Saturday, 30 January 2010

February Friday Night Sew-In Anyone?

Well, I've signed up for the next Friday Night Sew-In on the 19th of February over at Handmade by Heidi.



I found the last one to be just the bit of motivation I needed to get stuck in and spend a concentrated amount of time stitching! Anyone else want to join in the fun? Visit Heidi, add your name to the list (last time there were about 150 of us) and get set for a good night in!

It's been a very busy week in our house with major re-shuffling of work and home stuff, so my little Suedio now has a few additions to be sorted through (I know, I thought I was done with boxes - these contain things that needed to come into the house once some storage was sorted out. But now they've been moved from the garage and into my space!!!)



So after all this re-location, I'm a bit weary and in need of one of these . . .



Hope the weekend brings joy to your world.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Little Pretties (in progress)

Well this week has been pretty much taken up with life that does not involve needle and thread . . .

However, I have managed to get some inspiration to make some progress on my 'Little Pretties' quilt. This has been a work in progress for almost 2 years !!! I got a bit bored with it and found it very difficult to face - so many LITTLE pieces (and a bit tedious to put together, if I'm being honest).



There are quite a few piles of squares waiting to be stitched together. After putting in a bit of effort (motivated by the Friday Night Sew-In a couple of weeks back), I joined some squares and have the top about 2/3 complete. I also layed out the rest of the squares (now those sweet little piles in the photo above) ready to join the remainder of the top.



I can see an end in sight with this quilt now, so as soon as I have a bit of time (hopefully by early next week, all things going well) I'll be back to stitching. . .

What projects have you had stashed away for a while in your world?

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Thursday, 21 January 2010

The Sue-dio

I’m very fortunate to have a craft space all to myself. Last year we bought our own place and it had a studio out the back – which my family promptly named “The Sue-dio”. They do like to say that the reason we ended up with this house is because it had the studio and that I didn’t even look at the house! That’s not entirely true. I mean, I was pretty sure there was a house that came with the studio!

Seriously, though, I really love our house. It’s just perfect for us. And it has a studio.

So, this is where I get to create, make a mess, be by myself if I want, or invite company in. This is where all the “stuff” is stored (or is that stashed?).

I’ve got a fantastic workbench which Gary made specifically for me. It’s handcrafted from solid Blue Gum and Ash timber. I sew most of the time standing up, so it’s a perfect height for that and also for cutting and assembling without too much back ache.



He’s inlaid an inscription in latin which translates to “prepared in mind and resources”. Well, I’m certainly prepared in resources – sometimes the mind’s not quite so prepared!



I also have these beautiful cabinets (and a matching pair with shelving behind doors) made from Tasmanian Blackwood (did I mention that Gary is a cabinet maker who loves to craft with traditional methods, and sometimes antique tools). The cabinets house “the stash” and then some!





There’s also the thread drawers, also made from Blue Gum and Ash. These are filled with Aurafil appliqué threads (Christmas present from a couple of years ago).





I know, I am VERY lucky!

When I’m working (or playing) in the Sue-dio I like to plug the iPod in and sing along (not too sure what the neighbours think of that . . .) I love having music playing while I’m busy creating, although I’ve had to make a playlist that’s just instrumental for the times I need to really concentrate or calculate or write. There’s just too much distraction for me when I’m singing to do the other stuff well. But the songs come into their own once I’m into production mode!

Sometimes the Sue-dio seems a little isolated, particularly now that it’s just Gary and I at home. But I must say that I really enjoy being able to just switch off the lights and close the door on all the chaos mid way through a project and know that it won’t be bothering anyone but me, and it’s all ready to go when I’m ready to take up needle and thread again!

Where do you create in your world?

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Remembering Nan (and String Quilts)

Thinking of my Nan today on what would have been her birthday. Thinking of her always makes my heart smile!

[caption id="attachment_470" align="aligncenter" width="489" caption="Nan (with Mum and I)"][/caption]


Nan began to patchwork when she was in her 60s. I don’t know what made her start. To my knowledge she’d never really been a sewer at all before that. She had a treadle sewing machine in the house, but I’m not sure why. She never used it! Maybe it was the companionship of the craft group she joined (she always was very social) and the craft was just secondary. But once she got going she was a pretty prolific quilter!

She was by no means the neatest sewer in town, but she pieced with a vengeance. She hand pieced, machine pieced, machine quilted, appliqued but mostly hand quilted. Everyone in the family got something from her, whether it was a cushion (or two) or something larger. By the time my cousins and I were having babies, we were inundated with cot quilts! And Nan being Nan, they were all completely machine washable and useable!

She crocheted, too, so we all have crocheted blankets tucked away for those cold winter nights. And face cloths. I’ve still got face cloths that she sent for my kids when they were in their teens! They’re tucked away now for safe keeping till the next generation of babies come along.

I wasn’t so much of a quilter when Nan was around. I did lots of other crafts. And I sewed, but mostly dressmaking back then. I remember that she got a cutting mat, which she left in the car in the middle of summer – of course it was ruined and she was quite upset. At the time I didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about. Ahh, the knowledge gained with the passage of time!!

I have been fortunate to inherit 2 of Nan’s quilts and I thought today was a good day to share, given the string quilts that everyone (except me) seems to be working on at the moment.

Both of these quilts are machine pieced and machine quilted. One has the most awful binding I’ve ever seen, which I may have to cover over one day (don’t think I could bring myself to take it off). And in true Nan style, I’m still finding tacking threads in them – just when you think there couldn’t possibly be another one!



This quilt, with it’s lovely soft floral sashings, has the most hideous mustard binding (you can catch a glimpse - if you dare - near the pillows in the photo above). Not sure what Nan was thinking with that!



Neither of these quilts are very technically perfect, but to me they are beautiful. They are both quilts that she used on her own bed  (I guess when you find a style you like, you just stick with it!), not tucked away for best (as she had a tendency to do with things – she never seemed to think she was quite good enough for best, somehow). So I feel like they were something REALLY hers.




I wish my love for this craft had come along and timed a little better with hers.  The oohs and aahs we could have shared over patterns and fabric!

A little while back, my Mum brought her friend (who had just recently discovered quilting) over to see my quilts. When we were looking at Nan’s quilts we had such a blast – all the different fabrics! My Mum recognised some of them from clothing and furniture from years back. There was quite a fabric history on show, that’s for sure! Certainly nothing purchased specifically for these quilts. They are truly scrap quilts – in all their glory!

In my sewing box I have Nan's badge from her craft group. I smile when I see it. I think of how we all – the ones here, the ones gone and the ones still to come – all of us – share this bond. The bond of sisterhood through stitching! And how lovely it is to be part of something so much bigger and long-lasting than just ourselves.



Love you Nan xoxo

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

My Tea Cup Collection

Well, I love drinking tea.

And I love cups and saucers.

I’ve got a bit of a collection now.

Some I’ve acquired for myself.

Some I’ve inherited.

Some are gifts from my family.

And I think they are lovely!

A few years ago, for my birthday, we went to our favourite picnic spot and set up for High Tea. Some guests were shocked that I had brought along my tea cups for the occasion – there were more than a couple of “but they’re too good to bring out here” kind of comments. Well, I think that if they are too good for me and my loved ones to use, then what’s the point of them.



It was fun as each person chose their cup and saucer (some of the big boys preferred big mugs, and that was OK, too) to tell the story of how each cup came to be in my collection –

* the one that my great grandmother used to use every day *


* the one my mum won as a prize in a diving competition when she was a girl *


* the ones bought at a little tiny pottery tucked away on some acreage on one of our trips to the coast *


* the ones that came from my grandmother’s house, complete with paint splatter (she never drank tea in her life, and she repainted her kitchen every year) *


* the one given to me by my children for mother’s day . . . *



I love that my collection is a working one. No, I’m not leaving them tucked away in a cupboard (although they do reside in our lovely old kitchen cabinet) for safekeeping till I’m gone. They are used regularly – and for me, that’s how it should be!



What do you collect in your world?

Monday, 18 January 2010

Unexpected Gift from a Friend

Our craft group went out for our annual Christmas Dinner a while back, which also includes a decoration swap.  This time, though, one of the girls also brought along a surprise gift for each of us.  She had commissioned one of these gorgeous artworks - for each of us!



It’s a collage Babushka by Kate Mason of Something for Kate. You have just got to check out her out. Her work is fantastic!  The texture and colours are just perfect.

So thanks Lyn for the wonderful surprise and thanks Kate for the beautiful work.

Cath's Giveaway

Check out Cath's blog. She (a) has some gorgeous Raggedy stitchery show and tell from Friday night's  Sew-In and (b) is having a giveaway to celebrate her 200th post.

Well done Cath on 200 posts!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Bears

A few years back our craft group went crazy making bears. I still have enough mohair to start a small shop, I’m sure.

I made a few bears from commercial patterns and my husband kept asking “why don’t you design your own?”

So I did!

There were many odd looking bears before I ended up with a pattern I liked!

And I liked quirky – big noses, big feet! (It has been said maybe, too big. I will admit that, on occasion, that’s been an accurate assessment!)



I entered some of them in the Canberra Show, where they did quite well.



This one was a collaboration between Gary and I . He thought tiny and made of suede would be good. It was painful to stitch and, as you can see, I didn’t do a very durable job of the joints. He’s only 11cm tall. He has tiny (1mm) glass eyes, one of which came off when my niece came to visit one day! I could never find another glass eye the same size, so it became clear that a patch was in order.



But I haven’t made a bear in quite a while. The last one I made was actually needle-felted. It was really good fun – and very cute, too. This is from a pattern by Barbara Allen, based on “Gubbifluff(with my own take on the feet!), as seen in Australian Homespun Magazine No.54 Vol 8.11. The other one, Lilly Pilly is my own design.

The little bear is 3“ (sitting) and the big one is 10“ tall (from head to toe).

I have given a lot of the bears away and have packed a few away (they used to be all over the house), but these two are a reminder that not everything you do is the focus of your life forever, and what you do leaves an impression (sometimes quite tangible, like the bears, and sometimes far more subtle but no less real). I loved making bears – and I may love making them again one day. But for now I’m happy to just enjoy what I’ve done and move on.

Are there any crafts you used to do and have moved on from in your world?

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Friday Night Sew In (or the great Craft lock-down)

Well, I did it! I finished the Cotswolds quilt top!



I put the last 2 borders on last night and I’m quite happy with it. It’s a biggie, too – 93” (238cm) square. I do like the flying geese and checkerboard borders, although there was A LOT of piecing, which I was glad to get through.



Soon this top will go off to Terina from Quilts With Attitude to be quilted. She does a fantastic job of not only the quilting, but with helping to select all things from thread colour to batting to design. I always know my quilts are in safe hands when I leave them with her.

I also had a bit of a clean up when the quilt top was done, putting away all the fabric leftovers into the stash. I have some plastic tubs which I use for ongoing projects and last night, by the time I’d finished sewing and tidying I had an empty one!!! What a great feeling!

I then gave my machine a quick service and finished up with a whole lot of enthusiasm to finish another unfinished project soon.



I’d like to say a huge thanks to Heidi and Bobbi for organising the Friday Night Sew In (and to Natima for mentioning it on her blog, which set all the wheels in motion for me). It was great to have a chunk of time set aside and actually use it productively. It’s easy to find excuses to fill the time with other things when your motivation is not what it could be, so committing to the Sew In (or Craft Lockdown, as my son referred to it) was really good for me. Thanks again ladies for your generosity in organising and co-ordinating this event. It's been very much appreciated.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Friday Night Sew-In Anyone?

Natima mentioned a Sew-In that she signed up for, courtesy of Heidi and Bobbie. I checked it out and signed up too!





So what are you doing on Friday night (15th January 2010). If you’re free, why not join in? You can sew/craft/scrapbook/whatever from the comfort of your own home and post about it on Saturday. No pressure to finish anything. Nothing to swap. Just a night in with your craft.

That’s it! How easy is that?

Will you sew-in in your world?

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Inspiration

Well, I’ve been inspired to get back into the sewing room (or Suedio as my family calls it) and start – well – sewing!

I was perusing a blog called Buddy and Me and was inspired by the quilt Sue-Anne showed called Ryland Manor. It’s just lovely. (She’s stitching circles, too!) I then followed the link to Threadbear and that was the end of me. I’ve ordered a couple of patterns – Phebe and Tribute to Mrs Williams. Both of them are fairly time-consuming, I would imagine. But both of them are just beautiful.

While I am waiting for the patterns to arrive, I thought that I should probably get to work finishing some of my longer term UFOs. I often have several projects on the go at once, but I think I’ve currently got too many. They have been hanging about for a while and as a result, I feel I’ve lost my groove a bit lately. Not enough focus, perhaps!

So, this past weekend I’ve made some progress on a quilt I started about a year and half ago, which is a Patchwork on Stonleigh pattern called The Cotswolds. I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get through this, because it’s a quilt I really loved and wanted to do.

Maybe because at the time I started it there were quite a few crises going on around me which had me in a bit of a slump.

Maybe because I have been unsure about my fabric selection.

Anyway, I’ve made progress this weekend. I’ve added 2 borders and started work on the first of the remaining 2 borders. I’m happy with my progress and once I got into a bit of a rhythm I quite enjoyed myself. The next border is a checkboard one, so quite a bit of cutting there. Followed by a large pieces border, like the last one on there at the moment, but in the darker fabrics. If I can apply myself a bit, it really shouldn't take that long to get this quilt top finished.



I’d really like to get some things finished and mentally clear out the cobwebs so that I can make a concerted (and guilt-free) start on the new projects (one at a time, of course).

What do you do to get out of a slump in your world?

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Fridge Photos

We have a birthday tradition in our family. When it’s your birthday photos of you adorn the fridge for a week. Years ago our fridge was always covered in stuff – school notes, shopping lists, photos – you name it and it was there. These days the fridge usually only gets ‘decorated’ for birthdays.

I just love taking a trip down memory lane when it comes time to get the photos out. There is a large envelope for each family member that houses their photos.



Any new ‘fridge-worthy’ photos taken during the year get added to the envelope. These days there’s not room for all the photos, so each year sees a new mix of memories on display. These photos are not the ones that are necessarily the most technically correct or visually beautiful, but they are the ones that hold special memories of moments in time captured forever.

Today is our baby’s birthday, so it’s her time to shine on the fridge. Happy Birthday Kelly!



What birthday traditions do you have in your world?

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

‘Just Because I Love It’ Fabric

I have some (read ‘lots’ - in fact little piles everywhere) fabric which I have acquired simply because it fell into the  ‘just because I love it’ category. I find, though, that with fabric that falls into that category, I tend NOT to use it.

I look at it.

I feel it.

I love it.

But I don’t use it.

What am I doing? Saving it for best? Not any more! I am using it! And I am so glad that I did.

Santa brought me Rosalie Quinlan’s book ‘A Stitch In Time’, which is just lovely.

I decided to make the little fabric basket in the book (although I didn’t put the handle on mine). And I used some of my ‘just because I love it’ fabric.



I get a bit warm and fuzzy when I see the little basket sitting there (with my favourite Scissoroo scissors in it) and in a lovely fabric.  It was a pretty quick little project – and really a girl can’t have too many fabric bags, baskets, holders . . . can she?



What are you saving your ‘just because I love it’ fabrics for?

Monday, 4 January 2010

Using up my scraps

Following on from my renewed interest in the circles and looking for ways to minimise waste, I’ve started on a new project! When I trace and cut the circles for my ‘Circles’ quilt, I’m left with these little bits of fabric – not really big enough for too much, but too big to throw out.



I’ve been adding them to my scraps stash, but thought it was high time to do something constructive with them. So I’ve embarked on a Grandmother’s Flower Garden Project. I’m not sure how big (or small) this project will be, but for now it’s keeping my attention!



I am cutting hexagons with one inch edges, pieced over paper to end up with finished edges of ½”.



So far I’ve done 12 of these little beauties. Given that this project is using scraps from another project which is not yet finished, I guess this too will be a work in progress for a while.

I’m feeling good about using up the scraps.

I’m feeling good about stitching . . . something.

And I’m enjoying the process.





What new projects have you started in your world?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Circle Progress

I mentioned here that I had acquired some more fabric for my circles. It’s amazing how a new bit of fabric can kick-start my creativity  when I’m in a bit of a slump. So I’ve started stitching circles again. I find them a really easy thing to work on when I want to keep my fingers busy, but don’t necessarily want to have to think too much about it.

I’ve added quite a few to the pile . . . another 173!!!



So my tally is currently . . . 814. Still quite a few to go, but that’s OK.

What sidelined projects have you picked up again recently?

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Nat's Blogiversary and Giveaways . . .

Not Just Nat is having a giveaway to celebrate her One Year Blogiversary. Click here to go on over to her blog and enter the draw for some fantastic giveaways!

Good luck . . .

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year

Our family enjoyed a very simple and really fun Christmas day - I think our best one yet!
Our daughter putting the Angel on the tree.

We tried not to overindulge (too much) on the traditional Christmas fare.

We had the carols playing most of the day.

We played games on the Wii.

We played Uno.

We talked.

We laughed.

We were together.

Really, it doesn’t get much better than that for me.

This year, we baked our ham with the maple glaze from Donna Hay’s magazine (issue 48) and it was a huge hit. The vegies roasted beautifully with the glaze, too. The trifle was full of berries and other fruits and really tasty. There were sweets and gingerbread. And leftovers for dinner.

How is it that Christmas seems to come around quicker every year? And how is it that once it's here it's gone in the blink of an eye?

And with Christmas behind us, I’m looking forward to the new year. 2009 was filled with change, loss, and health worries. But good things too – new home, newly engaged daughter, new outlook.

I’m hoping for a 2010 that is SIMPLE.

Simple – as in having what we need and being joyous with that.

Simple – as in uncluttered thoughts and actions.

Simple.

Wishing you and yours a safe and happy new year. May 2010 be good to you and those in your world!

Traditions

It’s funny how you create traditions without even realising it.

When our kids were little we would let them take turns putting the angel on the top of the Christmas tree. One year (1997) we couldn’t remember whose turn it was. So we sorted that out and I decided to make a note so we wouldn’t have the same dilemma the following year. I tucked the note in with the angel and it worked really well.

I wasn’t really a documenter back then.

I wasn’t thinking about how in a few years time I’d want to scrapbook about the things we do and that the bit of paper I tucked in with the angel would become so important to me. So I just grabbed a bit of notepaper. It’s a scratchy old bit of probably not very archivally safe paper. But boy does it hold some history!



It is so much more than just a list now. The kids each wrote their names and the year it was their turn. It’s great looking back and seeing how their writing has changed. And remembering how they each in turn were happy to let the other one have their turn without argument.

This year both our children left home. But we still had to get together to decorate the tree (even though they both had trees of their own). This year they thought it should be our turn to put the angel on the tree. But it just wouldn’t be the same if one of them didn’t do it. So the list came out again this year. And the paper’s just about filled up.  So next year when we need a new bit of paper to continue our tradition, it will be archivally safe – for me and for them. Because this is one tradition I don’t want to lose.

What traditions have you created in your world?
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