Saturday, 17 January 2015

Girlfriends are the best!

Happy New Year, everybody.

I know it's been forever since I posted, suffice to say that 'life' just got in the way. I remain eternally impressed and awed by people like the fabulous Barbara at the Three Cats Ranch who posts every day. Wow, that's some discipline, my friend. Definitely an inspiration.

Not to worry. It is the beginning of a new year so I resolve not to look back, only forward. I will update my profile a little, shortly, but everything else remains pretty much the same. Still quilting, still in Christchurch, still have my amazing fur-babies, Zorro and Lil' Fluff, still studying. I'm on the final stretch toward a MHDM - Master of Hazard and Disaster Management and I still have 17 quilts on the go.

Lil' Fluff

Zorro 'helping' me with the SMC wallhanging

Today, though, I am sewing some nurses scrub tops for my sister to wear at the hospital where she works in the children's ward. I'm using these very bright and bold fabrics from my stash and a Simplicity pattern.


Having spent a long long time away from the machine, getting back in the swing of things is a little taxing. It's also mighty hot outside today - 30 degrees C.  Whew! There is a reason I studied Antarctica as part of my undergraduate degree...

So whilst sweating...and there's not other way to say it...over a steaming machine, the bright light of my day has been the developing conversation between my BFF and I via SMS text.  With every beep of an incoming message alert I am reminded how spectacularly lucky I am to have the friends I do. This one is a fellow quilter and she's been stumped by an old UFO she wants to remake for her Mum's upcoming birthday. I was round at her place on Thursday looking at it and we made a plan. Of course, having a plan and actioning it are two different things.  Here's how our madness has progressed, verbatim...

10.42am today
(BFF to me)   Did you sew yesterday? 

(Me)  Yes. Sewed yesterday. About 60% done. Must finish today.  I expect all your 9 patches and ecru sashing done by today too!

(BFF) OK she says begrudgingly.

(Me)  Good girl. I want to see pictures!

(Me) You wouldn't be missing a sports shop voucher, would you? Found in garden. Thought it might have fallen out of the car when you pulled up the other day.

(BFF)  Not us. Maybe its a sign! Go get that leotard.

(Me)  Leotard?! Pshaw! I'm thinking WE could rock really tight lycra cycling outfits.... Matching ones!

(BFF)  Ohhhh is there enough cash for both of us to get them? Count me in! How about you get yours first and let me know your thoughts!  (unsmiley face)

(Me) (crazy smiley face) It's not a very big voucher but it should cover a few triangles for our girly bits. Wouldn't that be a sight!

(BFF) I am visualising it now. I can't speak for you but I sure can speak for myself and 'it ain't pretty.' I am feeling so distressed that I think I need to watch Oceans 11 and go to my happy place.

(Me)  I have an internal photoshop mechanism I can lend you. No matter how much I eat and how little exercise I do, I think I always look fabulous.'s my denial setting. It's permanently set to deluded.

(BFF) Actually that is true, you do always look fabulous! Let's live by the mantra that 'it's only a number.' xx

some time later....

(Me)  Facings suck. Interfacing the facings sucks too. Oversewing the interfaced facings is stupid. Oh god, I still have the sleeves to inset....  Why did I ever think this was a genius idea!!!! Talk about Labour of Love.

(Me)  AND... So much sweat that I'm now wearing towelling headband. Like McInroe. But without racket or short shorts.  So attractive.

(BFF)  I am sitting in chilly 16 degrees and loving it. Sew at mine if you want to. I'm watching tv. Haha.  Having said that, I do now have 12 x 9 patches. Just need to cut the sashing out.

(Me)  Yay! Good job! Nope, I'll stay put in my puddle but you for the offer. Am getting closer and closer to bagging a fresh pair of undies and putting the freezer for later.

(BFF) Brad AND George in one film. Who thought of that?! Put your jeans in and you have a whole wash happening.

(Me)  Lol. Done!

Hopefully nobody out there in blog-reading land is offended by that recounting. If you are, best tune out 'cause there'll be more where that came from.

I promise to be more productive with my blogging this year. Until next time, here's a view Friday night's sky and happy quilting.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

EPP Kaffe Hexagons

Today's post is to share progress on my current addiction...English Paper Pieced hexagons using Kaffe Fassett fabrics. It all started, as usual, down at my local quilt shop, Stitch, where I was introduced to the Sewline glue pen as a way to short-cut the EPP process. Rather than first basting the fabric round the template, you just glue the edges down. It takes seconds.

So I (finally!) broke into my Kaffe stash. I do love me some Kaffes. So rich and chaotic and bright! It makes me feel good working with these delicious fabrics - they are like a banquet for the soul. I decided not to fussy-cut, instead I barely unfolded the fat quarters, cutting through multiple layers at a time.

Before you know it, you're whip-stitching your hexagons together!

I elected to use a variegated thread as I am too lazy to change thread colours to match the fabrics every time they change. With Kaffe fabrics there are so many colours in each design that the variegated thread works surprisingly well, no matter the colourway.

Essential tools: my side table in the lounge features thread, glue pen, paper template, fabric, thimble, needle, scissors. (I've got some plastic, sticky dots that you stick on your finger in lieu of a thimble but I kept sticking the needle through them and jabbing my finger anyway so I resorted to the good old thimble this time).

My 'pattern' for a queen-sized bed quilt top involves creation of rows of 21 hexagons, made up of groups of 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1 different fabrics. There is randomness but it is organised. This seems to give the eye a place to settle and I like that. Each finished row is sewn to another. Once three rows are together, the papers from the middle row can come out and be recycled. You just need to leave one in at either end, for stability. The glue pen is special in that it leaves no residue on the fabric. I just ease the edges off the paper with my finger and then pop the template out. If I've caught the paper in my stitching, it takes a little tug to get them to release but the paper can still be reused. 

I'm using the curtain in the lounge as my design wall, auditioning finished rows against each other, looking at each row upside down or right side up, against this one and then that, to figure out which configuration I like most. 

In theory, its going to be 21 rows x 21 rows, maybe with a border. Not sure yet. It's a lovely project to be working on during cold winter evenings. 

Lil' Fluff, looking magnificent with a massive winter coat, has taken to sitting on the top of my chair as I stitch. She has expressed her approval of the design wall by not chewing on it or batting the rows with her paws. 

Bye for now, 
Happy Stitching!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Catherine's Hearts Quilt - Oriental Style.

A year ago, or so, one of my best friends, Lisa, expressed how much she loved a demo wall hanging at our local quilt shop, Stitch. It was unusual in that it featured multiple layers of heart shapes on contrasting fabric.  I didn't think much of it at the time but when visiting Stitch again more recently (who am I kidding, its a regular thing!) this time with another friend, Viv, it again came to our notice. And there was a class coming up to teach us how to make it! It just seemed like fate.

Unfortunately Viv could not join us on these dates but two weeks ago Lisa and I braved the winter weather and went to the first session, of two, and got underway. This is a never fail quilt - it looks fabulous in any colorway, and in any combination. Lisa is doing a variation in circles, not hearts, and has gone with a delicious modern combination of contrasting greys and oranges. I saw it laid out on her carpet last night and it looks smashing!  I am so jealous. I have such quilt envy. I felt the same way when she used a mouthwatering combination of pink, orange, red, white and yellow fabrics for the hexy quilt class we did last year. Sigh, she has such a great eye for colour!

Mine is being made from fabrics I already had in my stash, a mix of beautiful oriental fabrics with the contrast being plains. I am very pleased to finally be using these as they have been sadly ignored for far too long. I also unearthed some Oakshott cottons that I am loving the look and feel of with the shimmer of the gold outlines on the oriental fabrics. And, of course, once I use up these stash fabrics I will have room to buy more...

Our quilts will end up being very different but the experience of sewing them together, in class and during the past few weeks, is hugely satisfying and treasured.

As always, there is a lesson in this quilt that can be applied to life in general. For me, I think it is to embrace going slowly. I tend to want to rush things and that is simply not possible on this quilt as machining smoothly around those heart curves takes time (I found this out to my chagrin after speedily sewing some very angular looking hearts that I ended up having to unpick.)  My speed setting is now firmly on the tortoise rather than the hare!

Look! 17 down, only 130+ to go!
Catherine's Hearts Quilt is created by cutting a templated heart shape out of one fabric and laying it over a square of a contrasting fabric. You then cut the back out of the square in a heart shape and sew that on top. Once I've finished sewing the second heart in place I'll slice the blocks in half through the centre of the heart and resew one side to another block, and sew on, and sew on. The other lesson in this quilt is that you cannot plan it - that just does your head in. You have to simply pair up the first plain and the first oriental you come across, or whichever contrast combination you've chosen. It's that mix of randomness that makes it. As a control freak, I find this challenging but ultimately rewarding. I will post a picture of the completed quilt top in the next week or so.

Je pense que je Turning Japanese

Quilting is such therapy!

Lumiere de Noel is a gorgeous French General range in taupe's, creams, whites and reds, that I fell in love with a few years ago. It's a mix of toile pattern and florals. According to The Warp & The Weft, French General's blogthe large floral print is right off of an old quilt they bought in France in 2009 at the flea market in Toulouse. It certainly has an old world essence to it.

Layer cakes are so easy to use it almost feels like cheating.  I've simply sashed each 10" square with coordinating turkey red and taupe fabric from the same designers.  I'm loving the franco/oriental feel - it's rather like a Japanese screen.

The only tricky part was getting those seams to line up - I finally had to resort to (dreaded) pinning.

I've some other French General red fabric that has a motif on it in dark burgundy that I am bordering it with and then it will be done - once I finish snipping all my threads off the back! Fortunately my slippers make a handy catch all as I sit in front of the fire, snipping away with my little Fiskars, whilst watching the baking channel.

Voila! All this in just a weekend.

Farewell Flashy

It is with great sadness I write this post. Three weeks ago my beloved Flash (seen here in the arms of my nephew) used up the last of his nine lives and was killed by a car on a wet Sunday morning.
To say that I am bereft is an understatement, despite still (most gratefully) having Zorro and Lil' Fluff.

Flash was exactly as his name describes; larger than life, exuberant, always showing off, affectionate, demanding, agile, maddening. Perhaps not the super hero his name envisaged but, as brother to Zorro and Lil' Fluff, he was a bit of a clown, outgoing and inquisitive. He loved lolling amongst Forget-me-knots, so much so that he would come inside covered in so many biddy-bids that he looked like he had a case of the measles! He was not a great fan of the brush which was a pity since his fur was abundant and prone to knotting. He adored to be stroked though.

And he loved his plastic water bottle caps. The particularly good ones could be batted around and lost under a piece of furniture within 20 seconds. Others took longer to lose and would be rediscovered noisily at 2am! He was also a lover of nature, particularly small birds and Monarch butterflies - which he liked to catch and bring inside rather worse for wear. (Not to eat, you understand, just to play with!) He loved the rain and would sit outside on the fence until saturated, then come inside to loudly demand to be swaddled and rubbed down with a towel. He loved to photo bomb, especially when I was trying to photograph a quilt. He was never so happy as to be the centre of attention, especially if that meant lying about on someones shoes, and he was a greedy guts who quickly polished off his own food and then went looking for that of his litter mates if they didn't eat their s quickly enough.

Fond of waking me by licking my nose, (once I had immediately gotten up and fed him!), he would happily come back to bed and lay on my bare arm with one paw stretched out toward me and snooze. This was our cuddle time. He liked to be fur to skin. Found to have a heart murmur earlier this year, in February he had a nasty clot that left him momentarily paralysed. He recovered but there was always a concern that he would throw another clot and that, as a result, his life may not be a long one. Sadly, I had no idea it would be as short as it was.

The last time I saw him, we played together with a toy mouse on a stick as he lounged in front of the fire. He purred happily then went outside about 10pm to gad about the neighbourhood and never returned. The next morning, someone left him in the garden next door and our neighbours kindly buried him for us. I have never asked where and I am glad I don't know as, for days afterwards, I was tempted to run and dig him up for one last pliant cuddle. It sounds macabre but he was always so soft and cuddly and I missed him so much, I just wanted one last moment with him. Of course, I realised at the same time that the gentle soul I grieved for was gone and all that was left was a husk, so I did not act on the urge and as time has passed I am able to remember him with fewer tears. The tears are falling as I write this and I will not forget him and the unconditional love we shared. He gave me such pleasure even though, right now, there is such pain. The love of a pet is a wonderful thing. I feel sorry for people that don't understand it and have not had the opportunity to share in both their life and their death, for both are sides of the same coin. I understand now that our furry friends are only ever with us on loan. I am so grateful to have had time with this gorgeous creature. I miss you every day, Flashy.
Another one of Flash's favourites...corn on the cob!

I am also grateful that the Magnificent Mr Zorro (lover, not a fighter) and Lil' Fluff (pee pot, grumpy girl and evil genius in training) continue share my life. They have their own personalities and bring me joy every time I see them. They do not seem overly bothered by Flash's demise and are away on a mini-break at the Cattery whilst we have EQC repairs done on our house. As a result, and the house is cold and lonely without their furry presence. I visited them the other day and they were well settled and relaxed, if not pleased with me. Lil' Fluff actually yelled at me and then went and sulked in her sleeping box, bristling with annoyance. Zorro, whilst periodically distracted by the doves roosting on the roof above their pen, purred loudly and head butted me before climbing up to his perch on a furry rug to keep an eye on those noisy birds. I'm sure he thinks they are very stupid. This week they'll be moving to a room with a view of the garden. They both love to bask in the sunlight and I'm sure the antics of the peacocks, doves, exotic chickens, miniature horses, ducks and geese on the property will keep them occupied - not to mention the numerous cats boarding with them.  I suspect when I finally pick them up in several weeks time that they will miss the menagerie.


Lil' Fluff

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

So much to catch you up on!

This post is all about playing catch up. It's been a while since my last post, so let's get started!
Here's a little project I've been working on. Just the sandwich and the quilting then binding to go.

And here's my friend, Jasmine's, quilt top. She's doing a fab job. More pics to come next term.

We're in year 3 since the deadly quakes of 2010/2011 devastated Christchurch. The third year after a disaster is supposed to be the worst. Clearly we have a ways to go...

There have been some great nights watching the Crusaders kick some rugby butt, even though Ritchie McCaw is not playing yet, this season.

And then today I got to start my own crusade, doing a little preserving. 

 Oh, and check this out. My fabulous big sister managed to find me an elusive but amazing banana passionfruit. YUM!

Have an awesome quilt class coming up at Stitch, made even more fun because I will be doing it with friends, V and L. Cool! I am looking forward to spending some quality time with the girls and learning some new tricks, plus I'll be making inroads into my (cough *not inconsiderable* cough) stash and using up some of those Japanese FQs. Yay, can't wait!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Strawberry leather

Christmas time in high summer means berries, lots of berries!
So many, in fact, that we have a glut of strawberries today so I'm trying out this recipe for Strawberry Leather that I originally saw on Pinterest.  The house is redolent with the scent of oven-drying puree and I could go all Nigella and wax lyrical about their shiny red nose-ness and their sweet, juicy, festivity, but I won't. I simply cannot compete with the Kitchen Goddess. Suffice to say, it's all good.

Hot, hot, HOT!

It is sizzling here


Half Moon Modern Plus quilt...Done!

Yay! 5 x Half Moon Modern charm packs et voila! Just need the borders and that's another quilt top finished.

Flash gives his approval to the reverse side

Friday, 7 December 2012

Love Jelly Roll Racing

Lil' Fluff checks out the back of the Quilt
I've just taken possession of an Elna 5300, my first electronic sewing machine, thanks to the generosity of the late Jean Smith. My Great Aunt was an amazing woman, great in so many ways, and is missed. I'd like to think she'd be pleased with this purchase though!

To celebrate, I tackled a Jelly Roll Race Quilt.  2 x Amy Butler "Love" jelly rolls. 3 hours. Done!
Well, not really done. Now I will 'um' and 'ah' over whether to undo some of the rows to make it more uniform. Then again, the randomness of it is part of the charm. Perhaps I will add some applique on top. Or maybe I will cut it up and incorporate into a different design. Needs borders too.  I have two Amy Butler fat quarters in my stash that I know of, but probably much more. I will have a hunt over the next few days before deciding.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Christchurch EQ damage progress two years on

It's been more than two years since my city was rocked by the 7.1 earthquake that started a horror-run of aftershocks and further big quakes. We lost people. We lost places. We gained resilience. We gained perspective. We have become practiced in tearing down damaged buildings and starting over.