Friday, November 28, 2008

My trip to Western Australia was so much fun, I'm very glad I went. At the gathering I met up with Nicola and Blogless Kathy, both longtime longarm friends. I said that we were becoming the Old Ladies of Quilting, as we'd been doing it so long. That sounded dreadful, so I amended it to the Elders of Quilting. We don't sound so decrepit that way.
This little guy was minding the pins on Terry's treadle machine. He's made of batiks, Log Cabin style, with a cute little parrot tail. I think I will have to make one like it for my own.

I talked so much during the three days at Terry's that I completely lost my voice; I know we didn't have to stay up past midnight talking every night, but we had to finish off the wine, it doesn't keep once it's been opened!

We went shopping and I bought myself some Crocs, having finally found a pair that suited me. I bought them instead of a pair of reindeer at this Christmas shop, which was full of utterly beautiful decorations. I will be sad at not having the reindeer, but my feel will be nice and comfy.

Terry delivered my to my brother Doug's place on Sunday, and I drank more wine and talked even more. It was all very relaxing and fun.

Doug's garden is lovely, I spent a lot of time wandering and taking photos. This Asiatic Lily was amazing, very decorative. I've never grown lilies, but I think I might have a go.The State flower of Western Australia is the Kangaroo Paw, and we saw plenty of them as we drove around. They flourish here, and some bushes were nearly taller than me.

When you look closely at them you can see the furry little flowers that do look a lot like the front paws of a kangaroo.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

There's nothing quilty about today's post; I've had a thoroughly lazy day, lounging around and doing absolutely nothing. I had a hard day's travel yesterday, leaving at midday and getting to bed at 3am, so I needed a day to recover.

We started the day with a wander through Terry's beautiful garden, which is so wonderfully perfumed it's enough to make you swoon. The roses are gorgeous, the star jasmine a riot of flowers and the hollyhocks taller than me. I wish my garden could look like this, but we have much tougher water restrictions, so it's just not possible..I love these poppy seedpods, such lovely blue-grey colours and sculptural shapesWhat better way to spend the morning than a visit to Spotlight's sale, and 30m of fabric to take home. I got enough fabric for 5 backings and 3 bindings, 4 skirts and 3 blouses, plus some stash additions. Not a bad haul.

Then onto the Marina, where we had a mocha, lunch, and a wander through the shops. What a Life!!
We came home full of plans to work, but lost the plot. I slept for 3 hours, then we had streak and salad for tea and demolished a bottle of very nice Merlot and talked the night away. I'll have to be up early to get ready for the Gathering; should be great fun. There are more than 30 longarmers coming, and it will be a great chance to network and share knowledge. I'm off to get my beauty sleep now......


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Well my first Workathon was such a fabulous success that I did it all again last weekend and I got a lot done. I cooked, worked in the garden, sewed on my projects and also did a lot of printing for orders. Last week I tried to catch up with computer work, and put together the arrangements for a quick trip to Western Australia for the machine quilters gathering over there. I hadn't meant to go, but all the planets were in alignment and so many things fell into place that I sort of HAD to. I leave tomorrow, and will have a day off before the gathering on Saturday. It will be good to catch up with quilter friends over there, as well as family. I'm looking forward to the trip, even if there's a lot of preparation still left to do. More printing, collating and folding before I get on the bus for the airport.

So what did I achieve sewing-wise? Now don't laugh, but this is my attempt at a random arrangement of my scrap 4-patches. I honestly tried to just throw them altogether, but it goes against the grain with me; I'm a pattern sort of person. I spent far too long fitting all the tiny pieces together just so; I think I will use this as a tablecloth, it's just the right size and it's very pretty with all those pastel background squares.

After I'd finished that I gritted my teeth and tried to do random once again. And it still didn't work. I should give up I think, or work blind-folded. But I have two runners like this, quilted already, and I have NO more 4-patches, not a single one. I am happy with my empty strip drawers, and ready to cut up some prettier scraps for future quilts.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

We always seem to miss out on the quiltathons organised by Stashbuster, or Judy L. I'm determined to have my own workathon this weekend, not just quilting but cooking and gardening too. I seem to spend my life rushing past all the things I want to do and promising that I'll do them later. This weekend is IT! And I really should have a Cleanathon, but not right now....

My scraps are overwhelming me, and I'm running out of cut pieces, so I will cut up this tiny pile of pieces to restock the strip drawers. That's 3 yards of fabric there; I weighed it. It will give a nice variety to the scrap project on the design wall, but it won't help the stashbusting much. That's about 1/4 of one of my scrap drawers; I must have 35 yards in scraps alone, just waiting to be sliced up, that is just stuff that I have discarded from my Real Stash.

I put all my tiny 1.5" scraps in this old milk billy, and every few months I sew them all together and make 4-patches from them. I know, MORE of the little sods. But it uses up every last little bit, and they are very useful to have in the orphan drawer. I'm sewing my way through the pile, adding in a HST now and then. It takes a bit of trimming afterwards, and is probably not worth the effort involved, but it's just something I've been in the habit of doing. I have great trouble being random with my colour choices and placement, and this helps me get over all my agonising. It truly doesn't matter what pieces I sew together, they all blend in.

Before I forget, if you are interested in the Judie Rothermel fabric club you can join it here; I just received a shipment of reds, and they are delicious. Don't go and look in the rest of her shop while you're there, it's far too dangerous.

During the week Mereth and I kept stopping in at the Op-Shop, admiring two lovely green chenille bedspreads, and talking ourselves out of having them because we had no idea what to do with them. Then our friend Sonia showed us some beautiful stitcheries she'd made, intending to turn them into cushions. The green in the stitcheries was a wonderful match for the chenille, and Sonia loves chenille; we bought the bedspreads the next day, and they will be great as the back of the cushions, with a little bit scattered in the patchwork on the front. We will have fun working on these. I really want to use the fringe around the edge of the cushions, that would be fun.

It's funny how some colours show up again and again, once you start noticing them. We saw this ensemble in traffic in Adelaide, and just had to grab some photos. That is a very cool looking set-up!


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I don't buy a lot of quilting magazines these days, as I have a collection of hundreds dating back 30 years. Not a lot of the current ones have anything new, or exciting enough to pique my interest. However I saw this in the newsagents last week and it's full of cute projects, all designed by a French quilter and shop-owner. I love that bag on the cover,so much! I've pored over it several times, each time finding some new delight in the pictures of her crowded shop and home. It's just bursting with good ideas. There are a lot of projects other than quilts, all naive style, and while I don't normally do that sort of thing, this lot really appeal. I don't mind buying books of projects that I have no intention of making, because it's worth it for the ideas it sparks. If I really want to make the projects then that's a bonus.

I am so definitely going to make this lovely project caddy. I have a metal frame on castors that I thought I would make a canvas bag for, but now it's going to be one of these. I have a few pieces of vintage 50's fabric that would look great, and I might use metal rings in the corners instead of bows. But I also want one with a wooden frame that could live in the loungeroom and hold my knitting. It's so great when an idea inspires you so much you just want to jump right in.

A local secondhand dealer is a mate, and when he heard that we were interested in sewing machines he promised to bring two in for us to have a look at. They are both 99k models, and not in tip-top condition, but worth having. I spent this morning digging and scraping the gunk out so that I could give them a good oiling. The belt on one just fell apart, and I thought it interesting to see the construction of a vintage machine belt. It's strands of black linen twine with a canvas sheath and a rubber coating. It's amazing how synthetics have changed our world; modern belts are just a piece of plastic. And this is a not an original belt, but probably a replacement belt from a Singer 185, green to match the original machine. How cute is that?


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I don't know how these young folk manage to keep up with all the latest technology. It's exhausting trying to take advantage of all the fantastic developments. Take music for example. When we were young we waited many months or even years for our favourite artists to release new records, and had to save all our pocket money or spare income to afford the latest LP. When an album was no longer in the stores it had to be ordered, and often couldn't be obtained for love nor money. As for technology, we thought it amazing being able to set the old record player to play a stack of records, or to endlessly cycle through the same album. Mum loved that feature, I'm sure.I bought an MP3 player a few months ago,and joined Emusic. I get 30 downloads a month, plus an audiobook. I love it, make no mistake, but it takes me forever to track down music I want, download it, sort it out and then transfer it to the player. Then I make a couple of CDs as backup and to play on the portable CD player so Mereth can listen to it in the workroom too. Am I just getting old, and can't keep up? I guess I need to get into a routine and stick to it. One Sunday a month seems to be entirely taken up with fiddling around with my music; in future I must really take time to enjoy it and not try to do anything else. I really am very grateful that I have access now to the folk music and ancient music that I've always loved. And don't get me started on YouTube; there's a way to lose a whole day!

Last time we met for our night group we had a pincushion session. Our quilt buddy Sonia does the most fabulous embroidery, and made us all a stitchery to turn into a bicornu pincushion. We had a sewathon to get them all sewn and stuffed and finished off, and very nicely they turned out too. My secret step is to apply weight to the stuffed cushion before sewing on the button, which helps to give it a nicer shape; the easiest way is to sit on for 15 minutes. When it came time to sew on the last button we realised we were one cushion short. Sonia watched while we turned the room upside-down searching, then stood up to help. And there was the pincushion on her chair!

Mereth found these old pincushions in amongst Mum's sewing gear. We made them from Laura Ashley samples in 1979; they are 29 years old and still working fine. The one on the top left was pulled apart, and 31 needles found hidden in the stufing. They eat needles.

And to continue the theme; this is Scabious, or Pincushion Flower. It's a flower from my childhood, and I love it's generous nature. It self-seeds and spreads to fill the garden with pretty lilac flowers every year. It's hardy and does well in this dry climate, and best of all I haven't managed to kill mine yet.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go 'sync my device'.....


Monday, November 03, 2008

This is the Freemasons Lodge in our town, and as you can see from the facade it was built in 1914. It came on the market a few months ago, and we were very impressed after our first viewing. The Lodge has only one or two active members, so it made sense to amalgamate with the bigger lodge in town and sell this property. I won't put up any pictures of the back hall, it was still chock full of 'Secret Mason Stuff' when we took photos, so it can stay private. But you'll agree the front meeting room is a perfect workroom or classroom for us, with the bonus of the huge back hall, once it has been brought up to safety standards. It has no emergency exit, so nobody will be going out there until that is sorted.

I'm only renting the building I'm in now, and I've been looking for my own place since I moved down here. The Realtor and the Freemason representative both thought of me when they were discussing putting it on the market, and they were right. It's just what I wanted! I won't move from here until I have to, but it's so nice to know there's a home for Millhouse when we need it. As you can imagine, it's hard to find a place that can accommodate a 12' long quilting machine.

We will definitely run workshops and classes there, as it's a lovely space and luckily has about 12 powerpoints; I don't know what the Masons were doing that needed so many powerpoints, but they will be very useful for machines and lights and irons. And I should also be able to get the 60 blue cups and saucers that they used, so I'll be able to throw a big tea-party!

And seeing you liked the foal, here's another. A lady in a nearby town rescues donkeys, and has five or six in a paddock. The foal was being ridiculously cute, capering about with his long ears flapping, until we got out the camera. He wasn't too sure of us after that.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

It seems I have tomatoes already. I don't need many, so I only have two small fruited varieties and four Roma plants. I would like to be able to harvest a fair few Romas and dry them, as we go through a lot of sun-dried tomatoes. I also have a white eggplant, but it's still a-growing, and hasn't produced flowers yet. I love having vegetable plants to check on every morning, it's satisfying to see new fruit setting.

I spent this morning sewing up a storm, while thunder growled overhead and rain lashed the garden. It was a great beginning to the day, as otherwise I would have been out there with hoses, trying to water everything. Instead I have a design wall full of these.I have to admit I sewed them with the wrong attitude, I just wanted them done and out of the way so I could get on to a proper project. But when I slapped them onto the wall and stood back I was struck by how cheerful they look. Putting all those medium and light squares in has changed the whole tone of them. So I'm well pleased with the morning's work.

My keyboard has decided that the letters C, V & B will not be participating today, not without a struggle. I have to keep levering them up to make them work. Maybe I need to vaccuum out the crumbs......

Hmmm, what could this be? I might have bought something for myself as an early Christmas present!


Saturday, November 01, 2008

I managed to get in some sewing time this morning, and it pleased me greatly. This isn't a quilt I wanted to make, I just did it because it would use up my ghastley 4-patches, and some fabric that was just a bit toooo thin for a good quilt, and some pink that I'd never managed to cut into since I bought it 5 years ago. So it was a surprise to find myself actually liking the soft drab look of the colours in the mid morning sun, as I sewed interminable border seams.It's nothing special, but I've been thinking of it as The Verandah Quilt while I made it. My Gran had two old wooden chairs on her verandah, padded with pillows that had faded and worn down to a shabby shadow of what they had once been. The setting fabrics in this quilt remind me of those old cushions, and of curling up in the chairs to read comic books. And I think this will be a nice quilt to use on my own verandah next winter, when I sit out there at evening with a cup of coffee and a quilt book.

And still there were more 4-patches! I'm getting desperate to be rid of them, so I am making border strips to put in the Orphan box, and using some of my extra HSTs to make random Anvil blocks. I plan to use up lots of leftovers in these blocks, and see if they look too disgusting put together edge to edge. If they are awful I'll shove them all into the overflowing Orphan box and schedule a time to deal with them later. But I want the box of 4-patches Empty.On the way into town the other day I glimpsed a foal in a paddock, and just had to turn around to take a photo. These Shetland ponies are adorable anyway, but the foal was just darling. The mother was only waist-height on me, and I'm SHORT. He was so little it didn't seem possible that he was real.

What a charmer.

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