Friday, December 16, 2011

challenges and gifts.....

..... another quick catch up::

firstly, our felty christmassy something :: a cute, simple little plum pudding

and, as mentioned in my last post, my lovely Kris Kringle gift from my wonderful friend Sue ::

isn't it lovely?

our next challenge? a cute felty flowery brooch, and a gorgeously sweet little house decoration.

these little challenges are so much fun!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

catching up.....

Where have the last few weeks gone??? The time has just flown by as it always does, particularly at this time of the year, but just lately it seems to have done a complete vanishing act.

So, time for a bit of a catch up.

Firstly, our Sunday mini-challenge. Mini-challenge #1 done - our cute little bag.

Pop on over here to have a look at Ms Kylie's too.

Our second mini-challenge, now already finished, was a pincushion. My choice, as I needed a new one, and a bigger one too, 'cos I kept poking my self with pins that were coming through to the bottom of my old one!. Our lovely friend Gabbie also joined in too.

Kylie's and Gabbie's lovely pincushions are here.

We are now up to our third challenge - a little felty, christmassy something - a cute plum pudding perhaps? Piccies of my soon-to-be-completed mini-challenge #3 soon!

Now, Gabbie's turn to choose next week!

Speaking of felty, christmassy somethings, it was our Wednesday night group break-up this week and we had a Kris Kringle. We were all very remiss, as none of us remembered to take any photos, but I made a little felty, christmassy something for it - a little Christmas garland with hearts, holly leaves, red 'berries' and some little crocheted flowers. I do have a little confession though; I did put it off until the last minute and so it was a bit thrown together, but kind of cute I hope.

I was the very lucky recipient of my lovely friend Sue's gift, a gorgeous little decoration with a lovely vintage-y feel to it, very sweet. (photo to follow later - thank you Sue, I love it!)

Christmas is looming frighteningly quickly (do you all feel like that too??) and I still have several gifts to make, so it will be head down at the sewing machine over the next few days between work hours and christmas functions.

Of course, 2012 will follow very soon after, and already I have managed to put my hand up for three quilt-alongs/challenges! More about those soon.

Another challenge I have set just for myself (and anyone who wants to join in) is a "12 in '12" challenge - to have 12 quilts completed in 2012. Not an original plan of course, but I hope it will motivate me to get some quilts finished, particularly as I (STILL!!) have three quilt tops waiting to be quilted apart from the WIPs/UFOs currently still hiding at home!

Currently the "12 in '12" list is -

:: Sampler quilt - to be quilted and bound
:: Hand pieced sampler quilt - to be quilted and bound
:: 'Persian Tiles' quilt - to be quilted and bound
:: A quilt for my niece's birthday in March - not yet started
:: A quilt for my nephew's birthday in May - not yet started
:: Finishing my 'French Braid' quilt - currently a WIP
:: 'Pinwheel' sampler quilt - a 2012 challenge
:: 'BBQ' quilt - a 2012 challenge
:: Round Robin - a 2012 challenge/quilt-along
:: Irish Chain quilt - currently a UFO
:: my Lori Smith applique - currently a WIP
:: Lumiere de Noel charm square quilt - not yet started

There are others I want to finish too, but I think I will be pretty happy if I can just get those above completed!

So, I am very happy that I have finally now caught up! More again very soon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

'working on' wednesday {4}.....aka 'sunday mini-challenge' {1}

On Sundays at the quilt shop, I work with the lovely Ms Kylie who (along with the lovely Miss Amanda on Saturdays), makes this job so much fun. While Kylie and I were chatting last weekend about sewing in general and fabric we liked for bags in particular, she mentioned a cute and easy bag pattern that she had, and asked if I would like to make one too. As I said I would love to, she came up with the idea of us both making one by the next Sunday; and thus, our 'Sunday Mini-Challenge' was created!

So, here is our bag pattern ::

In this instance we are both using the same fabric, as with the size of material we needed, it was more economical to buy one piece each of the outside and the lining, and cut them in half. We both love this material, so we don't mind it being the same. This is from the gorgeous 'Etchings' range by 3 Sisters for Moda, which we have all been in raptures about in the shop.

The blue print, which is a map of Paris, is for the outside, and the cream cursive script material is the lining.

As this week has all of a sudden become much busier than expected, I had better get my skates on and start making it - it would be rather embarassing to fail on our very first challenge!!

And now it is my turn to pick next week's challenge. Perhaps a cute little pincushion? Or a gorgeous little brooch? Maybe even a little Christmassy something?? We shall see next Sunday!

In the meantime, some progress has been made on my previous 'working on' Wednesday projects - a few more rows of my crocheted blankie done, and another block finished for my applique project.

My little knitted bag is now sewn up and ready to be lined. Kylie asked me what book this pattern came from, so I have included a photo, and the photos in the book of this little bag.

Hopefully there will be some more ta-dahs to show you next week - including my 'Sunday Mini-Challenge' bag!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

'working on' wednesday {3}

Today, a little project which has actually been a UFO for some time - five years in fact. FIVE years!!! Which is a little embarassing, as there is not much I need to do to finish it. Truth is, I had forgotten all about until recently!

So, I have moved it on to my list of WIPs and plan to finish it very shortly.

This is (or will be) a little knitted bag, and the pattern is from Emma King's book 'Fun and Funky Knitting'. I love this book; the patterns in it are really cute and most of them are quite easy.

My little bag is the 'Floral' pattern. SUPER easy and quick - so no excuse for it not being finished!

The beautiful floral material is for the lining and I absolutely ADORE this fabric - it was called 'Petals from the Past' by Hoffman, and was out around 5-6 years ago. I only came across it towards the end of it's run, and so only have two small pieces with this green background, and a few small pieces with the white background. It's kind of become one of those fabrics that people refer to as their 'holy' or 'sacred' fabrics - the ones that are soooooo beautiful that you are almost too afraid to cut into them, especially when you can't get any more!

Here's a few more photos of its utterly exquisite gorgeousness ::

On Wednesday nights I go to a sewing group with a few like-minded crafty friends. We get together for a social sit-and-sew, and have been meeting for two years now. It is such a pleasant little interlude during the week - lots of laughs, something yummy to eat and a bit more progress on a project - a perfect night!! It's always a good time to get some hand sewn projects done.

Unfortunately I have not made it to many Wednesday nights lately due to some health problems, but as we now only have about 4 more evenings until we break for Christmas, I am planning to get my little bag sewn up ready to be lined, and make some more progress on my crocheted blankie.

So, photos of my finished bag to come VERY SOON!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

'made by me' monday {2}

So, I guess it's no secret to anyone that knows me. When it comes to crafts, I am really a jack of all trades, master of none. However, although I have tried many different things over the years, the learning and creative process has always been the best part. The fact that I may have something I love to show for it at the end is just kind of a bonus.

And, in any case, if you don't try lots of things, you'll never find out what it is you do love, right?

Today's 'made by me' piece is a silver ring that I made when I took a one day silversmithing workshop last year. During the day we designed something and then made it. As I love silver jewellery, this ring was the perfect project; something I really enjoyed making and could wear at the end of the class.

The ring is silver and the heart in the centre is a Japanese silver/copper alloy called (I think) shibuichi. I must admit I was pretty pleased with myself that (given it's size), I managed to cut the heart out of the copper sheet with tin snips and, once I had smoothed the edges, still had a cute little heart shape!

I really enjoyed this silversmithing workshop, and would love to do it again - maybe next time some cute little matching round silver earrings with a copper heart in the centre too, hmmmm?

Friday, November 4, 2011

favourites on friday {1}

I thought I would like to show you some of the things I love. Many of them are things I have in my home, some are places that I love in the town where I live, and others might be things that I love to do during my day.

So, today, a little post about creativity and my family. Although none of my family share my interest or enjoyment in the 'domestic' arts such as sewing, knitting, crochet and so on, they are all quite talented in their own right. My Mum, for quite a few years, painted lovely Australian landscapes in oils, and my sisters are very talented at drawing; my younger sister took classes in botanical drawing, and has produced some beautiful pieces of work. She also wrote - and half finished - a wonderful novel which she never completed, and which I truly believe would have been published had she sent it to any publishers. Sadly, none of them now do any of these things.

My father, who passed away almost four years ago and to whom I was very close, loved to work in wood. He made many beautiful bowls and occasionally pieces of furniture, and when my niece and nephew were little, he created cute little wooden jigsaw puzzles for them.

I have one bowl (among many) which I treasure. Dad made it especially for me; it was a design in a woodworking magazine which he thought I would love.

It is based on the planet Saturn, and it's rings are represented by the wider rim around the central bowl shape.

I don't remember what wood it was made in, but the turning is so fine that the bowl has almost no weight at all. I was devastated when in moving house several years ago, a large, jagged piece broke from one side. Thankfully a friend of my Mum's was able to fix it without the damage being too visible.

I cherish this bowl, and what it represents of my relationship with my Dad. It sits in a spot in my living room where I can see it every day, near a photo of my Dad and I together.

This one is not just a favourite; it is one of my most treasured possessions.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

happy thoughts on thursday {2}..... pretty

today, some daisies blooming along my paling fence.....

'working on' wednesday {2}

Hello, and welcome to my second 'working on' wednesday post! Today, a little bit of applique.

I saw this pattern in the shop where I work and loved it.

As you can see below, I have been blanket stitching my applique. I would so love to be good at needleturn applique, and always say I will practice on the next block, but then I worry that if I try to needleturn it all, it will never get finished! So, blanket stitch it is, at least for this project.

I have had four blocks that have been finished for a little while now, and I am hoping to start a fifth one this week - maybe the one with the cute little house.

So, with any luck there will be another block to show you before too long!

These blocks are only 7" to start with, and so don't take too long to get through, although the one with all the leaves did take a little longer.

The great thing with small applique projects like this is that you can use up lots of little scraps that might otherwise get thrown away, and I HATE throwing fabric away unless it's so small it isn't useful for anything.

I do love a lot of the Lori Smith patterns. I have one pattern pack which is for nine small quilts all done in pink, cream and brown - 'Cherries, Chocolate and Cream' - and now that I have a nice little collection of pink and brown fabrics, some of these little quilts may be 'on the menu' before too long too.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

more pottery.....

Just a few more photos of pottery I have made, to follow on from yesterday's post.....

Monday, October 31, 2011

'made by me' monday {1}

Hello! I hope you all had a lovely weekend. This weekend I worked at the shop on both Saturday and Sunday along with my friend the lovely Miss Amanda. We spent our working hours in raptures over the new 'Etchings' range by 3 Sisters for Moda which arrived in the shop on Friday. What stunningly gorgeous fabric! As fast as we were cutting it into kits and packs, people were buying them. It truly is a beautiful range, and in three days we have almost sold out of it.

I have always wanted to try dressmaking, or at least specifically to try my hand at making some skirts, and so I have put some of this fabric away for two skirts, one in the greys and another in the lovely aqua colour. Hopefully there will be a post on that soon!

Speaking of things I have made or am planning to make, I thought I would like to have a 'made by me' monday series of posts showing things I have made in the past, or current WIPs and UFOs that finally become FOs! Kind of a way of keeping some photos together in one place and documenting them for posterity!

One of the things I used to do is pottery. I actually took weekly one-on-one classes for five years with an amazing teacher and for that period of time I loved it, and my skills became pretty good. I LOVED working on the wheel; the feeling of moulding and shaping the clay and creating a form simply by the pressure of my hand, and the excitement as something grew and took shape - and the occasional disappointment of it collapsing in a heap! I now have a lovely collection of bowls and vases which I cherish, and my family have lots of different bits and pieces that I made over this period.

These are a few pieces that I have made:

After five years of classes, I decided to take a break for a month or two. In fact, it was 12 months before I felt ready to pick it up again, by which time my fantastic teacher had unfortunately moved away. Sadly, I have not felt the urge to take it up again since; nonetheless, I have found that I can now achieve the same creative satisfaction in other areas, particularly in my sewing, and although precious little of that has been happening lately, I hope to have something to show again soon.

Have a lovely week all, and Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

'working on' wednesday {1}

... in other words, my works in progress that are currently on the go.

I have a few WIPs at the moment, and the progress part seems to be going very slowly! I do find though that my creativity, or at least the actual doing part of my creativity, seems to come in cycles. I find that for a period of time, two or three months usually, that I get really into my craft work (whether or not this means much actually gets finished could be an entirely different matter!) and then I find I do very little for a few weeks. Am I the only one who finds creativity runs like this, or do you find that it happens to you too?

Anyway, here is my first 'working on' wednesday project, a granny-stripe blanket, inspired by the wonderfully talented Lucy at Attic 24. In fact, I had never really learned how to crochet before, but once I started reading Lucy's blog I was inspired to learn and taught myself. This blanket was an early attempt to practice my crochet and I started it in acrylic wool. I wish now I had used pure wool, but I'm sure there is another granny-stripe blanket somewhere in my future which will be wool - and probably in different colours. I do love the colours in this one though for autumn or winter. This one is 3/4 finished, and hopefully will actually be finished in time to be able to use it for next autumn!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

happy thoughts on thursday{1}..... excited!

Hello! Today I thought I would start a 'happy thoughts on Thursday' series as a way of feeling gratitude and appreciation for something that has happened during the week, or for a beautiful photo, or quote, or poem or..... well, you get the idea.

So, over the last week I have felt not just excited, but very grateful and blessed to have received some gorgeous gifts (and it's not even my birthday), and the prizes from two lovely blog giveaways I won recently.

Last Thursday evening (my goodness, where did the week go?!) I had dinner with my gorgeous 19 year old niece (19?! my goodness, where did the YEARS go?!!) and she gave me this lovely little wallhanging which she bought for me, just because she thought I would like it. And I do, I LOVE it.

On Tuesday I met for breakfast with my friends, the lovely Miss Amanda and the lovely Kylie (both of whom I work with at the quilt shop) and Kylie's utterly adorably sweet daughter Cameron. Whilst we were there, Amanda gave me this gorgeous Cath Kidston book which was very kind of her. I know many of us feel a bit of 'Cath Kidston Love' and actually, it turned into a bit of a Cath Kidston week, as you will see.....

I still had a book shop gift voucher from last Christmas which I finally got around to using and I got - you guessed it - a Cath Kidston book, 'Patch!', which I think is a new one. I also bought a Penguin Books 'Pride and Prejudice' mug, which I plan to use for pens and pencils on my desk.

My first giveaway prize which arrived this week and was won on Ballarat Patchwork's Scrap Bag blog, was a kit for this pretty selvedge bag - thank you Emma.

The second was received from Crafty Mermaid, a parcel of sweet goodies which included a Cath Kidston bag which was made from a kit by the obviously-very-talented Ms Crafty Mermaid herself and also some of her pretty handmade cards. It also included a candle and some little kiwi bird fridge magnets which are a cute memento of New Zealand, along with a very nice hand-written note in one of her cards. THANK YOU Ms Crafty Mermaid for your very generous gifts!

Lastly, the new USB cable for my camera arrived and as you can see I can now post photos to my heart's content!

I feel so lucky! Yes, it's been a very exciting week..... and now to finish with just one more photo of something I love:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

magazine love.....

I tried. I really did.

I love my magazines. Anyone who loves magazines will know what I mean: their smooth, glossy covers, the swooningly gorgeous photos, the lovely writing, the sheer tactile joy of a new issue, the wishing and hoping to have a chair/room/house/garden/life like that.

I guess I'm a bit addicted. The I've-got-20-years-of-back-issues-of-Country-Living kind of addicted. And I do often pull out old issues to flick through and savour. But, just lately, something did not feel Quite Right. I would catch a peek out the corner of my eye of their glorious piles in my bookcase, and I would feel a bit kind of ...... squirmily uncomfortable:

that really is a lot of magazines; maybe they are just a whole lot of clutter; do I REALLY need that many magazines?; maybe that's getting to be kind of an expensive hobby;

I tried going cold turkey. But I missed my shiny little friends.

So I tried buying and viewing them online. That's good, right? Cheaper, sometimes a lot cheaper. More up-to-date issues. Less clutter. Maybe a few less trees being chopped down.

Only it was not The Same. Where was the thrill value? To read an article I needed to zoom in and slide the page around, back and forth until I felt dizzy. And, it's a bit hard to feel ridiculously excited about snuggling in bed with a new magazine and a cup of tea when you don't have a laptop and your desktop PC is in the other room.

So now I'm off to read Country Homes and Interiors with a cup of tea and a freshly home-baked bikkie (or two).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

new..... {1}

Pressies in the mail! Well, not really; but doesn't it just feel like that when you have purchased things online and, when they arrive sometime later, it feels like you have just received some lovely gifts - because by then of course you can selectively forget that you actually spent money to buy them!

These arrived this week - some new books and some gorgeous Lily & Will fabric which I was inspired to buy after reading Sherri's post here at A Quilting Life, and after seeing the lovely quilt she made in the same range.

I'm not sure what I plan to make with this fabric yet. In fact, although I love brown in all it's different shades, yellow is one colour that I almost never choose, either in fabric, clothes, or anything for my home. The yellow in this fabric though is just so soft and pretty and kind of snuggly-feeling that as soon as I saw Sherri's quilt, I just wanted one in that fabric for myself!

The books have some lovely projects in them, and I'm looking forward to perusing them thoroughly over the next few days, and maybe posting a few photos of the projects I might think about making.

So, I'm off to do some reading, and I'll see you back here soon!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

still here......

I'm still here, but still having a few issues with uploading photos - namely, that I have a second hand older digital camera, but no USB cord to upload photos to my computer, and it seems that the USB I need is specific this particular model. I had the last lot put on to a CD, but (as I'm pretty new to this stuff, sadly) it seems that the easiest thing to do will be for me to track down a USB cord to buy (or maybe just buy a new camera....). So, I hope to be posting with lots more photos soon!

Edited to add :: Yay! Success! A new USB cord is on it's way.....

Thursday, September 29, 2011

more quilts

We had quite an amazing storm here yesterday - power out for a couple of hours, and the sky turned so dark at around 4:00pm that it was almost as though night had already fallen. Actually I love storms like this - with the rain pelting down, lightning continually lighting up the sky and the thunder crashing around you - I find it quite exciting, and I love this reminder of the power and beauty of Mother Nature.

Poor little Ollie wasn't quite so keen - shaking and jumping with fright at every loud clap of thunder. Lots of cuddles were required!

Above are several quilts tops finished - only one of these has actually been quilted and finished (oops; better get that organised!). They are -

top left: another view of the sampler quilt shown in a previous post

top right: 'Persian Tiles' quilt, pattern designed by Carol Lewis, made in 'Kashmir III' fabrics

bottom left: sampler quilt made with hand pieced blocks, machine pieced sashing, cornerstones and borders

bottom right: '12 Fat Quarter Quilt' designed by Lorna Corcoran and made in the William Morris-inspired 'Morris Workshop' fabric by Barbara Brackman. This one was finished as a birthday gift for my sister.

And hopefully my French Braid quilt will be added to the list of finished quilt tops very soon. Now, to get the quilting organised.....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

french braids

Several weeks ago a few sewing friends and I had a sewing day together, each of us starting or working on a french braid quilt using the 'Petronella' pattern by Blue Willow Designs and using their Rainbow ruler. I used some lovely fabric designed by Holly Holderman for Lakehouse that I had (instead of using a jelly roll which this pattern is designed for), and added in a few extras for variety. Here's a peek ~

I'm really loving how this is coming together. Something I have really noticed lately in my quilting is how my tastes have expanded - from loving mainly just reproduction type fabrics when I started quilting, to now loving lots of different things, and even moving into colours I would never have chosen before. My first completed quilt top (shown below - the borders were put on after this photo was taken and it still needs to go off to be quilted) is in fairly neutral colours and more traditional type fabrics, but I am finding lately that I want to move more into prettier florals and spring colours.

I wonder if this is because I am more confident now in choosing fabrics and putting colour and pattern together, or whether at the moment as we come into spring and summer in Australia I am just feeling the need for prettier colours around me.

In any case, choosing fabrics is always adventure, and so much FUN, and this is my favourite part of my job at the quilt shop, helping customers choose their fabrics and decide on colours.

Well, I'm off to do some more sewing on my french braids, and I'm looking forward to showing you more when it's finished.