Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Challenge

I am not a spontaneous person! Important decisions need mulling over.
In Our Craft Forum a new season of challenges are being issued; well one at the moment, though as the new year begins, I am sure there will be many more.
After considerable dilly-dallying I have decided to enter the Row by Row Round Robin. Last week I had no idea what a RxR Round Robin was. I made enquiries as to how this challenge worked. And, I received replies that sort of gave me an idea. A few web sites were offered as I didn't know the difference between Traditional and Paper Piecing. I looked, and decided I could tackle this Row by Row Round Robin.
It will be a case of try, and perhaps try again, but a challenge was offered, and I have accepted. Roll on 2011! Though I will confess I have already told My Man that life may be difficult for a few hours as I work my way through this challenge.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bits 'n Pieces

Christmas is drawing near. Unlike some parts of the world we have no snow, or winter. Instead the summer sun shines brightly.

Most of my Christmas shopping/making is complete, apart from those small 'stocking fillers', and it is those small items that have kept my mind alert these past few days. One day was spent flicking through magazines. I knew I had a pattern for a small tissue pack, and another of luggage tags. Of course looking through magazines is a task that sends the mind into a spin. All those wonderful patterns of items I must make. If only the days were longer and our time on this planet was not restricted to under one century.

I found the tissue pack holders. After cutting and sewing it became clear the tissues in the magazine picture must be a different brand to what I have. The holders were too wide and a tad too short. Two tissue pack holders later I had the correct measurements. I even managed to write the measurements down for future reference!

I had it in my mind to make a luggage tag as I intend to take to the air next year. Three different luggage tag patterns in the magazines to choose from. I chose one. It was not exactly what I imagined. The window just didn't look right!

I slept on it.

This morning I awoke with an idea. After measuring and cutting slowly the luggage tag began to take shape. My 'reverse stitcher' came into use more than twice! But ... any project worth its salt needs patience. I was happy with the first tag I completed. It was a vast improvement on the efforts of yesterday when I followed a pattern.
Why not make a second tag? No reason! A colourful fabric found its way onto the cutting mat. I chose a cotton to blend with the fabric, and began to sew. Oh dear! The sewing machine, which has given sterling sevice for three years, began to make a noise; not a healthy sounding noise. Notwithstanding the fact that I have had the sewing machine for almost three years, and that I had never cleaned it, I surmised that perhaps this might be the day to perform that task.

I admit here ... I am not mechanically minded. Once before I read the instructions of how to clean the sewing machine, and gave up. Today I once again found the instruction book, and handed it to Dave. I instructed him to read the steps out to me ... while I tackled the business end of cleaning a sewing machine. Screws needed to be undone. A lint brush was brought into use. Dave read out that the vacuum cleaner could be used. He hauled out the vacuum cleaner, switched it on, and I manipulated the nozzle end. What a lot of fluff! No wonder the machine made such a strange noise.

Putting everything together was not as difficult as I imagined!

Soon I had the second luggage tag completed ... it was a delight to work a quiet machine! We forget how they should sound, and as the fluff clogs up slowly, it is unnoticeable.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lavender Blue?

On our recent trip to Perth I purchased a bag of lavender. Two years ago I attempted to grow lavender bushes, but the heat of summer combined with our absence for a few days, meant the demise of those bushes. And I had such high hopes!

There is only one alternative if growing lavender fails ... buy some.

As there were a few FQ's in suitable lavender shades it didn't take long to construct half a dozen lavender sachets. Their perfume permeates the room. One of my long held dreams, only a dream I hasten to add, is to sleep on freshly laundered lavender perfumed sheets every night. As I have no desire to change the sheets every day, this remains a dream.

I will place two of these sachets in the drawer where I store the sheets. That way my dream is partially realised, and who wants to achieve a dream 100% anyway? One needs a dream.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blue on blue

Recently a lovely FQ of blue roses caught my eye. I couldn't resist it, though I had no idea how I would use it.

It didn't take long for inspiration to kick in. First I made a table mat; then a table runner. They are similar in appearance as the table mat didn't turn out how I imagined. I made a mess up of the centre ... it should have been set into the middle like the table centre. Never mind! I simply turned it around, and had I not told you, I doubt if you would have known.

I also made a hexi flower out of the left-overs ... much nicer than bubble and squeak out of left-over cabbage and potatoes?! The hexi flower is already winging its way across Australia as part of a swap, and when I went to down-size the photo, I found a piece of cotton thread draped unbecomingly across the middle. Therefore ... no photo suitable for here.

Now I have the unenveniable task of wrapping my little pieces of stitching in Christmas paper in readiness for the post tomorrow ... envelopes, wrapping paper, and customs declarations at the ready!

In actual fact what better undertaking on a hot day [temperature is 40 degrees inside ... whew!], than to get into the spirit of Christmas.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Yet more Aprons!

I guess that if one likes making a particular item, then it stands to reason we keep on making them, albeit in different fabric and embellishments.

Christmas is fast approaching. Some people keep tabs on the number of days. Me? Suffice to know November is half-way through already! Once the calendar page is turned to December serious gift sewing is definitely late.


This year I have decided to send 'hand made' presents. The colours are chosen to suit the recipients. As hexagons hold great attraction one apron has three hexagons along the border ... below is a close up look at these delightful flowers.

Three aprons are ready for wrapping and posting!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Primitive

Today is the day we open our Primitive Swaps. Sadly my swap partner has not yet completed my gift, but ... it will arrive. Of course the lack of a swap to open on 'the day' takes away some of the excitement of the day.

As I sent my parcel a wee while ago, I decided to show the cushion I completed for the swap. I hope my swap partner likes it!

Monday, November 1, 2010

A winner

Recently I entered a give away here, and I was the winner of several lengths of lace. I am eagerly waiting on the post!!
Many thanks Rebecca for the giveaway.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Smell the Roses

I love making small things! The challenge of larger projects tends to wear off quickly ... I have had a 'gum leaf' quilt for the couch on the go for several months. It is a WIP ... by this time next year it will be completed.

Table runners, place mats, and cushions are my idea of a small project. Even if one busy with household chores; washing, ironing, etc; it isn't difficult to begin a small project and complete it within a week.

On Monday, wash day [I even ironed the same day!] I completed a cushion for a friend who has undergone a double mastectomy and is recover from breast reconstruction, a major operation in anyone's book. I think she is incredibly brave and courageous and to honour that courage I felt the urge to make a 'small thing' to mark that bravery. Recently one of the Forum members recommended a site, that of course I had to have a peek at. A BOM captured my attention, and immediately I knew one of those blocks was simply the best for this cushion. The Contented Quilter's 'Take Time to ...' series includes one 'Smell the Roses'. As this friend lives in a male dominated household I decided to make a 'girlie' cushion.

We are heading south next month ... then I will make a personal delivery.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Table Runner

Strike while the iron is hot, or when the mood comes upon one.
The Christmas fabrics simply screamed to be made into something. The last publication of Handmade had some inspiring Christmas projects; it didn't take long for an idea to gel, though as I progressed I did some minor tweaking.

What better than to make a gift for the sender of the fabric. I chose the holly fabric ... lovely crisp white, green and red ... the colours of Christmas. I had a small selection of other festive fabrics that I purchased some months ago, just in case an idea sprung into mind. Sorting them out took moments. I cut and sewed. It was when I was at the almost final stage that I realised the pattern in the book just didn't look complete enough for what I had in mind. Another look through magazines ... prairie points! Aha, a border of prairie points on the short ends. More cutting and folding before pinning them in place.

I have to confess I am rather pleased with the result ... a table runner for Christmas.
Now ... I am wondering if perhaps I might have time to make more!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Surprise Parcel

Slowly but surely I am working my way through my self-imposed list of baby knitting ... a singlet is wending its way to the prospective new parents. Singlets are not my most favourite item of baby knitting. My Mother, who it must be said, did not exactly like knitting, did volunteer to knit singlets; an offer gratefully accepted. My last child was born after her death, so I had to tackle singlets then ... I remember making a lemon one! Back then we didn't have the knowledge, via scans, of the sex of the expected arrival ... white, lemon, or green were the only safe options.

Today I received the most wonderful surprise! A friend in the UK sent a parcel, which in itself was exciting. Upon opening this parcel I discovered a treasure trove of fabric. Four beautiful Christmas fabrics, exceptionally good in quality, and one, which I must admit is my favourite, had robins on. Now my mind is racing with a suitable project for at least some of them!

As well there was a Fairy fabric, a fabric decorated with Flower Fairies. Ooohhh, I am indeed fortunate! I am not even beginning to dwell upon what that may end up as ... next year is early enough for such a brain teaser.


Monday, October 11, 2010

To Bear or not to bear?

The construction of the little bear, or Large Ears, took much less time that Shakespeare did when writing his plays. To be or not to be ... how many remember learning that at school? There were many more lines ... they I have forgotten, or most of them.



One would think I had little to do when a few hours were spent creating a little bear. He was to be. After sewing the body, attaching arms, those large ears, eyes, and making a nose, this little bear seemed strangely unfinished. He needed clothes! Trousers and a scarf were considered suitable for Large Ears ... his ears, had they been sewn on his feet would have made wonderful skis.

Several days later it dawned that no bear would go skiing dressed in shorts and a scarf. The wind chill factor would have made any snow sport extreme [ly cold]. This morning, after hanging the washing on the line I sorted out some wool, large needles, and cast on. Twelve stitches looked enough! Not having a pattern, I knitted, increasing and decreasing as the mood dictated. After lunch I sewed the jacket up. Mmmm ... mmmm ... something didn't look right! It was dull.

An idea sprung to mind ... perhaps Shakespeare wrote in a similar way? Ideas springing into mind; ideas that he transposed onto paper until a play was born? Anyway, my idea was simpler. A crochet border on the jacket; maybe in a colour to highlight Large Ear's eyes? Contrasting, almost matching, buttons completed the outfit. Now Large Ears is ready for anything life may bring.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Another Apron plus knitting

A busy person finds time ... or so they say.

I have been busy, and regretfully, haven't found time to take photos of my latest efforts; until today. Once again the apron bug has bit, and while I only show one apron here, there are three others packed away in my 'gift box'. Somehow I think aprons may well be the Christmas gift for 2010, for the girls anyway.

Recently I tidied my box of fabrics, only a plastic container full, and as such I don't yet consider it a stash. To me a stash implies many [100's?] of lengths of fabrics in glorious mix and not match colours. I don't think I have reached 100 items yet, though who is counting? I may be surprised!

While going through the fabrics combinations of colours suitable for aprons not only sprung into mind; they coerced my fingers to place them together in a pile. My apron pattern is extremely useful in that variations are not only possible, but important. Never let any of the recipients of my aprons be heard to say, "Oh, Mary, or Jane, received one exactly the same." No two have an identical twin.

Not only have I been sewing, but I have also been knitting. Spring has arrived giving us days already in the 30's. Almost too hot to knit, but I have a reason ... I am to become a grandmother once again. I love knitting baby clothes! To date two jackets with matching bootees are completed; I have a small pile of patterns I hope to make before the welcome arrival of the latest addition to the family.



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Prim and Old-Fashioned

My 'Prim swap 'effort is almost complete; all it needs are a few embellishing buttons to add to the authenticity. As this swap has some weeks yet to run I won't post a photo ... no sense in spoiling the surprise should my swap partner visit this site!
In the beginning I knew little about 'Prim' [Primitive], but after tentative enquiries and ready information through replies, I decided that I could do this. The use of Parisiene essence caused a few anxious moments. Once I discovered this product was simply gravy browning, in disguise, my enthusiasm for its application dimmed. The option of coffee I discarded. I drink too much coffee to warrant using it as a dye! Oh yes, there are some of us who are descended from that noble race, The Scots, and we have standards to uphold.
When a kind soul suggested using tea-bags, my problem was solved. After choosing a pattern [I decided upon a cushion, and that information my swap partner already is aware off, so I am letting out no secrets with that admission] I stitched, and I sewed. The finished article looked not too bad!
Yesterday I brewed some tea, strong tea in a bowl. After allowing it to cool I dipped a piece of fabric to check for colour. Mmmm ... I guess that is the shade I am seeking.
Dip the cushion cover ... dunk it again to make sure. Ah ... the colour is the correct shade, though I have no idea what that correct shade should be. Remember, I have never 'done Prim' before. Quickly I pegged the cover on the clothes line, squeezing a little excess moisture that threatened to drip, drip, drip onto my shoes. Two hours later the cushion cover was dry enough to iron. While ironing the thought did pass through my mind if a 'prim' item should be ironed. I like ironing, within reason.
I am not sure if I truly have fallen in love with Prim ... it may take some getting used to.
Last week the Mingenew Expo was held. Expo is a fairly pretentious word for what could more correctly be described as a Country Show. However, an Expo it is. And, in the true form of an Expo, many for-sale items were on display.
Rows of farm machinery; pens of sheep; tents housing displays for kit homes; a Police recruitment centre; displays of handbags and leather belts; all these and more covered a large area of the Mingenew Sports ground. There were food stalls; a caravan selling baked potatoes with a huge variety of toppings was especially busy [their product was scrummy!]
One enclosure held what could only be called a farmyard. Most of the animals were white ... sheep, dog, cat and rabbits, a guinea pig that had a brown splotch on its back, a duck, a white goose, a cocky little bantam rooster who, at 11.00am perisisted in crowing his 'good morning world' welcome, and two tiny black and white piglets. It wasn't only the children who were enthralled with this enclosure!

Inside a huge tent more displays enticed Expo visitors to spend. Massages; honey; several stalls selling wine; others inviting a taste of chocolate, or a sip of wine; the CWA held a corner spot selling aprons [$16 each!], cakes and biscuits, and home-made sweets; while further along contractors involved in the mining industry that encompasses this state toted their wares.
Outside a travelling sideshow, giving free displays [once upon a time this would have been held in a tent and a fee charged at the flap] of bare-back horse-riding, whip cracking, and shearing by blades. Blade shearing is old-fashioned, but this was part of the show. That the shearer-come poet-come raconteur from way back, only shore part of the fleece each session is beside the point.

One of his main skills was shearing a sheep blindfolded. In the beginning we marvelled as he related this skill. He was handed a black blindfold by his partner, made a great show of folding it into complete darkness, only to tie it around the eyes of the sheep.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Apron Swaps

Today is the day! The beginning of September, Spring, and Wattle Day.

To me the most important is the fact that today, after showing great fortitude in not peeking, of opening my apron from my swap partner. When it arrived I carefully stored it in a bottom shelf of the hutch ... I hate bending down that far; the temptation was thus reduced.

I slept in this morning. The moment I entered the kitchen I made straight for the bottom shelf, removed the parcel which I had left in the postage bag. It was carefully wrapped in pink paper patterned with shoes and flowers. Very pretty. Had I been tempted to peek that paper would have caused major difficulties! I unwrapped the paper, found a selection of teabags, AND the apron.

It is soooo me! I have always preferred black as my base colour, and since my hair has faded to gold and silver, have taken to wearing red as a contrast. The apron has a black background, is covered with red cherries [scrummy looking!], and white cherry blossom, and edged with white ric rac. It has a sleek black lining. I love this apron!

The apron I sent as my swap effort is a cupcake apron.

P.S. I was about to bin the posting packet when I felt something else inside. A sweet little purse lay hidden in the depths of the bag!!!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Crazy or not?

Yesterday I heard wonderful news. A dear friend has been accepted into a nursing position at the hospital where she did her practical training. That reminded me of a bag I made for her birthday, earlier this year.

I hummed and hawed about colour, and pattern. A magazine article demonstrated crazy patchwork, and as I had several lovely blue fabrics, all crying out, "Use me!" I decided to oblige.

Not wishing to have a bag without a defined back and front it was an easy matter to find a design to put on the front. This up and coming nurse loves her garden ... hence my choice of design.


The bag was duly completed and forwarded in time for the birthday.

A few weeks later I receive a telephone call. Evidently the bag was just the right size for textbooks; several of her collegues admired the bag, which of course is a one off.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Aprons and Hexagons

Back to craft. The past week actually saw me sewing!

For some obscure reason I caught the 'apron bug'. Perhaps it was because in sorting through my stash I found [hiding under lots of other stuff] some reasonably sized pieces of fabric. Looking and wondering an idea emerged. These were just the size for an apron providing I supplemented them with contrasts.


Three aprons were completed mid-week. I am sorry to report that the third apron cannot be shown on this blog. That elderly Aunt Alice swears she not only designed it, but made the whole article. As she is slightly eccentric who am I to argue? To have a peep at it you will have to visit Aunt Alice's Secret Diary, but please, be careful not to be found out! She can be a right tartar when thwarted.

The Craft Forum runs several swaps, and while I haven't taken the opportunity to join many [I don't wish to find I have run out of time to complete a swap project], I have opted into the Flower Hexagon Swap. This entails the making of a flower hexagon and forwarding it on ... a flower hexagon doesn't take too much time, and is rather fun.

As it is many years since I constructed a flower hexagon I made a couple as a trial run, before tackling one for my swap partner. I fear a bug could be on the rounds, as several folk have reported the rampant spread of the hexagon bug! I will try to avoid such a contagious disease ... the apron bug saw me lying awake at night contemplating colours ... just imagine how the hexagon bug could affect one!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wonderland

This blog is a non-craft blog; instead I intend taking you on a small journey around this area. Nature presents us with a wonderful kaleidoscope of colour and texture that soothes the senses and increases creativity.

Yesterday we went for a drive, what once could have been classed as a Sunday Drive. You remember the Sunday Drive? After a huge roast lunch [a roast of beef, perhaps served with Yorkshire Pudding, roast potatoes all brown and crunchy, roast parsnip, roast onions, carrots and green peas, followed by jelly and fruit, and sometimes icecream. Does your waistline expand with the thought?

While winter has not completely left us, spring is knocking on the door. The weather is supposed to turn cold later in the week, and it was this promise of a few more days of winter, that sent us in the search for fire wood.

Recently the roadside trees were lopped mainly to improve visibility for motor vehicles, and the increasing number of trucks carting iron ore from a mine to ships. These trucks rumble past our place night and day, but as is the case with any noise that is repetitious, the mind learns to close them out.

Our main purpose was to locate suitable fallen trees that can be collected later. At the moment the verges are wet, small lakes have formed in depressions, their muddy waters providing a swimming pool for birds and a bath for creatures. Many trees had fallen; there is an abundance of wood suitable for firewood once sawn into sizes that will fit easily into the pot-belly stove.

We drove along the tar-sealed road turning onto a gravel road that would take us back in a loop to home.

Hardly had we hit the gravel than a wonderful 'picture postcard' presented itself. For once I had taken the camera! We stopped and I clicked. High on the top of the rise grain silos stood, like sentrys on guard; the brilliant yellow of the canola flowers making a golden carpet in the foreground. Australia is yellow and green ... I always thought these colours represent the wattle flowers, which are coming into bloom at this time of year, and the green, perhaps the green of the countryside in winter and spring. After capturing this photo I now wonder if perhaps the yellow is not canola!? I know it isn't, but sometimes it should be.

Half a kilometre along this gravel road another view caught the eye. Once again we stopped; once again I clicked the camera.

Having experienced a little rain over the recent weeks, with more expected this week, the wild flowers of Western Australia are beginning to make their appearance. According to those in the know the best of their blooms won't be visible until next month, that is if the promised rain does arrive. However at the moment there is a wonderful shrubby bush out in full flower. It is unremarkable for much of the year, but at the moment this bush, whose name I do not know [maybe you do?] frames a delightful view, make more delightful by the frame; a flummery of candy floss.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cotton Pod

Recently a mystery challenge was offered. I, like most, are intrigued by the word mystery, and combined with challenge, it was a challenge not to be missed.
I posted my self-addressed envelope, and after it was misdirected by the Post Office, the instructions, along with a pretty piece of fabric and matching buttons arrived. I read the instructions; they seemed simple enough to follow. Rather than risk messing up the pretty blue and green fabric I decided to make a trial mystery item. It turned out OK.
Next I worked on the blue and green fabric, which cried out to me for a little embellishment of lace.
The mystery item turned out to be a cotton pod, a simple enough structure that evolved from the designer having difficulty in keeping cotton tidy in her sewing basket. The cotton pod is an ingenious way of storing cotton; the pod can be made using a small piece of fabric and could be made to 'match' your sewing implements.
You are interested in making one? It is not difficult. The pattern, which is free, is available HERE.
Make one or two, or more!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

It's a cats life

Earlier in the week I acquired a pattern for a 'cat block', and after a trip to the city have purchased the beginnings of another project. While this will be on the back burner for a few days [or longer] my idea as to its final look are solidfying. At the moment I have no plan for the borders etc, it all depends on what I decide is needed. This of course makes for an interesting project ... it is one that will go which ever way the mood takes me along the journey.

One of the most interesting facets of any craft is the one undertaken with a sudden urge. Last weekend the construction of the pot holder gave a clear picture of how one can begin and complete an article in a short time; giving the creator a feeling of a job well done. A short sweet project gives one a fillip and pushes forward the idea that a few of these are worthwhile ... even though I do have projects awaiting attention.
While sorting through, or tidying up, my fabrics I realised I had enough for another pot holder. Not long after I first bought my sewing machine in an effort to become familiar with it, I made a pot holder, one that I find immensely useful. I remember at the time thinking that if I make it again I would do the binding different. Of course I forgot that stored information, and blithely followed the pattern. It wasn't until I began sewing on the binding I remembered. Too late! I had no desire to unpick half the binding, so plodded on. Now I have written 'my correction' on the pattern, for future reference. This pattern is particularly useful and adaptable ... I will make it again, and soon.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Australasia

Today saw me celebrating, although in a very low key manner, two wins. One ... the All Blacks beat the Wallabies in rugby, which is a feather in the cap of the smaller nation. As I have spent most of my life in New Zealand it is not difficult to guess who I favour! That such a small country, population wise, should have such dominance in this sport is nothing short of incredible.

The other win ... Fremantle Dockers won the AFL Western Derby, hugely, over The West Coast Eagles. Least said about the score the better ... I felt sorry for Eagles' supporters.

I dislike sitting listening to football and not keeping my hands busy. Today I decided to combine Australia and New Zealand in a project. My 'pot holder' that we use to pour hot water from the kettle [boiling on the pot belly stove] into a cup of coffee needs washing. For some time I concluded I needed another holder for that express purpose, and today I sorted through my stash for suitable fabric.

A green background with ferns and kiwis was appropriate to represent New Zealand, and as green and gold are the colours of Australia, a plain gold fabric served to illustrate Australia. Green and gold together is just too Australian; a dividing shade was required. A beige paisley suited that purpose admirably.
While the Dockers demolished the Eagles I sewed. By the end of the game a new pot holder was completed. A small project, but one that profitably filled in the afternoon, and in colours that have some meaning for me will remind me in days and weeks ahead of the 1st day in August.

Friday, July 30, 2010

My mystery challenge is turning out pretty good, and already I can see how I can make it just a little prettier, if prettier is the correct word. One day I just might publish a photo here, but no ... not today!
Two minutes ago I had a phone call ... My Man, after one night in hospital and for exactly what we are not yet certain, is on his way home. His PICC line is out and, fingers crossed, all will be OK.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Mystery Challenge

A Mystery Challenge was announced. I signed up, posted my envelope away, and waited in anticipation for the mail. The days wound by. No mail! Mail arrives from New Zealand quicker than from 'the other side' of Australia!

My daughter arrived from the southern city. As My Man has had several visits to the regional hospital, finally being admitted [again] today for an undefined period] he collected the mail before making one of his 'wasted' trips to hospital, thus my envelope with details of the mystery challenge didn't arrive until late.

This evening I carefully read the instructions. I could visualise how the article should look upon completion, but, not wishing to waste the lovely fabric included with the pattern and instructions, I have begun a 'trial article'. It is an interesting exercise making something one has no idea of how it should finally look ... though my visualisation is usually reasonably correct. And no, I am not going to post a photo of this mystery article, nor divulge what it is! Some things are best kept secret!

So ... as I haven't sewn for a few days, but instead have gone galavanting to the northern city; almost doing the 'tourist thing'. My usual visit to the city entails grocery shopping [essential to maintain life], or shopping at my favourite fabric shop [essential to maintain mental health ... boredom is boring, and doing nothing creative is boring], this trip allowed us to make a close encounter with a spectacular memorial that is extremely relevant to Geraldton.

We visited the Memorial to the men on board the HMAS Sydney who, on 19th November 1941, lost their lives when the Sydney was involved in an encounter with the HSK Kormoran. On 16th March 2008 the ship was found 112 nautical miles off Steep Point, WA. A memorial was erected commemorating the sixty years on 19th November 2001.


The memorial is situated high on a Geraldton hill, and consists of a dome that has a seabird for each of the 645 crew lost. A sculpture of a wife looking out to sea searching for any sign of her man is a poignant work of art; one cannot help but feel completely engaged with her obvious signs of anxiety ... a furrowed brow, her eyes are clearly pained, she wears around her neck a chain with an anchor and has a wedding ring on her finger ... her clothing is reminiscent of the 1940's. This memorial brings home the agony, and the utter futility of war.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stitch in Time?

The year is fast running through the hourglass of time; Christmas and 2011 are around the corner. The old saying, A Stitch in Time Saves Nine, has worn well over the years, though in today's modern, and too fast society, few make the initial stitch, and many profess to not have the time.

For a few days it appeared that my sewing table, which still neglects to show its true colours, so laden down it is, was becoming a mountain of projects through which I could see no end. Deciding to limit my time on the computer, a self imposed restriction that did work, I worked steadily at the QAYG project that I volunteered to undertake.

QAYG? Aha, there may be many out there who are unaware of that acronym, one that I was completely in the dark about in June. In July a glimmer of light shone through the dimness ... that was because the word was explained. Quilt as you go. Easy isn't it when told! The Forum decided to donate a quilt to a charity, and the members invited to tender their effort. Not being an old hand at quilting, but one willing to take a chance and learn I offered to do my block; a block for charity! We were invited to make one or as many as we wished. In the beginning I volunteered to make two, but once the first two were complete, and ideas still swishing around my mind, I increased the count. I have made five; and sincerely hope they are what is needed. Thankfully I am not the one to bind them together into a quilt! [I rather think if that were so I would need to purchase a wig!]

Above is my completed effort ... all that is left is to mail it away, and carry on with other projects that are screaming for attention.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stippling and other Things

Two weeks without a posting! I do have an excuse; correction ~ a reason, because a reason is more acceptable than an excuse.

Visitors, rain, the need to chase firewood; the reasons are endless.
The most important one is I have been busy. After consigning the Attic windows quilt to the plastic box that holds so much of my crafty items, and after watching a video that made free-motion quilting look like child's play, I bit the bullet. Not without some trepidation I must add!
The stippling is not perfect, but the more I do, the better I should become. Well that is what those who know these things say ... the old adage; practice makes perfect. I aim for perfection, but will be content with pretty good.

I have taken part in an apron swap, and while this particular item is now complete and ready for mailing, I won't post a picture here as these swaps are not supposed to be opened until 1st September, which is a whole season away! However, I will try to hold onto the suspense.
Last week the winter arrived, with a vengeance. Hearing the weather forecast over the weekend I made a decision ... do some washing on Sunday, which is not part of my normal routine. Monday promised rain and wind. While My Man laughed at me on Monday morning as I filled the washing machine almost before the sun had risen, that choice proved a wise one. By late morning the first drops of rain fell from a leaden sky; my washing was dry enough to rescue, and indeed it was only the heavier items that needed a little airing.
Thankfully we had 'chased' enough firewood to see us through, and although heavy showers descended upon us for much of the next day, and the rain gauge level continued to rise, reaching 74ml over three or four days, at least it was warm and dry indoors ... just the weather for a little concentrated sewing.
I must remember to tell the maid that she must make a bigger effort to keep the floor tidy during one of my sewing sessions ... little threads of cotton are not a pretty sight!
Today the bees are busy in the gum flowers, the two tawny frog-mouths are sleeping the day away in the shelter of a bent branch on the gum tree outside the back door, and the sun is shining.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Nothing Much

The countdown to a visit from No. 3 son is on. It has been almost two years since I last saw him ... he is a busy owner/operator of a caravan park in the south west, and after two and a half years without a break, they took a fortnight off, headed east to the Gold Coast for a little R & R. Their visit with us is the end of their break.

My Man had a checkup with the surgeon last Friday ... no amputation! One worry less! The waiting for the antibiotics to do their trick was long, and dragging. We didn't allow ourselves to contemplate the options, which it now appears was correct.

Sewing is always on the go ... at the moment I am hurrying to complete another batch of eight hearts in a yellow theme. I have the cot quilt to back, though did buy some polar fleece last week. Once the 'visit' is over the sewing machine will take precedence again, especially as I have entered an apron swap, which sounds exciting! I have millions of ideas roaming the mind, but will need to bear in mind that my partner might have a particular preference. The draw for this swap is the end of the month ... not long to go!

As well I have undertaken to make some QAYG blocks; this will be a first for me. My box of magazines is extremely handy in my search for ideas, which I should write down as they pop into mind! Instead I turn another page, and what I have seen fades into almost oblivion. In the middle of the night I will wake up, a wonderful idea flashing across the brain, and in the morning that idea has flown out the window with the breaking morning. As for having a pad and pencil on the bedside table ... heavens! Who is that organised?

Perhaps I should be?!

My dear friend, Aunt Alice, has been gardening, and while she spoke highly of the petunias, even publishing a picture of them, she forgot the potted plants growing alongside the petunia bed. Tut, tut, Alice! Basil is useful and aromatic. Petunias are beautiful, but of little culinary use.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Success

My Man has been home from hospital for over a week now, and while still having to attend Outpatients at the local medical centre, is making progress. Hopefully the massive doses of antibiotics, via the PICC line and Baxter pump will send the infection away ... for good! The diagnosis was osteomyelitis, something a diabetic does not want.

They say good things come in three's. Perhaps the rain that has fallen making the place clean and green to view is number two.

Certainly the third is the parcel that arrived in the post earlier in the week. Just before Christmas Handmade featured some lovely designs, ones that I determined were 'up my alley'. I stictched felt hearts, on a festive theme, and made a hexagon table centre, which turned out good enough to take a photo and send it to the magazine. Imagine my delight when that letter, with photo, gained the status of 'Star Letter"! That a gift was the prize made the win even better.

I waited, heady with anticipation, for my parcel to arrive. Days went by; weeks went by; and slowly my excitment changed to anxiety. Maybe gifts were only a carrot? Surely not. Handmade is a reputable magazine, and I had read letters from others who had received their gift.

Months later I sent an email, received a gracious reply apologising for the delay. There was a reason ... there had been a change of editors. The gift would be mailed forthwith.

On Thursday there was a small card in the postbox ... inside the Post Office was a parcel! It was my gift! Showing great restraint I waited until we arrived home before opening the parcel. What a delightful array of goodies were inside!

There were scrapbooking papers and embellishments, there was a wonderful wooden set of bag handles, a book on embellished applique printed in the USA and using a dime as one of the measurements [will have to find out the size of a dime!], there was a wonderful Puff Quilting Clip set, and a small embroidery of a rooster including embroidery cottons to complete.

I admired the articles many times, took a photo, and admired again, finally putting them away for future use. Though I must have a try with that puff quilting clip! And in the meantime my brain is ticking over as to the best way of using the bag handles ... maybe something rustic with some flowers [to match the flower decoration on the handles] to bring the bag to life?

Surely this is proof things do come in threes?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Square Dancing

In the beginning I must confess I have never attempted Square Dancing. Once upon a time I flirted with Line Dancing; indeed one winter Line Dancing not only kept me warm, but improved my fitness; that is after I conquered the main steps, which are different to Square Dancing. Both, in my mind, should be performed in a 'country' type location. A shed with hay bales for seats springs to mind. Hay bales often have prickles in their makeup which entices the dancers to keep on the floor.

This particular Square dance does not take place in a barn. It is more of a sedentary occupation, but challenging to the mind and patience.

A posting appeared; was a challenge issued? Some proclaimed, loud and long, that those who had not tackled this particular Square Dance would be better staying in the dark. A challenge, whether it be imagined or real, is a challenge, and it is sadly not in my nature to dodge a new activity. How could Square Dancing bring grown women to their knees, metaphorically of course?

Not wishing to waste good materials I hunted out fabrics that combined well enough for the dance. If I failed ... yes I did contemplate failure ... the main waste would be my time. I downloaded the pattern, transferred the template pattern to an old Christmas card, one that was solid enough to take the main stage, and reading instructions as I went, proceeded on. So far so good!
Keeping in mind the dire warnings about difficulties, I tacked the pieces first. They fitted. I machined them, pressing as I went. Oh! It actually worked! Not particularly liking the chosen fabrics, and not desiring to make too large an item [I was only using scraps], I added an extra border, included a backing and batting, pressed and trimmed before adding the final binding. It wasn't too bad; then again I could see errors.

I had forgotten that binding should start half-way along a row, some of the points were cut off. Ah well, there was only one solution ... make another. In the process of constructing the Square Dance, which by now you will have guessed is a patchwork block, I used the walking foot. My sewing machine skills need practice; I am now the possessor of two table mats, which will allow another change in the decor of the table.

You haven't tried Square dancing ... look here for the pattern. http://www.quilterscache.com/S/SquaredanceBlock.html
You don't need a partner, and there are no promenades involved.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

And Another, Plus Creepy Crawlies

Yesterday we visited My Man in hospital. He is making progress, and with an additional 'procedure' it is hoped he will be able to come home. That he is beginning to champ at the bit shows, I am sure, that he is feeling better.

We, [eldest son and his lady, who were my 'taxi service'] sat talking into the night, reminiscing and looking at old photos when their little dog, who was bedded down in her cosy bed, started to act up. I thought she noticed an ant, but no. Instead a rather long centipede, at least 10cms long, with a multitude of hairy legs and a flatish body in a creamy yellow wended its way across the floor. Never had I seen such a creature, and I don't particularly wish to see another, especially inside! Eldest son acted promptly, trodding on it; it was then tossed out the door into the damp night air, as rain had fallen, gently, for a few hours. No doubt it was the damp soil that drove the creature inside. This morning I picked it up [on a shovel] and placed it in the bin. Now I wish I had taken a photo!

To make up for the lack of a photo of Mr Centi Pede I decided to take one of the second pin cushion I constructed. It is larger and at the moment has no pins stuck into it ... nor has it taken on the appearance of a voodoo doll! I may deposit this in the 'Christmas box', as two pin cushions is probably one too many. I love the fabric! But as I only had one fat quarter a pin cushion seemed the obvious way of using some of it ... ideas may spring to mind about the use of the rest of it ... in the meantime it stays in the box of stash.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pin cushion

After grappling with pins incorrectly housed in a needle holder and the 'wheel' thingy that they are purchased in, I bit the bullet and began a large project. A pin cushion!

I do recall owning several in NZ, but never thought to bring them with me when I crossed the Tasman. One can't cart everything; I left the kitchen sink behind, so a pin cushion hardly seemed a relevant necessity. I recall teaching children at primary school how to construct felt pin cushions; some of which were decorated with contrasting tiny birds. I wonder how many of those items are still lurking in the back of cupboards, as several children informed me, proud of their efforts, that the pin cushion was destined to be a gift for Mother.
I looked through a few magazines, but decided to just make one. While some pin cushions are a work of art, this was meant as a practical item ... pretty it up a little, and use it with ease.


I started last evening and stuffed it this morning; the result is satisfactory. As I did achieve a lot yesterday physically I am contemplating making another, and maybe another after that? One could almost mistake it for a cup cake topped with 100's and 1000's.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

P's and Q's

As My Man is in hospital with an infected diabetic toe, but thankfully is making good progress with IV antibiotics, I have chores that normally would be shared, to tackle. The chores included surveying the block, checking and disposing of weeds that persist in sharing our environment. Not that I blame them ... this is a rather nice place, especially now that the winter rains have arrived and the 'pasture' is green and ever so easy on the eye.

While raking leaves screamed for attention I diverted my exploration for a while and went weed hunting. Only three melons! Dug out and deposited in the bin! One 3-corner jack ... dug out with his feet exposed to the weather.

And several puffballs; the P's. Puffballs are the less attractive relation of mushrooms, puffballs are goblin rings; mushrooms, fairy rings. I am sure there were fewer puffballs last year. Perhaps that was because I didn't bother to remove them from their bed? This year I changed my tactics ... dig the out, and throw them in the bin, making it impossible [I hope] for them to reproduce. They are rather amazing to view though. Rather like, what I imagine, Martian homes resemble! As far as that goes, perhaps Martians are simply spores?

Now onto the Q's. I have caught a very addictive virus, the quilting bug. Though I do recollect way back in the annals of time that I did construct a 'grandmother's garden' quilt; had no idea what I was doing, but carried on regardless. I do remember, vividly, that I couldn't find my thimble and had a volcanic hole in my finger. It did heal, but the memory remains.

I drooled over quilts that I had seen photos of; work of a group of dedicated crafty ladies [crafty in the nicest sense ever], and wondered if I ever would have the nerve to make one myself. With the house empty and no-one to witness a display of temper [just in case it went all wrong] I purchased fabric; standing in the shop for ages trying to find fabrics that would work in with what was in my mind.

I read the pattern, read it again and again, and cautiously cut. I sewed, and amazingly the whole thing came together. Now I need to think on what colour backing I will use, though the foremost thought is pink.

There is a sad ending to this tale ... my mind is already racing ahead to what I might do next ... while my conscience is reminding me I do have U.F.O's ... [perhaps they come from Mars, exploding upon my little space on earth in a giant gust of wind?]

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pastels and other things

The weekend came up trumps weather-wise; 16mls of rain fell, the winds blew strong, the grass is green, and the air smells clear and sweet. As is normal with all of life, while rain helped the growth of much, it was excessive for some of the older gum trees. This morning, as I wandered down The Avenue to switch on the water pump, fallen branches captured my attention. I pulled some to the wood-pile, others will need the extra strength of the tractor.

Last week I shopped [again], this time bringing home several Fat Quarters in shades of yellow, and a soft blue/green. Plus I managed to find a fabric with a white background and covered with the tiniest of spots in yellow, pale pink, and a deep pink; this provide the main piece on which to place the Dresden plates sitting awaiting a home.

But, first things first. Three or more months ago I began a throw for the couch, using a pattern that featured gum leaves. I chose a background in shades of brown with gum leaves in varying shades of green appliqued onto the browns. The first twenty squares went well! Then other projects captured my interest ... projects needing immediate attention! Against all my better judgements I left the gum leaves to wallow in a basket waiting for the time I would return.

Yesterday, the Dresden plate cushion complete, and only knitting staring me in the face, there was no option but to pick up the gum leaves and stitch some more onto their background. [I could have started another set of hearts, after all I do have all those Flat Quarters.] Amazingly the gum leaves are going well; perhaps it is wise to leave a project if interest wanes?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Books

I have a discussion whirling through my mind; books, wonderful books that take us to places unknown, books that explore emotions and ideas that flit through the mind; to information tomes that are weighty in size and words. How do we personally categorise books?

At a recent book sale I purchased almost thirty books, novels, biographies; all books that I thought I would enjoy, or would give me food for thought ... one, The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, a small volume in size, but huge in all other ways. The cover was drab, the scrip disturbing. A discussion appeared regarding this book. My comment ... "found it different. I won't say I enjoyed it, as it was such a sad tale. But extremely well written and very readable" ... Another commented that they loved the book, and it was that comment that sent me to search my mind.

I didn't love The Boy in Striped Pyjamas. The story was excellent, the writing impeccable; it built up to a climax, one that we expected, but hoped to be incorrect in our expectations. I would recommend that book to anyone, with the rider not to expect to laugh, or even smile.

In saying that I had to explore my reason for not loving the book. It was the sadness.

Today the media concentrates on calamity. Sadness permeates our very lives and if we are caring folk at all, it makes it extremely easy to drift into a pit of despair. While I agree that we must realise that there is sadness, there is uncontrolled anger, it is my considered opinion that a high diet of sad reading material has a similar effect on our soul as obesity does to heart attack. Oh, I do read sad books such as The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, and I do not dislike such books. I simply do not love them. Love is a word filled with kindness and gratitude and caring; and while there was indeed a wonderful display of such emotions in The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, the over-riding sadness and certainty of that sadness simply cancelled that emotion out. Read The Boy in Striped Pyjamas yourself ... do you love it, or simply enjoy the book for telling a tale overflowing with sadness?

Of course the above begs the question, "What type of book do I prefer?" Once upon a time, when my hair was golden, not silver brushed with gold, I read widely, though upon reflection the choice was narrow. I preferred books that told real tales, biographies of people who discovered marvellous things, be that thing be land, or a discovery of the personal nature, or an invention. I read books about places; places I would have loved to visit, but never did; places that I desired to learn more about for obscure unknown reasons.

Why do some places attract one more than others?

Why does one book jump off the library shelf and not its neighbours?

Questions and more questions that may or may not have answers in books; but do we not search for books that add to our knowledge of how we personally desire the world to be?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Winter

It has been a strange day. We had a quick trip into town for the usual weekend necessities ... newspaper, magazine and some meat. While in the supermarket the sky darkened, opened, and the rain poured down like all the buckets in heaven were being emptied at the same moment; the wind whirled the rain, the gutters overflowed; winter arrived in an instant. The greasy road and the buffeting winds made for a slower journey home.

A few kilometres from home we had to scoot to the other side of the highway as a huge gum-tree branch had fallen, blocking one lane rendering the road dangerous. For the final leg of our morning trip to town we had to avoid numerous small branches lying on the roadway. I wondered how many trees, or branches, had broken at home as it was obvious the wind was as violent there and the rain as torrential as in town.

The corner of our road was slippery, a common predicament for this country road. No trees appeared broken. We were lucky!

Hurriedly grabbing our shopping we hurried indoors, entering via the front door as the path was under water to the back door, our normal entry. The house was in darkness. No microwave clock showing its yellow time. The electricity was off. I walked down The Avenue checking that a branch hadn't fallen over our power line, but all was well. We telephoned the electricity company to be informed that electricity was off in our wider area; the estimation time of reconnection 2.30pm. Not a problem; we are used to electricity outages in the country. We have gas for cooking, and the lovely stove that burns wood for heating on these cooler days always has two kettles simmering; hot water for coffees. All is well.

There is one major downfall to power outages. We forget how much we rely on electricity. Thankfully there was no accumulation of clothes awaiting washing; the ironing was done. The activities one can undertake without electricity, on a wet and windy showering day diminish. Sewing on the machine was out; doing some hand appliquΓ© was out, as I hadn't ironed the pellon onto the fabric. I couldn't vacuum, not that I needed to as that chore was undertaken yesterday, but the thought was there, mainly because I knew it was out. I couldn't listen to the radio for the football as I had planned.

I started a Dresden plate cushion last week but put it aside to concentrate on some more hearts. Ah well, nothing would be lost with the inclement weather ... I completed that cushion, pushed its inner in ... and took a photo. The Suffolk Puffs add that little extra touch to the corners. I am keeping this cushion! It goes well on the plastic outdoor chair, but ... I won't be leaving it outside in this weather with wind-blown rain dampening everything on the patio.

The electricity came on around 4.00pm.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Excursion into the Past

Today, Sunday, is National Motoring Heritage Day. An exhibition of cars of yester-year was held in brilliant sunshine on the Spalding Cricket Oval in Geraldton. We attended.

Row upon row of wonderfully aged motors stood side by side on the grounds where in summer cricket balls hit the bat resoundingly. Today Holdens, Fords, Buicks, Chryslers, Rovers, an Austin 7 sports, and Tractors, Trucks, and Motor bikes held the attention of those assembled. I took photos ... to keep the memories of the day, and the cars of my youth, alive.
After wandering around the area of parked vehicles, and after peering at the paintwork, the fluffy pair of dice dangling from the rear-view mirror of a chrome trimmed black Cadillac, 1958 Fleetwood Special, left-hand drive, and admiring the beautifully restored upholstery we ventured further afield ... there were eldery motor-bikes, one similar to what my Uncle owned more years ago than I care to recall; trucks small in comparision with the road trains of that make frequent pilgrimages up the Brand Highway; tractors that bear little resemblance to the machines that are this day spraying wheat paddocks ... and further afield to where a tent housed a display of eldery items that we have almost forgotten about.

There were kerosene refrigerators, washing machines that while saving the housewife a few hours and hard work on wash day are a far cry to the pristine white models that grace our laundries today.

Two steps inside this particular tent stood a circular display of sewing machines; vintage sewing machines. Not a treadle machine in sight! All were hand wheeled models, some almost 150 years old. They would have been innovative for the housewife towards the end of the 19th century when a needle and thread was the norm. I can imagine the enthusiasm these machines were greeted with by those charged with the task of sewing for the family.

I look at my modern Janome and marvel ... the difference between those elderly sewing machines painted black, with gold embossing, a shuttle in the place of our modern-day bobbins, is as striking as is the difference between an early model Massey Ferguson and a modern bright green and yellow John Deere of today guiding the giant sprayers that look like a praying mantis with arms outstretched.

Beyond the sewing machine display a collection of household items were protected from curious poking hands in a large wooden open-topped box sealed across the top with chicken wiring. Heirloom china and Grandma's doilies had pride of place. I tried to take a photo of just one of the doilies; it proved difficult as the closer I tried to reach the more precarious the box was, moving [it seemed] with me. I contented myself with the above photo. I pictured the maker sitting by a kerosene lamp stitching after the household chores were completed.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Present and Past project

The Dresden Plate exercise proved fruitful, and like the tube quilting, addictive. I find it unusual that none of the numerous magazine articles about addiction fail to mention craft addiction. Does that mean it is harmless?
Having sorted through my fabrics for colours that would be suitable on an indoor/outdoor chair as a cushion, I chose a golden yellow, a pale beige paisley, and a colourful blue/green for the dresden plate; and a simple square of calico for the background. In the beginning I had no idea what exactly I was making, nor how it would turn out. The dresden plate looked bare on the calico; needing some extra embellishment.

Over a period of three or four years I have attempted to make Suffolk Puffs. They look simple! No matter how many instructions I followed, or how careful I was, they were disasters; akin to my attempts at sponge cake making. [My first two sponges ended up in the bin, the next two were turned into a trifle, and no more have been made. I am speaking of those beautifully light and airy sponges consisting mainly of egg and sugar and a great quantity of air.]

Determined to not let a Suffolk Puff come between me and success I tried again. But this time I had back-up. I used Google! There were several postings on how to. One proved to be my saviour. One set of directions included the phrase, pull and twiggle it into the correct shape. Aha!! I had never attempted that! Before I had simply sewn, tried to tighten the cotton only to end up with a shapeless shape. This time it worked! Because? I pulled and twiggled it into shape. I made four Suffolk Puffs to represent flowers, and concocted eight leaves as colour and to accentuate the flower corners. The photo shows the partially completed cushion cover top, that I will get back to in the later part of next week.

While I have attached all the leaves, and one flower, I have been taken off that path for a couple of days, as I am making more hearts.

On the subject of hearts, just before last Christmas I made felt hearts, which were effective as decorations for the tree.