22 Nov 2012

The Space Between

The time between my blogging last and now was filled with stress. I wasn't dealing well with planning, or organising, or changes planned. The changes are great (like adding a trip away to our year plans!) but I wasn't coping so well.

So there's been no crafting, other than a little hand stitching, and a lot of cleaning and sorting and organising.


Now that the laundry is sorted and organised within a inch of its life, and the holiday plans are coming together, I've been able to return to some stitching. Thank heavens - there are deadlines looming!




20 Oct 2012

Shameless appeal for your vote

Yes really - please vote.


The only saving grace in this is that for the vote is not for me, but my lovely sister.  Look what she made;

You can read the full story about it in Bell's post here

I should note here that we have another sister, and she is the one about to have a significant birthday and be given this lovely little book.  Not that I'm complaining - I have one in rose.


Please vote for Bell's project here - Fab Folds Challenge.  Voting closes at the end of October, and can be done once daily

She'd love to win a blog badge.

Thanks!

Of course, if you're an ACT resident like me, you'll also be voting in our local elections.  Unfortunately, we have to get dressed to do that one.

14 Oct 2012

Stitching and cutting and hooking

It's been a slow day, with time spent stitching my long term block of the month English paper piecing project, cutting fabric for my next quilt and crocheting.



We've had frequent pauses for delicious food, and regular checks on the resident kangaroos and honeyeaters.


I've also made another Christmas decoration from thread and cardboard.


It's a good retreat.

12 Oct 2012

Retreating

Abandoning freezing Canberra, I'm spending the weekend at a quilting retreat. No sewing machines permitted, so the pace is slow. Along the road here, I was thrilled to see a paddock of acid yellow canola and a small herd of belted galloways. My favourite crop and my favourite cattle. Perfect!



(I studied agriculture at university - of course I have favourites!)

11 Oct 2012

Tricks




A great advantage of talking quilts with other quilters is learning their tricks. I learnt a cool trick tonight for half square triangles, and am keen to put it into practice.

Not time tonight though - too much driving in the rain has left me very tired.

10 Oct 2012

The other side of the swap

Far removed from the anxious quilt making side of the swap is the delightful surprise of receiving a quilt.

And look at the lovely quilt I received;

It was made for me by Shaz from Alsha's Space.  I really like it's graphic lines and fantastic bird print features.

Thanks Sharyn!

9 Oct 2012

Granny Square Doll Quilt

Lately, I've been working on different ideas for the Down Under Doll Quilt Swap.  It's my first time as part of this swap, and I've been somewhat worried about every choice I have made.

After abandoning my first English paper pieced project, I turned to the granny square block, which I have seen in lots of places around the net.

It was easy to piece, although the instructions I followed meant every edge section was a bias edge, which worried me.  I'm typically terrible matching things up, so followed every pressing and pinning instruction, for pretty good results.  The finished quilt is around 17 inches square.

I also tried something new with the quilting - (mostly) parallel closely spaced lines of stitching.   I really like the effect this gave, but if I were to do it again would sash the edges with some white fabric.  The heavy quilting meant the edges were quite distorted, despite varying the direction of the stitching lines, which meant my points at the binding were not good.

Despite this issue I am very pleased with this little quilt, and hope my swap partner enjoys it too.



8 Oct 2012

An evening with friends




Delightful company, and I got the bindings stitched on. Photographs of the finished quilt and popping it in the post tomorrow!

7 Oct 2012

Words fail

Too many errands, too many whingeing children.



Guacamole for dinner, and things start improving. Thank heavens.

6 Oct 2012

Saturday

Saturday has been slow. I spent the morning transferring Harry Potter 5 from cd (24!!) to computer to iPod.

I also spent time on animal chores. At my most green, I disapprove of feeding wild birds. Trying to affect their lifestyle least, we put out seed sporadically, but do always provide water. Today we were rewarded with the king parrots dropping by the feeder. Such vividly colored birds - they're Christmas on the wing!

After writing that, I cannot figure out how to move my photo from to this computer, so instead, here's an Eastern Rosella for your enjoyment


We also had the inlaws over for dinner and cards, so it's been a busy day. If boring to read about.

5 Oct 2012

Fabulous!

Today, I spent quite some time washing (5 loads - thankfully, it was lovely drying day.) I also rearranged my Tupperware cupboard. It's fabulous now, but not really something I'm keen to show off here.

Instead, here's a progress shot of my granny square blocks, which I decided to go with for the doll quilt swap.




Tomorrow, I'm planning to get into the quilting. I'm looking forward to it.

4 Oct 2012

The Beach

We spent two hours at the beach this morning, as a last hurrah before returning inland to home.


The children had such a good time. Holding hands against the strength of the waves, building a castle of kelp, and rolling in the sand.

It was bright, hot, sandy and accompanied by freezing water. I much prefer to look at the beach, rather than spending time there. But then, I also like looking at mountains, rather than climbing them. Murder mysteries probably fall into this category too.

***************************************

Tonight, we're back in Canberra, very tired. The kids are home with my husband, listening to Harry Potter, their latest obsession.

I'm waiting for the action to start at Canberra Quilters. It seemed more polite to blog than fall asleep.

3 Oct 2012

Visiting

The children & I have spent a few days visiting my parents at their home. We've spent time gathering macadamias (averaging 70/day at present), have had seaside fish & chips fir dinner, and listened to Harry Potter 3.

We've also spent time in the park across the road. This magnificent old gum is the heart of the park.


We worry about it.

There has also been time for sewing - I hope to finish my blocks tonight.

2 Oct 2012

Blossoms in my garden

Spring is my favourite time of the year in the garden.  Endless potential, and the plants we've forgotten about return.

Not that I'm much of a gardener.  I have ideas, but am a terrible weeder, and maintainer of pretty things.  Sadly, my husband's the same.

So, we'll enjoy springtime, plant a few summer vegies, and then let most of them die off when the weather gets hot.

I think I should make a spring time quilt - flowers with no need for weeding!

1 Oct 2012

October means Blogtoberfest

Well, in certain spheres it does anyway.  This year, Kat from I Saw You Dancing is hosting, and it's already looking good.  In fact, just Kat's blog name is enough to get me thinking happier thoughts.  Despite the looming pressure of daily blogging.



I'm starting my festival of blogging with a creative dilemma. I'm a participant in the third round of the Down Under Doll quilt swap, and am suffering major performance anxiety.

My English paper pieced block was progressing nicely, when I realised another quilter was using the same block.  Being mature and all, I decided to proceed anyway.  But now I have no confidence that my quilt will be at all what my swap recipient would like.

Last night, I had a brain storm.  It's an alternative that could work very nicely, but there's only a week left.  It's doable.  I think it will make me happier, so tonight I'll be diving into that so very well organised stash of mine.

17 Sep 2012

Organising once more

My spring cleaning has reached the craft room/office/excess toys storage/outgrown clothes storage disaster zone. Any time a room has more than one purpose, I figure it's a time bomb. This particular bomb has exploded.


Our cat Maggie has a fondness for wool, so it needs to be all stored in a solid cupboard with a shutting door. Which is currently occupied by a fair portion of the quilting stash. Most of the toys have been removed from the built in wardrobe (school spring fair next weekend seeking donations = perfect timing), so I have a bakers rack thing to build in there to put the fabric on.

The computer desk is piled high with random craft supplies, books and other un-categorisable objects.

There's a long way to go before order is restored. On the bright side, I found a previously unused Buttontree Lane project bag (win) and (less bright) many, many knit/crochet UFOs.  I'll count them later, as I move them into the very secure cupboard.

I've also finally come to the stage where I need to stop buying fabric. Previously when I've gone on a voluntary fabric buying ban it's been for reasons of economy. Now it's because I have achieved SABLE status (Stash Acquisition Beyond Lifetime Expectancy.) Lordy.

13 Sep 2012

Mooching

Lately, I feel like nothing exciting's happening in my life. I've been spring cleaning (which is completely out of character) and been feeling consistently headachey for some time.

The deadline's fast approaching for the Down Under Quilt Swap, and I've been working on some paper piecing for my quilt.

Last week, I was fantasizing about giving up cooking. Completely. Never doing it again. Today, I decided to wait on that until the children move out. Only 10 years or so. So I celebrated by cooking Nigella's Zucchini Cake. My sister and I both enjoyed it, and we weren't at all concerned when only one of the five children present liked it.




While over thinking cooking, I've also been considering modern quilting. I'm not convinced I'm a modern quilter. Still, I like using modern fabrics, and my eye prefers to look at modern quilts, so maybe I am.

Tonight I'm grumpy about missing the modern quilts group meeting run by the guild (my husband has been working ridiculous hours lately.) Best go and read a few more blogs to make up for it!

27 Aug 2012

Weekending

We've just returned from a magical weekend at the coast.  Wonderful sunshine, beautiful beaches, and time and space to reconnect with my sister and her family, and our parents, who have recently returned from an extended visit (to our other sister) in the UK.




We didn't visit the beach much as children. We all burn easily, and were never very good swimmers. In contrast, my kids love the beach, and are confident swimmers. Not that they were actually swimming this time - its only August, after all. We spent a lot of time on the sand this visit, and enjoyed it.




On our last day, we enjoyed the (free) breakfast at 8, then spent a quick hour on the beach before showering the kids again (an ongoing theme) and checking out by 12. This last beach play was definitely worth the trouble as while we were there a couple of dolphins cruised past us slowly. Magic!

After leaving the beach, we went for a family bush walk. It went through both rainforest and dry eucalypt forest, and had fascinating remnants of logging throughout. A lovely walk and the perfect length for the children to manage.


Most of the time, I'm happy to live in Canberra. But when it's nearly the end of winter, it's such a treat to go to the coast, feel the warm air, and use my Sunday again. Now I can manage to wait for the warm weather.

17 Aug 2012

Ducks on the wall aka Grandma's Hallway

My second entry in the recent quilt show was a miniature.  It measures 25 x 35cm, and is a representation of china ducks flying across the vast spaces of my grandparents heavily wallpapered hallway.


The fabric I chose for the 'wallpaper' is a Jinny Beyer print which has been in my stash for a very long time.  In fact, the selvedge says it is called "Millennium", so it can probably be date to 1999.  It's quite heavily machine quilted following the pattern of the fabric, although this is pretty much invisible in these pictures.

I didn't have any ducks, nor any confidence in the idea of making a duck shape so instead fussy cut these pukeko's from some souvenir fabric I bought in New Zealand.  In any case, I think they look far funkier than any duck could.



I also tried something new when it came to binding the quilt - a facing, as explained here by Brenda Smith of Serendipity Patchwork & Quilting.  It worked really well, and I was pleased with finish this gave.

It was lovely to see it hanging in the exhibition.

And I have hung the china ducks in our bedroom, where they look quite unlike this little quilt.

29 Jul 2012

Challenge Quilt DONE!

Yesterday was quilt drop-off day, and I was very happy to be delivering my exhibition quilts.

First, my challenge quilt, Centred Red.

The challenge was to make a quilt with the theme "Red Plus One."  Each quilt was to be 70cm x 50cm in a portrait format.

The centre of Australia is known as the Red Centre, due to it's red dirt and rocks, including Uluru.  At first, I intended my quilt to be a mass of pieced Uluru blocks, but as time went on, my plans changed, and I ended up with only five.

I've never properly visited the red centre, but did stop in a plane in Alice Springs once for an hour. When I was in primary school, my grandparents brought back a jar of red dirt from Ayers Rock (as Uluru was known then), and I was astonished by it.

Some day (probably after winter stops being my husband's busy work season), we'll visit, and get to know the heart of our country.   Until then, the country of my heart is the coastal, high rainfall areas, where dairy cows can live.  Hence the vibrant green of my quilt, contrasting with the reds of the dirt.


My free motion machine quilting finally started working as it should during the quilting of this piece.  I'm not sure if it was the thread (Rasant) or the settings, but it worked beautifully, and I am still surprised and delighted with it.

24 Jul 2012

Back to school

The winter holiday break is over, and my kids are back in their classrooms. I'm delighted, since it's quilt delivery day on Saturday for the exhibition...and I need time to work on my pieces.


They're taking shape now, which is a relief. Machine quilting is also working smoothly for me, which is unprecedented in such large quantities. I don't know why I can't quilt with the children here, or in the evenings, but it's just difficult for me.

I'm also attempting to keep up with mystery shawl knit-along, which is taking quite a bit of time. Since there's overlap between the shawl and the Olympics, I've decided to withdraw my entry from the Ravellenic Games (challenge knitting for the duration of the Olympics run on .

All this is on top of my UFO list, which I've sadly done anything to at all this year, despite AJ's challenge.

Never mind, I have a list of exciting projects to do, we've some exciting family weekend trips planned, and life is looking good.

4 Jul 2012

Rainbow party for Miss 8

We celebrated on the weekend - Miss Eight had her birthday. Thanks to Auntie Bell, the food was fabulous, and everyone had a good time.




The weather cooperated, and as we arrived at the party venue, we spotted a rainbow.

We had the party at the CSIRO Discovery Centre, which was fabulous. The children got to handle various stick insects and turtles, and do various experiments. (Including extracting DNA, which took me some hours in a university lab some years ago. Now it's a kids 2 minute experiment...)

Its definitely an advantage of living in Canberra, easy access to many public national institutions. Apparently when the people were selecting the site for our national capital, one of the essential attributes of the site was a cold climate, as it helps brains function better. Our brains are functioning pretty well at present - I tried to use the garden hose yesterday morning, and it was frozen solid. We're still battling colds, which is less fun.

24 Jun 2012

Easing back in

Seems like I've taken another blogging break. We celebrated the end of my work by taking a quick overnight trip to Sydney. The Quilt Show and a football game coincided, so we all spent some time doing fun things in the big smoke.

I was impressed by the Quilt Show, and inspired by all the hexagons present, and surprised by the number of elephants that were design elements in quilts. Since I visited with my daughter, I hardly bought anything (except ribbons for her plaits) and only took two photos. Both of bejewelled quilts. Most unusual.

We returned home on Sunday, in time for my husband to pack for his work trip to Melbourne, where he spent the week. It was a strange week for me - catching up on my silent time, and going from being very busy, to not at all busy.



I'm still not back to my usual self - case in point being a nap yesterday. I don't do naps. So lots of sleep, a little cleaning, and a little sewing.

This coming week will be busier, since it includes a birthday party on Sunday it has to be. Despite my sister making a lot of wonderful goodies for the party, there are still things to do, and social anxieties to be navigated.

I'll still be making an effort to rest though.

15 Jun 2012

Rest is good

I'm very tired tonight. Today I finished my block of work, marking children's examination papers. I sat in the work room today, with 30 other markers, listening to the sound of coughing echoing down the hallway. My thoughts wandered down a tangent, imagining I was in hospital. All I could think of was how restful it would be.I'm not sick, but am worn out...

So tonight, instead of blogging about the wonderful Sew It Together from last weekend, or my latest knitting project, I'm relaxing with this furry beast.



It's nice.

9 Jun 2012

Preparing

for Sew It Together.  I'm nearly ready, which is good, since it's today. This year, I'm only attending the main stitching day of SIT.  I'm sure it will be great - and with my current work, and the fact that I live in the hosting city mean it was the smart choice.  I mean, I can (and do!) go to the shops on the shopping tour often. But I am thinking of a whole weekend of crafty indulgence.

My projects are done for the Sample Swap - pillowcases embellished with crocheted edging.

I'm very happy with them, and quite happy that the tutorial instructions I used involved cutting double quantities, so I have another set of pillowcases awaiting edging that I'm planning to keep.

Over the last two weeks, I've been working fulltime. In fact, six days a week.  It's been hard finding a rhythm.  I've only another week remaining in this block, for which I'm quite glad.  On the bright side, the children have been loving their after school care centre.  I'm very grateful - this could not be taken for granted, with my temperamental daughter.  When this work is over, I think the time has come to seriously look for a regular job. 


24 May 2012

My Creative Space

It's been a long while since I've been part of My Creative Space.  But today, there is actual creativity happening on a Thursday morning, so it seems right.

I've spent some lovely time fossicking through my stash, in search of the perfect pillowcase fabrics.  I figure this is the perfect use for those fabulous florals that I can't bear to cut up.

Cassie has a wonderful tutorial for making pillowcases with a crocheted edge.  I think they look adorable, and need some now.  So far, I'm up to Step Two, making the Posh Pillowcases.

More creative spaces over here

22 May 2012

Happy patterns

Today, I'm cutting up some fabulous prints. They've been marinating in the stash for some time. In fact, some for a LONG time, and I'm happy to be using them. It's not for a quilt, but it does require the use of my large cutting mat.



As the weekend was devoted to moving my bookcase, and swapping it over with our buffet/sideboard thing, I have my cutting mat once more.

The moving was a huge task, and resulted in a large cull of the collections (9 greenbags of books are gone to charity.) It's also sorted logically now. One shelf for children's picture books, two for children's chapter books, one for photo albums, one for my wildlife collection, and the rest are assorted novels. Mainly collected by author. There's room for cookbooks too. I've also established a box, where books not yet read wait. They're not making it on the shelf until I've judged them worthy.

It's making me very happy, seeing these organised shelves. And making me feel I can spend time making things. It's a nice feeling.

16 May 2012

Preparing for Sew It Together 2012

There are only a few weeks left until Sew It Together 2012.  Register fast if you'd like to join in the fun.

This year, it's being held in my home town of Canberra.  So no travel arrangements to make, but I do have stitching projects to do.

First on the list was the Name Tag Swap, organised this year by Gillian.

I made a badge for Lily, another Canberra girl.


Today, my nametag arrived from Becky.

I'm very happy with my badge, and am looking forward to wearing it.

This was a particularly enjoyable swap for me, since I've met both Lily and Becky already.

8 May 2012

Cutting diagonally




Cutting diagonally is essential right now. My large cutting mat is stored upright behind my bookcase. Perfect - flat, invisible to childish eyes and easy to access. Except. Last time I put it away, it cartwheeled. It's now far out of my reach, behind the bookcase. Which is full of books. It's a big bookcase, and I have a lot of books, so each shelf has books, with another layer of books on top of those, and where the books are narrow enough, there's another row in front, and another layer on top of this row.

So I'm cutting diagonally, because my 'class' mat isn't wide enough for a fat quarter. Still, the blade is sharp, the children are at school and the sun is shining. Things could be far, far worse.

3 May 2012

Poxy

Way back in primary school, the derogatory word of choice in my set was 'poxy'. "That tshirt is so poxy, Mum, I can't wear it."

This week, I've been using poxy all the time. We brought chicken pox home from New Zealand with us. My darling daughter has gone from her usual 'I don't want to go to school' whinge to 'I want to go to school' instead.

This too shall pass, but in the meantime it's very annoying. We
went for a bike ride earlier today, hoping to exercise without infection. I figure the sun was shining strongly enough to kill any poxy germs anyway.



In my spare time, I got a quilty idea, and actually acted on it. Only cutting today, but who knows what tomorrow may bring.



30 Apr 2012

Dithering

Astonishingly, it's nearly a month since my last post. So here are my bullet points guide to what I've been up to in April.

  • Quilting.  It's ongoing, and no, won't be adding to my 12WIPin2012 total.
  • Crocheting. Lovely Posh Yarn.  Lovely to work with, can't wait to wear it.  Especially since the weather is so cold.
  • Farewelling.  All my children's grandparents have set off on adventures; they'll be back in August.  We'll miss them all.
  • Organising.  For Easter, for our holiday.
  • Travelling.  For two weeks in New Zealand's beautiful North Island.
  • Photographing.  574 photos in those two weeks.
  • Thinking. About geology.  I did pay attention in those lectures in first year Uni, but I want to know so much more after visiting geothermal hotspots.
  • Walking in an active volcano.  Highlight. 
  • Washing.  We brought back an awful lot of dirty clothes.

1 Apr 2012

Winter is coming

Daylight savings ended here this morning. We used the (putative) extra hour to indulge in pancakes for breakfast. I don't know what diabetics are supposed to eat for an indulgent breakfast, but I'm pretty certain it wouldn't involve a choice of chocolate topping, maple syrup, frozen raspberries, lemon and sugar. They were delicious.

We're preparing for Easter this weekend. I'm making a chick wreath, using some wool the kitten kindly delivered to the lounge room. Very helpful. If she has access to it, it's not important, so ripe for crafting with.


This year, I'm attempting to decorate for Easter with autumnal influences. To help with this, I've gathered an enormous amount of acorns, which may well be rolled in glitter shortly. My favourite view from our lounge shows autumn has definitely arrived already.


I should be publishing my March finish for the 12 WIP challenge, but my machine was (is) playing up, and my life has been busy. On the bright side, I'll definitely make the deadline for April.

29 Mar 2012

Historically speaking


Today, I thought I had found Billabong. A beautiful homestead, lovingly restored. A glimpse was enough to transport me to my childhood dreams courtesy of Mary Grant Bruce.




In truth, it was Lanyon Homestead which I visited with a school excursion as a parent helper.
I'll probably never live on a farm, but oh I wish I could. It was an envious day.
On another note, the title of today's post is the name my fabulous Dad has used for his newspaper columns on local history. Today was an important day for Dad - his last regular day of work before embarking on various holidays and long service leave before retirement. He's spent the last 37 years at the one place of work, in a combination of journalism, cricket reporting and proof reading. He and Mum are really looking forward to a summer holiday, as Dad's cricket work has meant he hasn't had one in all that time.

*actually, this wasn't Dad's title. But it was a historical play on words like his title.

24 Mar 2012

This week


There's been quite a bit of yellow this week. My boy has turned nine, and the cooler weather seems firmly established.


I've started a new crochet project, a ripple rug. Since I'm still in the first row, it didn't seem worth photographing. I'm also not entirely committed to the design - possibly I should be doing a granny square type design. I'll do a couple of rows before deciding for sure.

Quilting is also happening, but slowly. Machine quilting still isn't quite natural for me, and this quilt I'm working on for my darling husband's birthday is quite large. Still hoping to have it done by the end of March though.

22 Mar 2012

Swapping Mug Rugs

While I had avoided the mug rug trend sweeping the blogiverse, a good swap opportunity is not to be passed up.
The lovely Amanda made this mug rug for me - rainbow piecing and lots of white makes it very nice indeed.




For Andrea, I made this little one;




I really enjoyed making this - something about a restricted size maybe - and it was so small that machine quilting was a joy.

12 Mar 2012

Progress

Lately, I've been spending time on Twitter instead of blogging. It can certainly be rewarding, and I'm loving participating in the weekly talknt quilting chats. They're creatively invigorating, and the timing works for me (for a change!)

I'm also loving instant news. Australian politics has been exciting the last few weeks, and I'm loving reading informed and often snarky commentary as an alternative to tv news. (I'm Canberra_Leah if you're on twitter too.)

However, it means sneak peeks of my latest projects have been shared on twitter rather than here.

So today we've spent the morning at the Zoo, and now I'm spending some time working on a swap mug rug. This is the back;


That lovely heart is from my Prints Charming off cuts pack I bought at Sew It Together in Sydney last year.

Unfortunately, it's not part of the UFO challenge. I've done a little hand appliqué on the biggest UFO this month, but it's nowhere near done. Better get onto that tomorrow, I think.