Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year!

One of my collection of pincushions, not exactly practical for size and I'm constantly jittery in case it gets knocked off the table so it's more or less an ornament but attractive to be the header on my blog for this new year, 2013 - wow!  Remember all the fuss about the year two thousand? which surely was only a year or two ago.....

Once more I shared the evening with my family, great BBQ and salads but eaten indoors.  Windy Wellington lived up to its name, the proposed fireworks display was cancelled because of the wind and the fear that people could be harmed.

We enjoyed a film, Anonymous, which had me furiously wracking my brains to remember English history and marvelling that anyone survived the conditions of the days of the first Queen Elizabeth.  It's the story of William Shakespeare sort of, did he really write everything? and what about the great power of the monarchy and the ministers.  Echos there in the present day of various countries.....

And now, back to quilting and the one I want to share with you today is the one I referred to as The Marriage Quilt - here it is with the border on  correctly.  All the blocks were made from various vintage fabrics where the actual pattern was in stripes.

When it was finished - and I will be making the setting triangles smaller when I bind it - when?,,,,,
I found I had several blocks that didn't make it into this top, probably because I just went ahead cutting and piecing various sizes, so I started putting them together -

The sun on the design board means it's about 4.30 in the afternoon......

Decided on a bit of order in diagonal lines - and of course there had to be one with a patterned setting..

There had to be uniformity of a sort, at least as far as size is concerned.  I did enjoy myself digging through the scrap baskets to find something that spoke to me.....

And here it is all sewn together, and here's a couple of close-ups showing one square that was the standard size

And this one with a border made from a favourite blouse I bought when I was in Picton about forty five years ago, I needed a long sleeve blouse to protect me from the sandflies!

I had such fun making these two tops and if I have made any new year resolution it would be to concentrate on the positive; no beating myself up about making another top before I have made them all into quilts.  It gives me pleasure and harms no-one...

And wow, the quote for today is, "Whatever you are by nature, keep to it never desert your line of talent.  Be what nature intended you for and you will succeed." by Sydney Smith

Thank you for your comments, they mean a great deal to me.
Talk again soon

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Seize the Day!

Happy Holidays everyone - and here's my Angel to provide the music.

My apologies for the long break between posts, I got quite a surprise when I was checking on my favourite blogs to see that mine was last added to two whole months ago!

How time flies when you're having fun.........  You don't need all the details, suffice to say that twenty four hours after I last posted I was back in hospital, I've accepted my situation and am just getting on with things.  We have the meds sorted and the side effects have lessened; I have more energy and am learning patience!!

My Angel was started, we think in the early eighties! at a class taken by Trish MacLeod who was President of the Wellington Embroiderers' Guild and later head of the evening embroidery classes at Wellington High School.  This doll has been languishing in a carton in my sewing room until I found her when tidying up.  I still stitch with a friend, Jann, who also went to the same class, so I challenged her to finish her wooden spoon masterpiece.

Here's the rear view showing her beautiful wings, the unfaded hair ! and her two companions!

You see Jann had started not only the blonde one but also the dark haired one - here they are in a row.

So generous Jann gave the dark haired head to our friend Jan who then made the rest, Jann completely re-designed hers and Jan took my pieces away, it was all finished, just needed the wings and mandolin stitched on which she did for me.  It was my choice not to put a face on, a la Amish -btw that's a ping pong ball for a head.

I also wanted to share with you the two quilts I made for my granddaughters when they were quite small,  quickly made using the Mile a Minute technique, or crumb quilt or wonky log cabin as they are often called these days.

Purple and pink of course, with batting and polar fleece as a backing, great for snuggling up under.

Molly wanted something similar, but asked for more blue - which was great because I was running low on pink and purple.

Not great works of art, but great fun to make and they have certainly been used.

A recent donation was made for the Shut-in Stitchers in the prison of off-cuts, and as usual I ask permission in case there is anything we can't use, to pass the fabric onto someone else - I've never yet been refused but think it sensible to ask.  The pieces were sort of wedge shaped - so first I had great fun making a sort of rail fence -

You can see the pieces were perfect for this pattern and I found a good blue from my stash for the border, I then gave the top to the woman in the Wellington Guild who organises the making of quilts for various charities and community needs.

And why didn't I think it appropriate to take it into Arohata - well, look at the detail -

I hope you are all enjoying the break from routine, this year we spent the day with my son and his family instead of all coming to my place - we had a great time together - but hey, for those of you who don't live in Wellington what a surprise it was to have such very hot weather - for us that is.  28C just doesn't happen here, the hottest Christmas Day since 1935 and all thanks to the hurricane I think.  Perfect weather for the ham, salads and BBQ on the menu - that's after all the nibbles my DIL and granddaughters made - and later there was Christmas cake, florentines and mince pies - all home made, my DIL is an amazing cook, what a lovely, lazy day I had.

I have taken this quote from the blog written by Tim Latimer - a prolific buyer of old tops which he then hand quilts.

Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.”
~ Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), American president. Presidential message (December 25, 1927).
There's much more I want to share, I have pieced a couple of tops - a little at a time, and am working on some hand quilting.  

Talk again soon

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Winter bugs and Spring gardens

Nothing says spring to me like the beautiful kowhai tree and this is the baby, self seeded version - far too close to the edge of the flower bed but it's in a quiet corner so it will stay.

The blossoms almost look too big for the branches and the tuis have left them alone......

Winter bugs, well I've had a doozey which is why I have been unusually quiet  - but the upside is that my 'charity' dollars will be going to the Wellington Free Ambulance......  and my grateful thanks to my wonderful family and friends  ..........

And I can take this opportunity to share some of my garden type quilts because the five inch squares I collected for many years comprised many, many floral fabrics.

This one is the block called Exquisite [I think] and the method is so simple, each five inch square needs two two and a half inch squares of a contrasting fabric which are placed on opposite corners and, using the sew and flip technique, give the shape needed -

Never one to waste an opportunity, I then sewed a second seam a scant half inch away towards the corner and so made a small half square triangle, ready for another project.

You can see the line drawn - and probably that the top right small square has slipped a little - I recommend straightening that if it happens to you!

So here's the top that resulted -

  It's a little squiffy on the design board but you can see that I attempted to put flowers of similar colourings together and then reversed the greens and florals to make a 'border'.

Even managed to get a butterfly in the garden!

Having made this top, you can imagine I had a large number of small half square triangles, so I started playing with them in nines.  Any one of these little blocks could be duplicated and then rearranged by turning on one corner, or putting in rows - all the same orientation or alternated etc. etc.

There's a row of arrowheads, or a loch ness monster - spin it on one corner for a larger block.......

And the same for this one, so many possibilities with half square triangles!!

I found another block, called Maze, where you use three half square triangles in a row, put a light fabric on one side and a dark on the other.  Well I had greens and florals, so I adapted the pattern to make this top -

Very busy but then that's what a spring garden is - you can see the detail here -

and here -

This evening I shall settle down with a glass of red wine [now I am no longer taking antibiotics!] and have a good read of the blogs I have missed lately.  I also missed going into the prison for the last three weeks - never happened before, so I shall be way behind there but looking forward to catching up next Saturday.

How appropriate is this quote for today, "There are never enough 'I love yous' by Lenny Bruce or I thank you - that's my thought!   So a big thank you and I love you to my family and good friends.....

Nice talking to you

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Colourwash, cafe & My Choice

Today I had lunch at the botanic gardens cafe, Picnic, and if you are ever in Wellington I can heartily recommend it.  Just look at the setting -

This was taken looking through the rose gardens to the glasshouse, and at the left you can see the tent like roof of the cafe.  Lots of room inside and out - the weather was perfect.  Ducks and ducklings were busy in the grass and the artificial pond - with a lovely notice telling humans not to pick them up or handle them and to please stay away from the ramp out of the pond as it was their only way out!

I walked for miles! and it quickly became apparent that I have been spending far too much time this winter at my sewing machine or my computer - even if the expanding waistline hadn't already made me aware of this!

The tulips have had a bit of a bashing with the recent rain but the colours are still just so lovely -

I walked up the top of the hill to the herb garden and then back down to the Rose Garden and couldn't resist photographing lots more - just one to share, a stand of flax with the sun behind - so I marbled it!

I can see a quilt with those colours.......

Talking of quilts, Thursday was the opening of the Wellington Guild Exhibition being held at the Academy of Fine Arts. Queens Wharf.  It is open 10 to 5pm until 7th October and is well worth a visit - this is not unbiased of course!

I have the honour to be a Life Member of the Guild and so get an extra bonus in that I am able to choose a quilt to receive my award.  Utterly subjective, I just pick the one I wish I had made, or know I never will or that I want to take home with me; I admit a leaning towards vintage fabrics and hand quilting, but none of these things is set in concrete.

The quilts were hung, the judges had done most of their much more serious judging and I, along with the other Life Members, had our turn.  Later that evening it was such a thrill for me to present the award  to Kay Bruce Smith for her entry, No. 104 "2760+ Hexagons - A+B" - and here it is -

I'm sure the rest of the prize winners will be shown on the Guild's website if you are interested. 

 "Men always want to be a woman's first love - women like to be a man's last romance." - who else but that old cynic, Oscar Wilde - but as always, holding a lot of truth.......

Thanks for stopping by

Saturday, 22 September 2012

A bear, a bag and some blocks

But first, this glorious euphorbia!

I do hope it will enlarge ok because I am astonished by the intricacy of the flowers.  Aren't they amazing?

And an apology for letting the days gallop by without taking myself in hand and just sitting down at the computer to write!

Anyway, I'm here now on this sunny Sunday afternoon; I went into the garden to put some cardboard boxes into the boot of the car ready to take to the recyclers tomorrow, noticed a whole lot of weeds in between the stones where the rain had flooded last week, so stopped to pull out a couple........

Several broken nails later and an aching back I have come inside to enjoy a cup of tea and decided now would be a good time to chat with you.

I now share my bed - with a large bear!

He is very soft and cuddly, even has a squeak in one paw and was shared by my granddaughters when they were little.  He has an interesting history; when my late husband was in the Mary Potter Hospice for the final week of his life, they allowed me to room with him....... and one night one of the wonderful nurses suggested I have a lavender bath before bed and when I returned to the room, there on the bed was Aloysius!  She said they kept him for the family when they needed special comfort.

Then some weeks later I visited a friend's house and was amazed to see "Aloysius" on her couch - well this bear was waiting for an operation on the stitching and a friend of my friend owned the shop where these bears lived before being adopted out!!

When Sharon [the shop owner] heard the story she insisted that Aloysius just had to come home with me, wasn't that a lovely thing to do.  And why is he now back on my bed you may ask? well I am tidying the spare bedroom, always known as "The girls' room" and with help from these same girls, now young ladies, I am having a clear out - many soft toys were  passed on to the Op Shop, but Aloysius just moved rooms.

Among the toys to be tidied - and what a trip down memory lane that is turning into - was a set of wooden blocks.  You know the kind where there is a different picture on each of the six sides.  This particular set must be fifty years old and was used for building blocks when the novelty of the pictures, and some of the paper, wore off.

And the bag - well I mentioned I was making one for Molly, the younger of my two granddaughters and she chose the fabric from my stash.

Real street art!  She didn't want a pocket on the outside, there are several inside - the the little notebook cover was made by Jan who recently taught this bag for Pinestream Quilters - I made one for myself as her guinea pig and when Molly admired it, we have made one for her too.  I have to say 'we' because Jan gave me a great deal of help and I will give Molly her bag tomorrow.

And now, just to prove that I am still stitching, I finished the Mountain Garden and took it along to the Wellington Guild meeting and today I made a sandwich of the top my granddaughters made by drawing onto calico - thought I'd better get a move on before too much time passes!  I intend to use it as a curtain over the back door, not for warmth  as it's double glazed, but for privacy as the bathroom door is opposite.

Here's another block from my Five Inch Squares class to share with you.  The quilt was called Give and Take and was in a rather old Quilters' Newsletter Magazine, I made some changes and the block is perfect for the squares.

It's the usual method of putting the two strips right sides together, mark the diagonal, sew two seams for the extra half square triangle, but it's the large one that goes into the quilt.  As it's quite chunky, I tried slicing it down the centre and rejoining - that's the bit at the bottom.  I think it could make an interesting border......

And the quilt - the pattern is all in the placement of the colour values of this one simple block.

I love the dragonfly border - chosen by - who else, my granddaughters!

This is so true - "Those truly linked don't need correspondence, when they meet again after many years apart, their friendship is as true as ever:" by Deng Ming-Dao

Or am I feeling guilty because I haven't contacted my family for ages.....

Nice chatting with you

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Sick sewing machine & Almost Argyle

I have to admit it's beautiful, though I wish it were any colour but pink!

Now that I have had some awful weedy large shrubs taken out, the smaller camelia bushes are doing so well.

And the orange monsters, the rosemary, pineapple sage and the euphorbia I asked about recently ensure that the garden is not wholly pink.

I want to share with you another block that is part of my five inch squares class.  I found it in an old magazine, the method used was to make templates of each of the pieces, so I looked for another way.  Here are the steps I took -

The block is to the right at the top, the plan to the left - simple isn't it?  Just one point to remember, the five inch squares are put on top of one another with the right sides up; cut through both on the angle prescribed, swop pieces and resew - as shown at bottom left.

Then put the resewn pieces, again with right sides up, and light fabric over dark, cut again on the same angle, swop and resew.  Take care to ensure the pieces meet in the centre and then square off the block.

I decided to put mine inside another square so the pointy bits were up and down, then I looked for borders -

but I eventually decided on a stripey batik but I did drop the blocks, I thought it looked almost like argyle socks, hence the name.

I also tried joining four into a large block and like the effect -

When you make the first cut and resew, the resulting little block can be used, trimmed to a square, like this -

and this one goes together well, it's a good basic boy quilt -

though probably with a slightly less girly border.  If you use a sharper angle for the cut, you end up with a different effect -

I hd a great stitching day yesterday with friends, and have made good progress with the bag for my granddaughter - and then my machine gave an almighty crack and froze!  It is a little old Elna Lotus I bought years ago when I was an agent for a company making embroidery kit sets.  I used to pop the machine behind the driver's seat in the car, pile in my container of sewing supplies so that I was ready to get to work as soon as the shops closed.  I rearranged my motel room to accomodate the machine and iron and a space for cutting, and off I went!

I realised I hadn't had it serviced for years but my local repair man is quite sure he can fix it.

I did some tidying up recently and came across a receipt, so twenty five years ago - yoiks! - on October 10th 1987 I bought some embroidery threads at The Silver Thimble, in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.   I wonder if the shop is still there.

My quote today, so appropriate after the great time we had yesterday - "A friend is someone who sees through you and still enjoys the view.  Wilma Askinas

Nice talking with you, and welcome to my new follower

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Bird, beach and birthdays

How's this for trust?  That's my late husband's hand - found the old photo and couldn't resist sharing it.

The days have been rushing by - you know how it is sometimes, one's best laid plans can go out the window so easily.  I've never been one to turn down an offer of lunch, or a coffee - or a plea for help for that matter........ and so the days pass.

I've been toying with the idea of making a family photo quilt - as though I didn't have enough ideas to keep me busy! - so I had a go at printing onto fabric - I think I need more practice -

The lady on the left is my mother when she was in her mid twenties I think and the one on the right is of me and big sister - I'm with my back to the camera in case you wondered!  We were  playing on the sea defences of one of the 'big houses' right on the beach [we lived on the south coast of the UK] and this would have been taken just before the start of WWII; the beaches were closed for the duration.  I'm sure my sister would love to be immortalised in this way!

Now the next photo is another of my son - similar to the one I took of him recently at Lake Ferry but this was many years ago on a family holiday on Norfolk Island.  If I still did serious embroidery this would be an interesting subject, come to that I've seen quilts made like this......

Taken I think at Slaughter Bay........

I have been doing some stitching, knitting too more of the peggy squares, and have finally finished another flimsy that I pieced in the nineties when I was living in Whitby and stitching with friends, the same time that I made the Ikat in the Contrary Wife pattern.

For this one we agreed on the Delectable Mountain block, any size and colour but it had to have some of a fat quarter we bought to share - this was one of the series produced by the Smithsonian to celebrate - not sure what, so here is my piece of the fabric - it's the very dark grey, almost black next to the deep purple.

You can see here the whole block; I used a constant fabric in the small triangles - another one I bought for dressmaking; it was to have been a summer skirt.  I didn't want the points to be too stark so used soft colours with another constant in the square at the top, which was hand dyed in a manner that made me think the maker had used the fabric to mop up the splashes!

That's not meant as a criticism, I love the fabric!

I also love the batik I used for the setting triangles - how lucky was that to have it in my stash!

At this stage I hadn't finished the hand sewing of the binding but took advantage of a visit by my granddaughter who held it up for me.

One thing I have found since I had to reduce the size of the photos I use is that they load far faster - duh! but it makes a big difference to the time taken to produce the blog - should be able to do so more often......

I get funny looks in stores when I take photos of odd things, but this marble app is so much fun -

So to finish today, it is appropriate that I share my little bundle of daffodils

and leave you with this quotation from Brittany Murphy, "Everybody has difficult years, but a lot of times the difficult years end up being the greatest years of your whole entire life, if you survive them."

Is that what one would call cold comfort?

Thanks for stopping by and for your comments, they mean a lot!