks.  That will have to wait a bit longer.
 
Also during the week, I received a parcel from the give away I won earlier this month that Jan at Sew and Sow Farm ran.

 
There is a pack of EPP papers for 1" honeycombs, and for 1" squares.  The pack of honeycombs has a plastic template in it which will be useful.  The book is the Paper Pieces catalogue.  They have an enormous range of EPP supplies.

This afternoon I watched a storm come in from the south west from the bedroom window.  First the clouds - huge black thunderclouds appeared over the hills that run along the western horizon, just behind the other shore of Brisbane Water.  Then the curtain of rain became obvious, obliterating the hills, and progressing across the water.  Behind that curtain of rain the water was all dark grey and choppy with white horses dancing.  Then the wind hit!  The trees on our shoreline are only about 50 meters away, and the wind was hurling them from side to side.  And then the lashing rain.  Nature is truly awesome.  It lasted all of 10 minutes & passed over us, leaving the birds shrieking and agitated.  It has all settled down.  It was amazing to watch.

Last week, my daughter had acquired a whole tray of plums, and offered me some.  I got up at lunch time and processed them for jam.  I found a recipe I haven't used before, which calls for the plums to be cut in half and covered with sugar overnight.  I chopped up 2kg of plums and put them into 2 x 2 litre ice cream containers and will freeze them tomorrow for a time when I feel up to making jam.  At least this way they won't be wasted.  Here is one of the buckets.

 
If the recipe works, I will post it up here, but you might have to wait a few weeks.
 
What I have been doing in the evenings is working on my "Lattice Lodge" cross stitch, which I blogged about here.  It was my February NewFO start with very little progress.  I took it with me to Queensland, but didn't achieve much because we were too busy.

 
It is on very fine aida cloth, which is making me struggle a bit, but it is progressing, albeit very slowly.  Thankfully my beautiful daughter gave me a magnifying glass with a built in LED light for my birthday.  What a prize!  It stands on the floor beside the chair I use in the living room, and when I don't need the magnifying glass, it still gives me wonderful bright light to sew by.  I have become very dependant on it.
 
When the clock ticks over to Sunday in the US, I am planning to link up this post with the Slow Stitching Sunday link, at Kathys Quilts.  Do go over and take a look at some of the other things people are doing.
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Working with Teal

This month's colour for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is Teal, or any colour between green and blue.  I would not have said I had a heap of that, but it turns out I do, at least enough to give heaps of variety for a scrappy block or three.

I dragged all of my pre-cut squares upstairs and had a lovely time the other night sorting through them all in front of the TV to find what I needed to make the blocks I have set myself for the challenge.  I managed to find almost everything I needed and only had to cut a few.

So Friday morning at Friday Quilters I set to and constructed two of the blocks.  First up is the Road to Tennessee.

 
I am absolutely loving this block.  I have big intentions of creating a whole quilt from it for Stitching Hearts.  Mind you these blocks are going to Stitching Hearts too when the challenge is done at the end of the year, but I want to do one sooner. 
 
Next up is the scrappy 25-patch which I am making from 3" squares. 

 
This particular block I have got organised chaos going on. Can you see that I have tried to create a bit of a design with the darker shades in an "X" across the block?  Perhaps that's not what you should be doing with a scrappy block, but there you go, it is done.
 
Linking up this week with the RSC14 link at SoScrappy.  Do go and visit a few of the other blogs for a sneak peek at their creations.  There is such a variety of teal goodies being presented!
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Friday, 7 March 2014

A Birthday Tote

My youngest grand daughter will be turning 8 on Sunday, and her present this year was a "grown up" bible.  So pretty!  Pink of course.....

 
So I decided that it needed a special tote and found some cute fabric the other day - pretty good match!  I finished it this afternoon.

 
The tote is from a tutorial which I found here at Just Another Hang Up.  It was very easy to make.

 
Instead of just top stitching the handles, I used one of the fancy stitches on machine.  Never get to use them, so this was a perfect time to test them out.

 
The lining was some fabric from stash.


 
I forgot to show you the gorgeous owl teapot which came home from Queensland. 

 
The Tambourine Mountain Teapots was next door to the cafĂ© we had lunch in at Curtis Falls the day we went up to Tambourine Mountain.  It was a bit of an ask to choose which of the lovely teapots to buy, but in the end this one made it home with us, and has joined the other cuties on my shelf. 
 
The other thing which came home with me the other day from Pieces to Treasure was this lovely table runner.  It is one of Jenelle's own designs.  I plan to start the applique panels as soon as my hexie quilt is finished, which will be soooon!  WooHoo!

 
I have read a couple of books recently too.  Travelling time is great time to read, so I got a couple of books from the library to take with us to Queensland.  The first was "Threadbare" by Monica Ferris.  This was a mystery with the key player being the owner of an embroidery shop.  A sweet little book.  The second was "Mrs Lincoln's Dressmaker" by Jennifer Chiaverini, the author of the Elm Creek Quilts series.  This book was the book of the month for February at the online book club run by Susan at Starwood Quilter.  I enjoyed the book.  In Australia during my school years, American history was skimmed through very fast, if at all, so I found it interesting from a historical perspective, and learnt a lot about the Civil War period.  This month's book is A Drunkard's Path by Clare O'Donohue, not available in my library, so I have ordered it in.  What a fantastic service to be able to get the book from one of the other libraries in this state for just a few dollars. 
 
Back to the bridge table tomorrow and on Sunday too. We are playing in the Teams Championships at Brisbane Water.  Suckers for punishment eh?
 
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.