Tuesday 29 September 2015

Tilt your head to the right side please!

Before I start, two apologies.
It's been a while, I know, but as you will see here, I have been rather busy elsewhere.
And secondly.
 He took some of the following pictures and saved them, try as I might, I cannot get them to sit up nicely. Hence the need to tip your head to the right. 
It was a public holiday here in South Canterbury New Zealand yesterday. (Monday)
So the weekend was go, go, go in the garden.
I had a good tidy up and pulled plenty of weeds.
 And got to get up close and personal with some wonderful flora.
I love the Helebores or winter roses.
I knew them as Christmas roses back on the Isle of Man as they flower at midwinter/Christmas time.
 My crop of brassicas that have been in all winter are now starting to produce.
 My broccoli are tennis ball sized.
No sign of a tennis ball in the Cauliflower though.
And would you just look at this cherry tree.
Now for the sideways photos!
After the weeding it was time for planting.
In went the lemon tree.
 I have spent almost a year digging over and weeding this patch in preparation for planting. I was hoping to have some raised beds, but got impatient, so made up these little plots with timber reclaimed from another cleared area.
On Monday I finally put in plants.
Leeks, Spring onions, cauli, broccoli, beetroot and spinach.
 Another small bed will be going in this coming weekend, to the left of it. (Or the top in this picture!!)
Plenty of room for some tomatoes against the fence, some beans and some squash.
I'm really looking forward to harvesting my own home grown vegges.
 The planting trend continued in the greenhouse.
The beets at the end have been there all winter, in fact we harvested some yesterday and ate them with dinner. The flavour was not as strong as I expected. We were told today that beets grown in a green house are not as nice as those grown out doors.
Newly planted are tomatoes, capsicums, chillis, basil and a second batch of spring onions.
While I was pulling weeds, and putting in veggie plots, he was destroying.
There was a ratty old pergola here and a raised bed.
Now they are both gone. His next task will be to take out an old wooden arch and another small raised bed, in preparation for removing this daisy, dandelion and weed patch er turf and laying a lovely new lawn.
We're getting there!
One day we will have a lovely garden.
I'm discovering lots of new growth popping up all over the place, some of it I recognise and some is new to me. I'll share pictures as we move through the year.
Crafty wise I have been doing a little cross stitch, but not much else.
I have threads to bury on the white quilt I was using as a practice piece in my frame, before I practice on it some more.
I have plans and ideas and of course the Christmas quilt is still whispering to me......
I gifted the caramel stars quilt to a colleague.
She likes it and wondered how she would keep her dogs off it!
Time to go sit with my cross stitch.

Sunday 20 September 2015

Quilted and inspected.

 As you can see I put the border around the caramel stars.
 Then set about quilting it!!
 Love this square design. Very simple to do.
 I wasn't so sure about what I wanted to do in the border. I'm not overjoyed with the loop- de - loops.
But that was what I came up with.
I have to say, it's quite difficult to quilt when the inspector is lying on floor at one end of the frame.
I think maybe she was inspecting it from the underside.
Or maybe she just wanted to play?
Time to go bury thread ends, while I mull over the binding....

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Having Fun.

Well I've been a busy girl!!
My Caramel coloured quilt is almost a complete top. I just need to add a border, then quilt and bind.
Speaking of quilting...
I loaded this quilt into my frame the other day. It's one I finished many years ago
 I was pretty naive back them and made many mistakes. 
It was also a QAYG piece. Over the years the Dresden plates have started to come off, at times I have re attached some of them using various fancy stitches on my machine.
Some of the hand sewn seams in the back had also opened up. I have restitched them by hand.
The quilting was always very simple and basic. Echoing the shape of the plates and in the plain squares a very simple heart.
Well, I had fun playing on my frame.
Some of the plates now have the flowery pattern you see below, not perfect, but better than it was and less likely to fall off!!
 Some of the hearts now have a tight little meander and all of the back ground has a wider meander.
It's not finished yet, but I decided to take it off the frame and bury some threads before I go any further with it and it frees up the frame for my latest creation.
I learned a lot in the short time I had it on the frame and thoroughly enjoyed myself too.
 One of the things I learned is just how many bobbins a larger quilt will require.
 Belle kept a close eye on the bobbin winder for me.
I need a quick trip into town to buy more bobbins!!
It pays to have several all wound up and ready to go!
Then later today I get to play some more.

Monday 14 September 2015

New Zealands No 1 Quilt and Craft Fair.

On Friday, Debs and I set out for Christchurch.
We had tickets to attend the Craft and Quilt fair at Wigram Air Force museum.
I had been led to believe that it would be something akin to the exhibition I used to attend in Birmingham England.
Hmm, I was misled. :-(
We got chatting with some other ladies who told us that last year, it was much, much BIGGER!! and better.
Never mind, Debbie and I enjoyed our day and having less to see and fewer shops meant that there was time for us to take in a couple of demonstrations.
That was fun and we were both inspired by them.
Debbie especially so by a quilt as you go technique.
There was a small exhibition and I took a few photos.
Sorry, I forgot to get details of sewers. 

 I loved seeing the ANZAC/Poppy quilts. 
 They were all minis at about 10 - 12 inches square.

 Debs and I spent some time looking at the healthy Kiwi. We saw many of the fabrics which I recently used in a charm quilt.
 Debbie is now collecting those same fabrics to make herself a foody table cloth.
 Look at the amazing quilting on this bee quilt. I wonder if I will ever be that clever?

 And I loved this quilt. I believe the quilter has used the fancy stitches in her sewing machine to make this circle pattern.
 There were a few vendors, some better than others. Sadly not as many quilty vendors as I would have liked, but it was billed as a craft and quilt fair. 
 Of course we shopped.
I ordered a book from the same lady who did the QAYG demo that Debs was so taken with.
Hopefully that will be here soon.
I also bought patterns, pens and buttons
We stopped on the way home at Annies Country Quilt store, well you have to don't you? Since we were passing....
I bought a wee kit, some quilting threads and a new cutting mat as mine is incredibly tatty!
I had hoped to spend time sewing yesterday, but alas the sun was shining and Mr Heron was making noises about working outside.
We worked out there for quite some time. I weeded my vege patch and planted silver beets. And also had a tidy up of my wee collection of herbs. Then we set to and had a go along the back fence, where it was so over planted, over grown and neglected.
Last summer I had started cutting back many of the shrubs and had left some stumps in the ground. Tony pulled loads of those yesterday and we made some decisions about what else had to go and what would stay.
We have planned a second vege patch and Tony talked with his brother about ripping out the weed patch that passes for a lawn and starting again.
The green house is looking good. My garlic, spring onions and baby beets are growing well.
Several little surprises have appeared around the garden as spring makes the days even warmer.
Snow drops, Daffodils and Narcissus have appeared. Along with some hyacinth and muscari. I also see some Iris just starting to show green again. I had seen pansy and viola leaves amid the weeds and carefully worked around them, they are now flowering. Two beautiful Helebores have appeared. in a beautiful deep burgundy colour.
The trees that shed their leaves are also starting to show signs of life again. Our two cherry trees are covered in buds, some are starting to turn pink. 
I really should get out there with the camera.
But not today.
Today I sew.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Moving up!

So, you know in my last blog post, how I mentioned that if I wanted to have a try at a pantograph I would have to move my quilting frame away from the wall and that it might create certain issues?
Well, I happened to make the same or a very similar comment to my lovely husband over lunch.
And he said....
"Why don't we give it a try now love? No time like the present"
My wee frame was duly pulled away from the wall and my wee desk was also moved.
Then he said....
"Why don't we extend it out to the full length now? You've had a practice, time to go up."
So out came the bits!
 And by dinner time, it was a full length (120 inch) quilting frame!
I must say we did have a 2 hour visit from his folks in the afternoon, which meant we had to down tools!
 I thought it was BIG before!
Now it is HUGE!
It takes up a great amount of space, and as I thought we had to have a good shuffle around of other furniture.
 The stash drawers are all the way around on the other side of the frame now. 
 And my poor wee desk is out in the hall. :-(
Of course the cloth leaders I made for the 60 inch version are no good on a 120 inch frame.So out I went yesterday and bought ticking to make new ones.
My laptop now shares a table with my sewing machine, fine while I'm building blocks, not sure how that will work out once I start putting blocks together and I need more room.
I also shoved the work tables along the wall and popped my chair around the corner, so I sit with my back to the lovely warm sun. (That was bliss yesterday, while I was making the leaders, my poor back was so sore after all the maneuverings, the warmth was lovely.)
So, now sewing on Sunday.
Functional sewing on Monday.
Work on Tuesday!
I WILL play tomorrow!

P.S. This is post number 1000!
What a chatterbox!

Sunday 6 September 2015

There was a certain amount of swearing...

While he was up there.
 Drilling and screwing and making sure things are level.
 While he did all of that.
She did this!!
 And now we have this.
This is the sight that greets anyone who comes in through my front door!
And that weird pokey wee shelf that I never really liked, is hidden. :-)
Love it!
Thank you Mr. xx
Love you too.
The charming stars blocks are progressing.
I made three yesterday.
So quick and easy to put together.
I'm not being too fussy about the points, they are not perfect, but they are not truly wonky either.
They work for me.
Just a few more and I will have enough for a lovely little lap quilt.
Just enough to snuggle under on a cool evening.
Then I get to play with the quilting frame again.
I was looking at pantograph quilting patterns this morning.
Doing something like that would mean moving the frame away from the wall though, as I would need access to both sides.
Hmm, that would create issues!!
And necessitate a big shift about in this room.
The wee desk at which I'm sat would have to go.
And I suspect so too would the ironing board.
I think for the time being I'll stick to FMQ!
From the front of the frame.
I plan to spend the rest of my Sunday making stars.

Friday 4 September 2015

New beginnings.

 As we all know, the beauty of a finish...
(See previous post)
Means a new start.
Well, I dithered and dallied and changed my mind several times.
 I looked through books and magazines, I went shopping and stash diving.
I trawled the internet and eventually, went looking in the UFO boxes!!
I found these white and off white charms all stitched to scrappy charms.
I wasn't happy with the results, so they sat in a box for who knows how long.
Last night I decided to start pulling them apart while I pondered my next move.
Then I sorted the charms into colour values and inspiration struck.
A dig through my scraps and fat quarter collection revealed a few more fabrics.
I don't think I need to go shopping, but if I see something that might fit, I won't stop myself! LOL
So I see plenty of pressing and cutting happening this morning.
I swapped shifts to help a colleague, so  start work at 1 O'clock, which gives me a couple of hours of play time.
Using what was already cut I came up with this charming little beauty.
 Before I plug the iron in and get busy....
I gifted the Kiwiana quilt to my colleague.
She cried the happiest of tears and was genuinely moved by my gift.
Then proceeded to show it off all morning.
Several of my colleagues oohed and aahed over that wee quilt. 
It made me feel quite self conscious.
About that shopping I mentioned earlier.
I've had these two charm packs for some time, but when I saw fat quarters in the same fabrics I had to grab some.
 A quick poke through the scrap bin revealed the red and blue knotty fabrics at the bottom of this picture, the shop owners daughter asked if I was 'into all that nautical stuff', then she went digging out at the back of the store and returned with the rest of the collection you see here.
Oh Joy! Even a panel!!
 I'm sure I'll come up with a plan for that little lot!!
And one or two other bits fell out of the scrap bin too.
As they do!
 And finally for today, cause all of this writing is taking up valuable quilty time!!
My Christmas cake which was smelling so divine the other day is all cooled and packed away safely, I'll let it rest for a week then start feeding it with brandy.
This will be one cake where eating and driving is NOT recommended.
I hear the iron calling.
I hope you're as excited about your latest project as I am about mine.