Saturday, 28 January 2012

It pays to read the labels!

On a trip to the UK in 1993 I saw a beautiful plant, just a single stalk, looking so elegant at the back of a flower bed at one of the stately homes I visited.  I found out the name, leonardis something or other, and back home I located it at the garden centre.

I thought it would be perfect in front of the bay window,  so I bought three plants, and two salvia plants - I loved the idea of the richness of deep blue with the orange.  In they went and I was right, the situation was perfect.  The poor salvias didn't survive long, but the orange monsters thrived - and were cut back after flowering - don't they look so neat and tidy!

Then, they took off -

They made for an interesting view out of the window - but did attract bees of all shapes and sizes.

So they were cut back several times and eventually were dug up and transplanted to the garden at the back of the house where they have thrived once again.

That's just one shrub, number two is off to the left and the middle one has not survived the transplant and my later weeding.  I gave some seedlings to a friend and she has had no luck, but see what I noticed recently - I accidentally broke off a piece when weeding, so poked it in the ground -

You can see I'm not an obsessive gardener and that is the dreaded bindweed - would you believe I am saving the seeds of the granny bonnets? but how vigorous is the orange monster.  And on reading the label I found it grows 2m by 2m........  Anyway, the front garden looks like this now -

It is just perfect for reading the paper and browsing the gardening catalogues, g&t in hand!

I have managed to do some sewing in such a busy week, I made the last of the sawtooth blocks of the red/black/white quilt, and put the top together -

Avert your eyes Jenny, she tells me she doesn't do 'random'.  Well this layout has some assistance from the wind.   Recently we have had some weird weather but one day was very warm, so I had the sewing room door wide open, and very windy so the blocks were scattered around a couple of times.

I have earmarked a black self patterned fabric for the binding and am presently piecing all the left over strips as part of the backing.  Three quilts using the same fabric is enough for me!

I went back to the Dowse this afternoon, had a coffee and another look at some of the exhibitions I mentioned earlier.

"Living Halls" by Fiona Jack is so interesting.  It comprises 49 paintings.  After WWII halls were constructed as memorials to honour soldiers killed in action rather than traditional memorials as were built after WWI.  They are complex spaces built by communities to symbolise their grief but also to solve a practical need for a place to gather for everything from dancing to voting.

Here are two of the paintings that particularly appealed to me -

And this one

I have finished hand quilting the Wonky Hexagons, now to chose the binding, then it's on to the baby quilt - think I shall use embroidery thread and big stitch as the backing is flannel, then I need to pin the next sandwich to machine quilt and stop looking for patterns for the Shut-in Stitchers because I keep finding things I want to try!  I did get some bargains at Spotlight, mainly pinks and purples, which are drying on the line as we speak.

Lots I want to share with you, but that's enough for today; maybe I should concentrate on small and often........  and wouldn't you know, the diary tells me "Lost time is never found again".....

Nice talking with you

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Golly Gosh!

This block is one of the delights of a woollen quilt I bought several years ago from a second hand shop in the Hutt.   All they could tell me was that they got it as part of the contents of a farmhouse in Hawkes Bay.

When they were small, my granddaughters thought this was a spaceman.

The whole quilt, actually not a true quilt as there is no lining, is backed with what appears to be curtaining fabric.

I would say it was a kitset but the maker then added a couple of embroideries of her own - one is this kiwi!

There is also a Father Christmas -

 Together with a Christmas tree, decorations and presents -

And the last two I want to show in detail are a dutch girl -

And lastly a little doll of a girl -

So here's the whole thing - I do wish I knew more about who made it and who was it made for.....

It was featured in the New Zealand Quilter magazine some time ago and we so hoped someone who knew about it would see it and get in touch.  Anyway, it has found a good home with me!

I have found time to do some stitching.  I finished piecing the red/black/white blocks, went through the scraps to piece one more and am presently sewing them together - the wind blew many of them off the design wall so they really will be totally random when joined as well as when constructed!

There had to be one mistake, didn't there -

and I did unpick and correct it.

This is a pleasant block to piece, I use the method of making flying geese with the large square and four small ones.

In my tidying up and scrap sorting by size to start with  - I'm not sure if I can face colour sorting as well at this stage, I came across a pile of small squares - obviously samples because they are all plaids and stripes.  I have vague recollections of getting them, possibly on one of my trips to the UK when my nieces took me to some bargain type places.

Anyway, I love using squares and am at present wondering about a sixteen patch with an unpatched plaid..........

Just an idea, but it has possibilities.........

Oh, and to close please some assistance - what is this plant?  it's another bird borne freebie.

I thought at first it was borage, but has no strong scent to the leaves - I had to prop up the flower as its natural position is bending over.  Isn't it lovely?

The evening is young yet and I intend to continue hand quilting, the end is in sight, and I have many TV programmes on the hard drive to watch and skip through the adverts - that way I get to watch several programmes in the one evening.

I think I shall look elsewhere for some quotes, my Girl Guide diary is somewhat uninspirational - and not particularly funny either!  Today it reminds us that "Success requires pains and brains".

Nice talking to you, and welcome to my new followers.


Friday, 13 January 2012

Forgotten decoration and Carlucci Land

How could I have missed it?  Every year I find at least one decoration left behind when I pack them up, this year would be different I decided, I would be methodical, go room to room.  The cartons sat neatly tied for a couple of days and then my son came round and offered to put them up in the roof space.

This entails moving the cabinet in the hallway - first removing the lamp and other ornaments, key container etc. and putting them into my nearby bedroom while the ladder is lowered.  Then everything is put back - including this which I had put on my dressing table in the first part of the exercise!  It is now on top of the wall cupboard in my little office - remind me  in December where I put it please!

I went to the cinema this week, to The Empire, in Island Bay.  It's been ages since I went over to that part of Wellington so new to me is Carlucci Land and these amazing  - er, installations?

 On the other side of the road was this monster -

The main part of the park is fascinating too, big rock climbing areas and this part that reminded me of Middle Earth -

The children we could see from the road looked to be having great fun.
We saw Tin Tin, in 2D as I get vertigo trying to cope with 3D - and I loved the film, a real romp.

Much of my time this week has been spent trying to get order into my sewing room with the result that I can hardly get in the door now.  There has been much internet talk on organising the scraps, but where do I start?  A few years ago it was easy, pop the scraps into baskets, they look so attractive lined up on top of the cupboards.....

I could have sworn I kept to a different colour in each basket - at least there is one of solids

at the time I thought it a good idea to buy some plastic stackable storage boxes - with wheels so they can be moved easily

At least I can see what is inside them, unlike the solid baby bath type of container - oh dear, there are more of those under the table

Not quite all scraps, the one on the right is actually full of fabrics put aside for backs of the tops already made - always supposing I can remember which goes with which - but also the bindings -

In the top corner of this last picture you can see a partially empty plastic container, it is large and shallow. one of a pair I bought to put under the bed to store clothes etc.  They have been emptied and I thought would be  good receptacles for the scraps from the baskets - the job was taking a long time - but I did have some company -

I shall have to rethink, I feel as though I am rearranging the deck chairs..........  I need a proper system.....

I recorded the film Julia and Julie and have started watching it, well Julie has challenged herself to do something each day.......... maybe I could stretch it out a bit, make it each week - a basket of scraps a week, sorted and reduced to set sizes?  Squares and/or strips all ready to go on the next quilt?

Like this block, which I think has potential!  Two oblongs of patterned fabric, each with two squares of, in this case, calico on top; pinned and diagonals marked on the calico -

Sew on the diagonal, flip the calico aside as needed, then sew another seam about half an inch or so away

Cut off the half square triangles and join the pieces into a zig zag.

Rows could be good, contrasting hot and cold colours maybe; or black and amish........ and the little half square triangles could make a border.........

We are back into the prison in the morning, I shall have to have two alarms - one on the chest of drawers well out of reach I think.

And our thought, how true, "A word of encouragement is a fine tonic".  Thank you for reading my blog and giving me words of encouragement.


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Summer? and more tidying up

Everywhere I look these days I see the beautiful pohutukawa trees, and the local primary school has adopted it for a logo - how appropriate.

It is indeed an emblem of summer, though since the beautiful weather we had on Christmas Day, it has been a trifle cooler and then wet yesterday - my fault, I watered the garden the evening before!

The last time we spoke I was struggling to make sense of a mish mash of blocks that I had unearthed on one of my dives into the storage drawers.

When I found them, they looked like this -

The basic idea is good, sashed four patch blocks in sizes that would fit the end I managed to make a sort of order -

Squinting at it improves the overall effect!!  If I put some polar fleece on the other side, the cats will love it!

In the same drawer was a pile of blocks and the pieces to make more, it is of a definite colour scheme, red/white/black - I showed a top I made earlier as a sort of strippy, not sure how I shall put these together.

I just love the way the block looks so different depending on where the light and dark fabrics are placed - if you remember, this block was one that my friend Yvonne from Picton showed me [how long ago Yvonne?] you cut all four pieces from each fabric you plan to use, label them a,b, c & d and put them into different bags.  Then you shake the bags and take out one piece from each and these are the one that go to make your block.  Totally random - and if I picked out the same fabric for piece a and d, well that was the luck of the draw.........

There are twenty five blocks on the wall, and fifteen more waiting to be stitched - maybe sashing with sort of stars for cornerstones, or an alternate block - snowball?.......... and while I am working this one out, what shall I do with all the little squares which are two patch blocks at present, from using them as starters and enders.

The carton is quite deep - I have already made one large quilt from these blocks which I showed some time ago;  I am leaning towards 'square in a square' using a plain fabric and a tartan - then staggering the setting............

I have been watching dvds while I sew, both musicals - in the lounge I wallowed in La Vie en Rose, the life story of Edith Piaf - what a terrible childhood she had! I just love her voice - hey ho, ITunes, here I come!

In my sewing room I've been watching "Carmen Jones" with Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Bellafonte, made in 1954 - my, how time flies!  I had the lp, my kid brother and I bought an electric record player  to share which was in constant use.  I found I was still word perfect!

I'm not quite sure when these vintage fabrics were made, probably about then -

The fabric is a shiny polished cotton with that lovely crisp feel - and you thought black and white and lime green was a modern combination!

This next piece is a quilt pattern on its own!

Thank you for your comments and emails, the thought today isdesire" "For the thing unknown there is no desire- or another version, "What the eye doesn't see the heart doesn't grieve over" - or maybe not!

Nice talking with you

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Teapots and tidying up

How's this for a teapot tree?  I couldn't resist the look of these in another great Jackson Street shop, Coffee Creation - I really couldn't justify another teapot, though I am very tempted by the look of the orange pot with the metal lid and how about some of their other crockery?

You couldn't be down in the mouth looking at these - and I did get some good advice about the kind of coffee that might suit me, and it does.  They have lots of other goodies, teas galore and nibbles too.

I am getting into the very bad habit of late to bed and late to rise but I did get up early Friday morning to get my nails done -

I found it so difficult to photograph my own hand - see the pinky waving with the effort?  Anyway, it's in an attempt to encourage strength in the nails and stop the splitting - having paid good money for this result I will put gloves on when doing the dishes and gardening.  No more of this hanging out the washing and oh dear, look at the weeds, I'll just grab a handful or two........

There's been quite a bit of talk lately on Kiwiquilters [the online quilting group] about tidying the sewing room, getting things organised etc. which I also do from time to time.  One day I came across a pile of half rectangle triangles that a friend had given to me.........  I started playing with them and making them into blocks -

Some I kept separate and sashed them, others I joined - without having to be precise -

I then put them all together, sort of flowing the colours across the top, and used up the last of the hsr in the border -

At the moment it is the photo I use for wallpaper on my computer - so I can enjoy the many favourite fabrics in it!

When last I posted I was working on the second rectangle of vintage plus pale blue after I cut far too much up into three and a half inch strips - well that is a complete top

It fought against every border I tried, so it doesn't have one; I have also pieced a back plenty large enough in case the situation changes.......

The day before yesterday I found a pile of fabric, can't really call them blocks.  A sort of "what on earth was I thinking of" pile  - I remember making them, four patches in several sizes and they were supposed to fit together............. however they break my now golden rules of scrap quilts which must either have good strong dark/light contrast or stick to a colour scheme - see what I mean

What a mish mash!!  But I am too mean to throw them away - and no, the women in the prison would not be interested! so I shall attempt to put them together somehow.  Watch this space!

I have been indulging in my Jane Austen dvd collection.  I love the Sense and Sensibility film with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant, then I watched Andrew Davies' BBC adaptation which was different but just beautiful and I loved the settings.  I am now almost finished watching another BBC production, dramatised by Alexander Baron which, imho, falls far short of the other two.  Of course, this now means I shall have to re-read the book!

Harking back to my comment about throwing away the four patches, the thought for today from my diary is, "Waste is a crime."   Maybe I paid more attention to these saying than I realised!

 Great talking with you.  Thank you for the encouraging comments.