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.

Loulouthi Hexagons

I so enjoyed making my Botanika Hexagon quilt, the secrets of machine piecing hexagons having been passed on during a fabulous class at Stitch, I have already started sewing my next hexagon project. This one uses Anna Maria Horner's stunning Loulouthi collection and will be queen sized whereas the Botanika project was only for a single bed.
Loulouthi features such a diverse range of fabrics that it really suits these big hexagons. Loving it! Watch this space for more quilt activity - I plan to quilt up a storm between now and Christmas.

Speaking of which, I was out picking up some presents last week when I found this great reusable shopping bag which comes with its own chalk pen. You write on the outside of the bag whatever you need to get, to make sure you don't forget any items. I look forward to using it...just as soon as Zorro lets me.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Three close shaves

It's that time of the year again when my three furry friends have to go to the vet for an annual check up and a bit of a groom. In my defence, I never wanted persians. I had my heart set on british blue shorthairs. But then these gorgeous bundles of fluff came into my world and I was lost. How could I resist them? Well, I couldn't, so I didn't. First came two, Zorro and Flash, followed a little later by their sister and litter-mate, Lil' Fluff.

Two years on they are big and gorgeous and fluffy. Very fluffy. Persians are a lot of work and with work and study they don't get the grooming they need. The result: fur balls.  Since  I didn't train them to enjoy the grooming process from birth, they are resentful and put up quite a fight if I try to groom them now (not surprising). So, with fur balls growing like topsy amongst their luxuriant coats, a trip to the vet was in order. I told them it was to the hair dresser and to think of it a bit like a spa day - teeth, nails, hair (and a quick vaccination).

Here they are, milling about, looking for breakfast. Still none the wiser.

5 minutes later. Still looking, still none the wiser.  From here, it looks like their coats are gorgeous too. Trust me, appearances can be deceiving!

Uh oh. The penny has started to drop... something is afoot!

Voila! Back home again that night and Lil' Fluff is now Lil' Lion. 

The boys, being super heroes, are both sporting capes. That's Zorro at the back and Flash in the foreground.
I shall leave the last word to Zorro who has decided the difference between him and his litter-mates is that he makes this look good. 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Botanika Hexy

(WARNING: image-heavy post follows)

I'm so excited about this quilt that I'm showing it to you before it's even had a good press! (Please forgive).  I fell in love with this fabric (Paula Prass's Botanika for Michael Miller) a while ago and when I got the chance to learn how to machine-piece hexagons at a Stitch class, my local, I decided it was the perfect fabric for me to use.  Even better, best friend, Lisa, was attending the class with me - her first - and she'd chosen a gorgeous array of red/orange/mustard coloured stash fabrics for her project. They looked amazing on the floor when we laid them out and just as fabulous sewn up!

Before we got to class, we needed to cut the shapes out using a perspex template. This was made much easier by the use of a 'lazy-Susan' circular cutting board. Genius! Next, we needed to mark a quarter inch point in from each point of the hexagon. It was just easier to rule a quarter inch line on each of the eight sides, again with the use of the nifty circular cutting board plus a ruler and a pen. (TIP for next time: I found out later that you can get these 'Frixion'-brand pens from the local stationery shop that work just like normal ink pens but, when you iron the fabric, the ink line disappears. The ink reappears if you put it in the freezer.)

The class began on a Sunday morning amid driving rain - perfect for sewing in the warm, friendly Stitch workroom. We chain-pieced the hexagons which had been sorted into rows - my fabrics are not in perfect order but I had already decided I didn't want to randomly place them as I'd fussy-cut the Wingstudy fabric hexys and wanted them to be distributed evenly throughout.

The rows were sewn 2 x 2 on the least 'stretchy' side, to provide stability, before being sewn into a complete row of 10 hexagons.  I found it easier to keep an eye on progress by pinning the finished rows to the wall. Like I said, my order is not perfect, and I completely forgot they would be offset when the rows were sewn together, but it all worked out.

Once I had sewn six rows (this is only a single bed quilt), it was time to offset them and sew two rows together, flipping and starting/stopping between the marked points. One row needs to be higher than the other before you start - you can't just line up two rows and sew along them from one end to the other, oh no, it was Y-seam time! Our fabulous teacher, Penny, emphasised the importance of getting the first two points correct, something many of us in the class found out the hard way when we suddenly found we had 'pouches' in our rows. Still, what's a learning experience without a little reverse quilting (unpicking!) That's one of the things I love about the sewing process, there's nothing that can't be undone/fixed.  

Very quickly the six rows were pieced, and my fear of Y-seams a thing of the past. And check out this cute little block that is formed on the back when you iron. Love it!

I decided to add a couple of narrow boarders around the pieced hexagons, to frame them, before using the lovely large-scale lavender floral in a wide outer border. Hmm....should I quilt now and bind, or could it do with another boarder first? 

Yes, decided another boarder was needed. Et Voila! 

Et ici
(Notice Flash photo bombing yet another pic!)

I'm very pleased with the way it came out. I learned a lot by taking the class, as well as getting a lot done in the six hours, and I'll apply all this to my next hexagon quilt; a queen-sized one already cut out and waiting in the wings - this time using Anna Maria Horner's fabulous Loulouthi pattern. 

(Gratuitous shot of Flash 'assisting' with cutting and marking).

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Twenty One Squared

I have to tell you about my friend, Gabe. She is the reason I am getting back into my quilting and I'm delighted about it!

I sort of decided not to do any quilting this semester what with work and study being the priority. Plus, when I quilt I do it on the dining room table and like to leave it all out for days on end - not an entirely practical option.   So everything has been packed away and the only sewing-related activity has been the parcels of fabric that have periodically turned up - like magic - every few weeks.  (I can't think how this happens but I thank Trademe and Etsy for each and every one!).

But I digress.  Gabe decided to make her best friend a quilt to celebrate her 21st birthday and came to me for some tips and ideas. Now, several months later, her very first quilt is on the home stretch and it looks fantastic. It is made up of 21 squares (20 on the front in a 4 x 5 grid, and one big 'card' one on the back). Each square features a fabric that describes some aspect of their friendship. It is bordered by the most amazing neon green and Gabe bravely chose a variegated thread to quilt the top - in a vibrant mix of yellow, green and orange - and a gorgeous raspberry extra-wide backing. I'm sure her friend will be thrilled. There is something very special about being able to wrap yourself in a quilt made with love.

Viv, Gabe's mum, has kept us stocked up with homemade baking as we sprint for the finish and try and get the machine quilting finished today. The birthday girl turns 21 in a week so that doesn't leave much time for the binding to go on, but it will be enough!

Of course, Flash couldn't resist trying the baking basket out for size... He is such a show off!

So, thank you Gabe for getting me back into the swing of things and for reminding me that if there isn't thread on the floor, offcuts on the cat, bobbins needing winding and pins to be picked up, then life isn't nearly as much fun as it should be!

Hexagon frenzy

Hi everyone out there in quilting blogland. This post is well overdue but I am wrapt to say I am back into my quilting.  My friend, Flash, has been helping me, as always....
The projects I am working on are two hexagon quilts - one single bed size and one queen size. I am doing a class at Stitch in a fortnight and I need to have all the hexagons cut and marked prior to attending. The class will teach us how to machine piece hexagons! I am so excited! I'm a bit over pfaffing around with English Paper Piecing, so I'm keen to learn a fast new technique that will help me churn through my stash. I'm afraid, despite plans to the contrary, the stash has gotten a bit out of hand...

For the queen size I've gleefully cut into my Anna Maria Horner Loulouthi stash. Sigh - so gorgeous! You can see in this photo how helpful Flash was being by settling on the fabric offcuts and then not moving as I continued to turn and trim on my nifty circular cutting board. I have yet to train him to pick all the bits up at the end but he did leave a trail of them through the house when he eventually stirred himself.

The single sized quilt is going to be out of Paula Prass's stunning Botanika. I adore this fabric! (What am I saying, I adore ALL fabric. But, this one is particularly pretty, don't you think?)
We can do the class in two different sizes of hexagon. I've gone for the largest size because it uses up more fabric and because I wanted to fussy cut as much of the Wingstudy print as I could.

So far I've cut all the hexagons out and have about...oh, 120 to mark the 1/4 inch selvedge of. This is because we need to match points, apparently. As to the rest of the process, I'm blissfully ignorant.
I'll update progress in a few weeks!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Hello Auckland!

Have just had a lovely week away in Auckland and it just wouldn't be right not to call into a few of my favourite quilting shops whilst there, now would it.

For Kaffe heaven, you can't go past All Things Patchwork in Waimauku. Wow! I was delighted to find this fabulous shrine to Kaffe Fassett and found two lovely striped FQs with my name on them. I also got carried away by this quirky 100% organic cotton bicycle quilt kit using Avalon by  Owner, Cheryl, is lovely, very knowledgable and helpful. Definitely well worth a visit and an easy drive only 45 minutes north west of Auckland CBD. 

Patchwork Passion in Onehunga has moved from their little cottage to a great space just a few doors away. Here I found a few gems including a full set of 7inch Kaffe shot cotton squares, as well as a FQ  of "classifieds" fabric which I've been lusting after for ages. They have a huge section of wool and felt fabrics too, with Sue Spargo coming to take classes. I confess I had quite a few moments of indecision over their block of the month Tumbling Leaves project designed by Klyama Haruyo, before reluctantly saying No...(this time!).

My trip to Auckland could not be completed without calling into Cushlas Village Fabrics in Devonport. This is where I first started buying quilt fabric and it was like stepping back in time to walk through the doors again. I could hear Francie in the back, on the phone, and the shop was packed, as usual, with an extensive range of quilting supplies.  A layer cake in Lumiere de Noel by French General for Moda caught my eye, as did some jumbo ric-rac.  Hmmm...what to make, what to make!

Tamarillo heaven

J'adore Tamarillos (aka Tree Tomatoes). They are an acquired taste for some but over icecream or even on their own, to me they are perfection.  You can eat them raw, just slice in half and spoon out the luscious flesh. If a little tart, just sprinkle with sugar.

I like to turn them into a sauce by heating them in fresh water, just until their skin splits.

Then, remove the skin and mash the flesh. Taste. If needed, add a little brown sugar to sweeten. Pop them in the fridge or serve warm straight away. Heavenly!

Monday, 14 May 2012


Have just been to see The Way, the Emilio Estevez film about the pilgrimage to the Compostella de Santiago; a 780km walk across the top of Spain, starting in France.

My friend, Fiona, and I  already plan to do the walk (yes, you read that right) in May 2015. I am now more determined than ever. It looks utterly amazing. And terrifying. And long.  And hard.  We must be crazy.  Buon Camino!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Guilty pleasures

So a while back I mentioned my plan NOT TO BUY ANY MORE FABRIC until I had worked my way through my existing stash. And I have to say, its been months since I partook of the den of iniquity that is ETSY. That should count for something! 

But the night before last I fell off the fabric wagon. 

Two words: WING STUDY.  It's from The Botanika Collection in the color Pastille from Michael Miller, designed by Paula Prass, and features a fresh take on botanical design. Birds, cages, crown, key, feathers, butterfly, eggs...Along with the printed words "Spread your wings", Unlock your dreams", and even a bit of prose:  

"I dream of taking flight high above all the worries and cares, gliding along is such a carefree manner I forgot it was just a dream."  

Then Lily Ashbury's Trade Winds for Moda caught my eye...sigh.  

After that it was a short but inevitable slippery slide into five pieces of Jennifer Paganelli's Matilda fabrics for Free Spirit, from her West Indies collection, (to be fair, I'd been lusting after this for a while)...

...before finally succumbing to the charms of Apartment Building Stripe from the Sweet on NYC Collection by The Pixie Pops for Timeless Treasures.

To top it off, well I was already damned so might as well make it worthwhile, I indulged in a few more pieces of the irresistible Penelope range by Holly Holderman from Lakehouse. 


Thursday, 19 April 2012

I submit this photograph as Exhibit A as to why I was unable to do the washing today...  Go Flash!

Field of dreams

Okay, so you know I'm studying for my science degree at university. Part of that involves going on research field trips. I have just returned from one such trip to a part of the world that is just spectacular, the Canterbury High Country.

This land of blues, browns, golds, silvers, blacks and greens is breathtaking and I can easily see myself doing more research in this area.
The purpose of this trip was to undertake some geographical research on a debris flow, using ground penetrating radar, GPS and some sedimentology.
Our debris flow, below, was about 900m above sea level and happened within the last three months, most likely due to heavy rain in the area. The data collected is now being crunched and all that is left is the report writing (but that's another story!).
Whilst extremely unfit, I have to say that my 'trial' of getting to the location was worth it as (once I got my breath back and survived the embarrassment of having to have my inside pant leg unhooked by many hands from around a barbed wire fence) even I couldn't help but appreciate the beauty of the surroundings we were working in. Surely there can be no better 'office'!