Sunday, 30 December 2012

2012 In Review

Looking back . . .

There have been ups.

And there have been downs.

But we've come through it all in tact.

It hasn't always been what we've expected. Or thought we needed.

Yet we are strong. Still here. And ready to embrace whatever the future brings.

So, as we farewell 2012, this is a snapshot of the past 12 months - my year in review . . .

Row 1: New year - good food & company | Celebrating a special birthday | Re-framing vintage bark artwork | Dahlias | Discovering Instagram
Row 2: Family dinners | Playing with buttons | Christmas cross stitching | Me | Union Jack Quilt
Row 3: Discovering cake pops | Hot drinks & good conversation | Stitching | Cooking with fresh food | Vintage cases & tins
Row 4: Autumn colours | Easter stitching | Pear samplers | Boiled eggs for breakfast | Christmas canvas work
Row 5: 60th Jubilee cross stitch | Broken ankle | Stitched words | Felt robot | Relaxing at the beach
Row 6: Knitting | Enjoying nature | Matching shoes | Picnics | Christmas 

Looking forward . . . to 2013 and all that it has to offer . . .

Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas

From our home to yours . . .

As you make special memories today, may you enjoy a safe and happy Christmas. I hope this day brings you love and laughter, peace and contentment . . .

Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Surrogate Angel

tradition [trəˈdɪʃən]n
1. the handing down from generation to generation of the same customs, beliefs, etc., esp by word of mouth
2. the body of customs, thought, practices, etc., belonging to a particular country, people, family, or institution over a relatively long period
3. a specific custom or practice of long standing

One of our Christmas traditions includes our kids taking turns, year about, to put the angel on the top of the tree . . . they may be grown up now, but the tradition continues.

Last year we got a living tree, which was a bit small for the angel, so we had to find her a new temporary location at short notice - she went on top of a nearby cupboard!

This year, the tree it still too small, so we're going with a surrogate angel.

She's a little lighter on the fragile top branches. She's not quite as regal. But I think she's pretty cute.

So we're not breaking with tradition, just modifying a little. After all, you've got to do what you've got to do!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Civil War Sampler - My Block In Print

I was thrilled to receive a copy of Barbara Brackman's 'Civil War Sampler' in the post this week . . .

This was a block of the week project that I worked on during 2011, hosted by Barbara to commemorate the sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the American Civil War. Along with thousands of others from all across the globe, each week I waited to see what the new pattern would be, and the story from the Civil War that accompanied it. Barbara's since gone on to publish this book, which includes all the stories and blocks used in the quilt. In the book, Barbara shows the 'original' blocks, stitched by Becky Brown, along with alternative blocks made by stitchers all around the world participating in the block of the week.

And one of my blocks was chosen, representing the alternative 'New England Block'. So there it is, in print for posterity!

Thanks so much to Barbara for running this project . . . and she's got a new one planned - 2013 - Dixie Diary. This project will be a block per month for 12 months. Each monthly block will include a story taken from "one of the great Civil War documents - Sarah Morgan's Confederate Girl's Diary", first published almost 100 years ago in 1913.

It's been a while since I've had a needle and thread in my hand. This may be just the thing to get my sewing back on track!

Pattern: Civil War Sampler
Designer: Barbara Brackman

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Diamond Jubilee Stitching . . .

Finished ... Diamond Jubilee cross stitch.

I've never really thought of myself as particularly being a royalist. Although being a teenager in the era of Lady Di certainly piqued my interest in the royals. And how could you not be drawn in by William and Kate's wedding last year?

But I must say I've been captivated by the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. I mean, how many people celebrate 60 years in one job? So while browsing the internet on Diamond Jubilee-related matters I came across this pattern by Nia . . .

I knew I wanted to stitch it, but I wasn't sure what to do with it once it was done. Well, since I've accumulated a few magazines about the royal family, why not make a bag to keep them in? ("Another bag???" asks my husband with an air of disbelief!!! At least this one has a purpose . . .)

I've used some wonderful felted wool fabric for the outer bag. And a cute little spot for the lining and handle (goes nicely with the spots in the letters, I think).

This pattern used some silk threads which, while I didn't love using them, look really rich when they are done - they have a lovely sheen. And a few metallic threads too. After all, what else would you use for a crown? And I really like the cute bunting . . . and the little Union Jack . . .

I'm really pleased that this piece is stitched up and will be useful - not just another unfinished project languishing in the cupboard. Happy Jubilee QEII . . .

Pattern: Diamond Jubilee
Designer: Nia Rhind

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Knitting . . . the Continental Way

Knitting face cloths using lovely organic cotton . . .

I should mention from the start that I'm not really much of a knitter. Don't get me wrong, I can knit a plain scarf (preferably in a textured fiber that's very forgiving) as well as the next person. But consistent tension is a technique that eludes me. So plain and simple knitting it is!

Recently I was browsing at Steph's in Moroya and on display was the most lovely knitted face cloth. I'm a tactile person, so the gentle feel of the cotton cloth won me over instantly. And I bought the kit (which included the pattern, a ball of organic cotton and a glorious handmade soap). But not content with the kit  . . . and not worrying about the fact that (as previously mentioned) I'm not much of a knitter, I loaded up with other colours, too. And visions of knitting up these glorious face cloths for Christmas gifts for one and all!

I am pleased with the end result (although I did change my knitting technique half way through after reading about the "Continental" method and watching this tutorial, which seems to suit me much better than the "English" method). I still plan to make a couple more, but I'm not willing to commit to which Christmas . . . I may be OK with the knitting, but I am certainly not fast!!

Pattern: Spa Day Facecloth
Designer: Anne Mancine

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Christmas Planner

Is it too soon to be planning for Christmas?

Inspired by Pinterest, I decided to make myself a little Christmas Planner/Organiser.

I'm a list kind of girl ordinarily, so this is an expansion on the list on a scrap of paper I might usually have in my handbag! It's a fair bit prettier than the scrap of paper. And it's not too big to manage - 4" x 6 12/" when it's folded up.

Using a sheet of chocolate cardstock I had on hand, I added papers from the Kaisercraft 6 1/2" Paper Pad. With it's gorgeous vintage reds, greens and creams (and I love the name "Twig & Berry"), it all came together pretty well. I can slip my lists - Cards, Decorating, Gifts & Food - into the pockets and carry it with me to make notes when inspiration strikes!!! With the stitched on button and twine to wrap around for a closure, it's easy to use.

Now all I have to do is make those lists . . . and plan the gifts . . . and write the cards . . . and  . . .

Is it too soon to be planning for Christmas?

Paper: Kaisercraft "Twig & Berry"
Twine: Maya Road TC2137 "Watermelon"

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Spring has sprung

Or has Winter returned??

These blossoms found there way into our house recently, being beautiful debris from the birds that love to feast on the ornamental plum tree in our front garden. The blossom's on the trees for such a short time - it seems we just notice it and then some wild weather or a storm and the blooms are gone for another year and the leaves start peeking through. We've been loving the glorious spring days, right up until a couple of days ago when we had snow!!!

Good old Mother Nature - it seems she loves to maintain an air of mystery . . .

Friday, 5 October 2012

Words . . .

I was inspired by "A Handbook of Lettering for Stitchers" to make something using different colours and stitches. So I decided to use some words that are meaningful to me . . .

I started by typing the words and playing with different fonts. Then I just arranged the words until they looked OK to me. Using a light box I traced the words onto a piece of linen that I had and set about choosing colours . . .

I really enjoyed the "freedom" of the different stitch and colour combinations. I like the various textures created by the different stitches and changing the number of strands of thread . . .

I was a bit undecided about what to do with this once I'd finished stitching. In the end I decided to frame it. I trimmed up the linen using large (7mm) scalloped fabric shears. And then added a freeform border, mixing some short running stitch and long straight stitches.

And the words?

Happy - happy with what I have, what I do, who I am
Healthy - in good health - balanced physically and mentally
Wealthy - having what I need, when I need it (which for me is very different to just having lots of stuff or money)
Worthy - remembering that I am worthy of living a good life
Wise - for me is about knowing myself well, therefore being better able to understand others and make sound choices
Kind - to myself and to others . . . always

Fabric: Linen
Threads: DMC 3340, 726, 316, 793, 326, 3766

Saturday, 29 September 2012

A Robot and Matching Shoes

All the boys in our family are "gadget guys" . . . if there is a knob or button to fiddle with, you can bet they will find it. So when one of the "gadget guys" was celebrating a birthday recently, this little Robot (from Anni Downs' "A Boys Story" book) was the perfect choice to complement a robot-themed gift.

Aside from the obvious "cute" factor, this little guy was fun to put together using bits of felt from my stash. And it was nice to be stitching again!!!

I'm pleased to say that I'm back on my feet again . . .

So it's farewell to the moon boot which had been my constant companion for 7 weeks (but did afford me a considerable amount of mobility, for which I am VERY grateful) . . .

And hello to matching shoes . . .

I hadn't realised before what a luxury this was, but I won't be taking my new-found mobility for granted again any time soon!

Pattern: Robot
Designer: Anni Downs

Sunday, 22 July 2012

No Mobility and No Mojo

Well, a bit of mobility (if the truth be told) . . . But definitely no mojo!

I've broken my ankle, which has put me out of action for a bit. I'm pretty well set up on the lounge with all the remotes at my fingertips, so I can't complain too much.

But my mojo's been gone for quite a while now. I've lost my groove. I'm in a slump.

And I don't like it.

I'm not sure quite what to do about it.

I've started looking at blogs again, so hopefully that's a good sign. A bit of inspiration. Hopefully some motivation.

I was starting to think that maybe I'm not a sewer anymore . . . but I've got way too much fabric stashed to stop now !!!

And my photography has dwindled to almost nothing . . . but I'm fully stocked with scrapbooking supplies and plenty of stories to tell - eventually.

I'm confident (or at least hopeful) that this is a temporary slump. So, while I'm not exactly stitching up a storm (even though this would be a perfect time to do so), I've got some books to read and some movies to watch while I sit with my foot up! Who knows . . . Maybe a break from my normal routine is just what I need to get my creative juices flowing again.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

When Tomorrow Starts Without Me

In loving memory of our special niece and cousin, who fought a very brave battle with Batten's Disease. Loving you always, Chloe xoxo 

When tomorrow starts without me, and I’m not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes all filled with tears for me,
I wish so much you wouldn't cry the way you did today,
While thinking of the many things we didn't get to say.

I know how much you love me, as much as I love you,
And each time that you think of me, I know you'll miss me to;
But when tomorrow starts without me, please try to understand
That an angel came and called my name, and took me by the hand,
And said my place was ready, in heaven far above,
And that I'd have to leave behind all those I dearly love.

But as I turned to walk away, a tear fell from my eye,
For all my life, I'd always thought, I didn't want to die.

I had too much to live for, so much yet to do,
It seemed almost impossible that I was leaving you.

So when tomorrow starts without me, don't think we're far apart,
For every time you think of me, I'm right here, in your heart.

By David Romano

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Little Sheep Canvas Work

In keeping with the "little" pieces of stitching I've been doing this year, I recently finished this "Little Sheep" canvas work.

Originally stitched with a blue background by Sylvia, I instantly fell in love with this pattern. And then I was inspired to do the pink background when I saw Chris's piece on Fiona's blog. I'm so pleased with how it turned out . . . it's very tiny . . . and very cute.

Maybe I'll have to make it in blue, too!

Pattern: Little Sheep Canvas Work
Designer: Sylvia Frazer, inspired by a Penny Winter Design

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Tiny Christmas Canvas

I absolutely loved working on this tiny little Christmas canvas piece. It's only 2 inches square.

What is it about miniature things that fascinates me so?

This little piece has a Christmas tree, complete with tinsel decorations.

But . . . if I'm being honest . . . it's really the wreath of French knots on the front door that I love the most. I couldn't wait to get all the stitching done to add this last little detail!

Pattern: Christmas Canvas Work
Designer: Sylvia Frazer

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

How Do You Store Your Hoops?

I got myself a new embroidery hoop a little while ago . . . it's a Morgan Multi-Purpose Lap Stand, which seems to work really well for me. It frees up my hands for the actual business of stitching. The ribbed inner hoop helps to keep the fabric nice and taut when required. And it's pretty versatile with the 2 sizes of hoop.

But how should I store it when I'm not using it? Hmmm? I mean, there are 2 hoops and the 3 posts. So what's the best solution?

In a bag, of course!

But, of all the bags I've gathered over time, none of them were quite right.

So naturally one had to be made!

I decided on a satchel style and I'm quite pleased with the results . . . I love the fabric, and I also got to use a couple of vintage buttons that I've had sitting waiting for just the right thing.

Now I've got a cute storage solution, as well as a handy tote if I need to take the hoops out with me. All in all, this little hoop bag suits my requirements perfectly.

What's the best way you've found to store your hoops?

Fabric: Etchings by 3 Sisters for Moda

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

You learn something new every day

Like Huckaback Embroidery, or Swedish Huck Weaving.

I never knew until today that that's the name for this embroidery. It had never occurred to me that it had an actual name, that it was a style in its own right. It's always just been that thing that I made at school!

This is a piece that I made in maybe 5th or 6th grade. I have a really vague recollection of making this. I can almost remember the feel of the needle sliding under the top threads (you don't see any of the coloured threads on the back of the work). It's pretty wonky on the side hems. And it's a got a yellow age spot that won't come out. Otherwise it's in pretty good condition for being somewhere around 35 or 36 years old. These days it lines one of the drawers in my bedroom . . .

I'd never really given too much thought to this bit of embroidery (it's funny how I see my grandmother's work as an heirloom, but I've not really thought of my own like that before), but looking at - really looking at it - today, I don't think I did too badly with it. The very structured, geometric style certainly appeals to my sense of order. I may end up trying this type of embroidery again one day!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Seasonal Stitching

One of the projects from a previous Stitching On The Lake day was this cute little Santa stitchery . . .

Originally designed to be appliqued on to a star decoration, I decided to mix things up a bit.

I've made a little wallet. It could be used for lots of things - like stitching supplies or gift cards. . . this one will be a gift, filled with a variety of sachets of delicious tasting teas - hopefully a perfect gift for the recipient who has everything.

This project was satisfying for me on a few levels, aside from the pleasure of the actual stitching . . . completing a project that's just been waiting to be done, using supplies from my stash and also getting a head start on Christmas gifts. I'm enjoying the feeling of being just a little bit ahead of the game (for now) . . .

Pattern: Sylvia's Stitched Santa Star Decoration
Designer: Sylvia Frazer

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A Pair of Pears

I really did enjoy stitching the cute little alphabet sampler . . . so much so, that I just had to chart up and stitch a numbers sampler to match!

I've used another variegated thread, this time a Cosmo "Seasons" thread. I really love the brown, blue, green combination of this one.

And the felted woven wool is just a pleasure to work with. If you haven't worked with this before, and you get the chance, you really should - it's quick and easy . . . and it looks great. In fact, I think it looks so good, you could easily make up a batch of these pears in just the wool, front and back.

Filled with the silica sand, these pears are nice and heavy. Great for pincushions or paperweights. Or just looking pretty!

Pattern: Pear Alphabet Sampler
Designer: Samplers and Santas
Fabric: 27 count linen, overdyed, Four Ewes Hand dyed felted woven wool
Thread: Cosmo "Seasons" 8050

Friday, 13 April 2012

What A Pear

As soon as I saw the sample of this on the Samplers and Santas blog I knew that I wanted to stitch it.

And now I have.

And I love it!

I haven't used traditional pear colours, but I can live with that. It's only little - about 5 1/2" to the top of the stalk. But it's got a bit of substance to it from the silica sand filling.

This project's got all the elements I'm loving at the moment . .


Cross stitch.

Variegated thread.

Felted woven wool.

Heavy pincushion.

Now all it's missing is a mate . . . a numbers sampler pear-haps???

Pattern: Pear Alphabet Sampler
Designer: Samplers and Santas
Fabric: 27 count linen, overdyed, Four Ewes Hand dyed felted woven wool
Thread: Weeks Dye Works, Holiday Collection, 4105, Noel

Tuesday, 10 April 2012


Or is that hot...cross...buns? Well, there were some of those, too. But I've also taken advantage of the beautiful days over this Easter break to do a little cross stitching . . .

This trio of rabbits is perfect for a little lavender-filled satchet . . . a cute little chocolate substite for a diabetic. I've used some vintage ribbon and the lavender was grown and dried by a friend.

Pattern: Easter Bunnies
Designer: Alexandrina
Fabric: 28 count Even Weave Linen
Thread: Anchor 1360
Size: 4 3/8" x 2 3/8"

And this is a colour combination I've been wanting to use for a while . . . nice rich buttercup thread on a french blue linen. I'm not sure quite what I want to do with this now that it's done, but I really like it. Not just the colours, but also the whimsical childhood feel that it has. I think I'll be working with this combination again.

Pattern: Pasqua
Designer: Luli
Fabric: 32 count Belfast Linen, French Blue/Spruce
Thread: DMC 676
Size: 8 1/2" x 1 3/4"

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Sprocket Pillows

As soon as I discovered the tutorial for these Sprocket Pillows I just knew I had to make one . . . or maybe two!

I made the 16" version and I modified it a bit - I didn't use the side gusset, but rather just joined front and back for a flatter version.

These were a spur of the moment thing, and using only what I had on hand. I had leftovers from the Fat Jack quilt and linen left over from a table cloth I made for the backing. I re-purposed a couple of dis-used cushions for the filling. And a couple of over-sized vintage buttons from my big button jar to pinch them in at the centre (that's a big jar, not just big buttons!!).

I found it so satisfying to use up supplies that I already had. Don't get me wrong, I love the special-ness of something new, that's for sure. But to take some bits that are just waiting for a purpose . . . and then give them that purpose - that adds a little something extra for me.

What have you re-purposed lately?

Pattern: Sprocket Pillows
Designer: Cluck Cluck Sew

Thursday, 15 March 2012

How do you gift wrap bottles?

My son has given various bottles as gifts now . . . and as the king of innovative gift wrapping he wanted something more than a paper gift bag. I should have taken pictures of the cool woven ribbon wrapping he did at Christmas, but I did get this one of the over-sized "gift" box he created . . .

So I was drafted in as the maker of fabric bottle bags.

The bags are really simple and quick to make. They only take a piece of fabric about 17" x 12" (plus a bit extra to make the tie if you don't want to use ribbon).

A side seam.

A bottom seam (plus bag corners if you want it to fit nicely at the bottom).

And a hem around the top. You can't go too far wrong . . .

Putting my high school needlework lessons to good use, I stitched french seams, so it's nice and neat inside - no lining required. It's been a great opportunity to use fabric that I've had for a while, just waiting for the right project. So everyone wins - a happy son, a happy gift recipient, and a bit of stash-busting for me!

Fabric: Pointillist Palette by Debra Lunn & Michael Mrowka for Robert Kaufman Co., Inc

Saturday, 10 March 2012


10 years ago, one of these gorgeous little golden waggly tails chose us. Second from the left. A little more yellow than the others. Quiet. Gentle. Snuggly.

Grace. Little Gracie. Gracie Lou.

She chose us. To be her family. Her humans.

She quickly became a partner in crime with her chocolate companion - quite the dynamic duo.

Between them, they demolished several garden watering systems and countless plants and pots. In true partnership style, one loved the plants and one loved the pots . . . so they worked together and made a happy team!

She was just born to be a companion. She loved company - canine and human.

She loved to be scratched and petted and brushed. She loved the water. She loved her food. And she loved us.

This week she left us.

Unexpectedly. Suddenly. And forever.

But she left us infinitely better than she found us. Better for having had the privilege of her beautiful, gentle spirit in our lives.

She will be missed. She will be forever treasured. And always loved.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Fat Jack

I've been bitten by the Union Jack bug . . .

So I thought I'd have a go at making my own. I used the tutorial from Lily's Quilts. And then modified it. First of all I thought I would halve the size and maybe make a bag front from it. But then I decided to double the size.

It's now hanging on our lounge room wall, looking somewhat British. Now some cushions to match???

Pattern: Double Fat Jack
Designer: Lily's Quilts
Finished Size: 62" (157cm) long x 48 1/4" (123cm) wide
Fabrics: "Etchings" by 3 Sisters for Moda and "Remembrence" by Brannack & Patek for Moda
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