Thursday, 30 October 2008

A Pleasant Quandry

I have 4 quilts on their way to new owners. One being hand-delivered interstate, and 3 in the mail - one intrastate, one interstate and one international. And to be honest, I've been thinking more about them arriving safely than receiving my own ALQS and EBDQS quilts. Which, when you think about it, is a rather nice way to be! But this afternoon that changed! And had I had the slightest inkling that this beauty could be heading my way, it would've changed a lot earlier! (click to see detail - think I've got it worked out so you can at last!)
If the name on the envelope hadn't tipped me, the beautiful wrapping and the snowflake backing might have. Somehow thrown by a remark on the amazing Margaret's blog, I assumed it wasn't leaving her home country. But It has found it's perfect home here. My only quandry - am I allowed to keep a Christmas quilt on my wall year-round?! Because I'd really like to!
Margaret acknowledged violating the swap guidelines about no holiday quilts, but since I snuck in a Christmas tree in the quilting of the quilt I sent her in the Summer edition of the Four Seasons Quilt Swap, I think it's only fair! And she couldn't have made anything I'd love more.
As is usual with Margaret's quilts, the design, execution and detail are breath-taking.
The crystals and beads add a wonderful dimension.
And her intricate quilting is just beautiful, putting my stipples to shame! Check out the quilted glow of the candle! And I love that as a piece of her home, the background is covered with swirling snow. Little does she know how much I'd love a snowy Christmas, too!
And as the perfect finishing touch, James and Eleanor's initials on the stockings! James was thrilled by this - especially as I've promised to make them both stockings for this Christmas!
"There's an 'E' for Eleanor and a....?"
"James for me!!!"
Thank you, thank you, thank you Margaret!

PS - to those of you offering to have it if I didn't like it - not a hope!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Directly overhead

Tonight you get a bit of everything.
At my parents' house this afternoon, this helicopter was literally circling overhead, much to James' delight. We found out that after a high-speed chase across town, the driver ran off, and while being chased on foot somehow doubled-back and nicked-off in the police car, torching it not far from my parents' place. He then took off again, last seen running through my old high school (about 500m away) and therefore directly towards my parents' house. While watching the helicopter from the back balcony, we saw an unmarked police car drive slowly up the driveway and back, and by the time we came home an hour or so later, there were police at every corner, and unmarked cars all over the place. He was eventually caught later in the evening, seeking treatment for burns at RAH!
I've been working on stars this evening - very fiddly, but the sections I showed last night are all joined into half-stars. I've completed one for my own satisfaction - and love it! I ended up trying a new way of avoiding sewing the foundation papers into tight folded corners, and it seems to have worked really well; sew 2 sections together as usual, but when joining pairs of sections, fold the seam allowance back, sew to the seam, then backstitch a short way. Then trim, press the seam open, and stitch the 2 halves (each 4 sections) together, doubling back over the centre before continuing.
This morning, after delivery of another birthday parcel for James, some more fabric arrived for me. Some bright blues, because I have a lot of blues, but not many bright:
Fresh greens for a quilt for James' favourite child carer who's recently moved to Queensland:
Some aquas for a very special project:
Some backing for another very speical project:
And 6 repeats of this panel to use with my 'One Block Wonders' book:
Stash = 945m.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

From James' mouth #1

We'd rung Simon the other day, but he couldn't talk to James because he was in training:

"Is he toilet training, Mummy?"

Sensing a theme

Following on from Twinkle, Twinkle (which was posted across the country today) my next quilt will be called Little Star. It needs 64 of each of these foundation-pieced units. I've done all the purple-centred ones, and am about 3/4 of the way through the pink-centred ones. Lots of sewing, pressing and trimming to come!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Sunday Stash #4 - More Hyakryoran

I'm going for a really easy Sunday Stash post today - the other two colourways of the fabric I showed last week!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Happy 3rd Birthday James!

Today James turned 3! It doesn't seem that long since his last birthday! We're saving his party, a picnic in a park, for when Simon's parents get back from their holiday in New Zealand, so today was fairly quiet. This morning we gave him a Thomas the Tank Engine (or, as he usually says, Thomas the Tankation - got that on video this morning, too!) duplo set and a 3-wheel scooter. Then Simon took him down to the beach for an early swim and to sail his toy boat - unfortunately he missed my parents while he was out. Eleanor and I stayed home and baked some chocolate cupcakes then collected him before Simon's sailing started. He's had lots of phonecalls and several cupcakes, and a few more presents this evening. Our house looks like a toystore after a cyclone; today's additions only made a small difference, as last night he decided to drag every toy in the house into our living areas, and most are still there - the lazy things we are!
(Admiring in the mirror)

At 3, James:
  • Sings *or talks)most of the day
  • Is quite sure of himself; "I'm ARE!"
  • Is devoted to Bec, with Ra a close second
  • Likes to choose and play with Mummy's 'teriool' (material) and has even sewn a few straight lines
  • Has to have one or two cold mouthfuls of his evening "milk in my fish cup" before it is warmed
  • Is very helpful and caring
  • Has learned to open the front door, uh oh!
  • Shares everything with Eleanor - except the toys!
  • Loves Bananas in Pyjamas, Thomas the 'Tankation' and duplo
  • Has a preference for pink and purple (and lipstick and tutus....!)
  • Is still free with his kisses and cuddles
  • Ensures Eleanor will learn to say 'thank you' sooner rather than later
  • Has to talk to anyone who phones our house
  • Is starting to have nightmares (the other morning while asleep in our bed: "No Eleanor, don't take my biscuit!!!")
  • Has to have everything 'just so', and heaven forbid we forget!
  • Wants to know WHY???
  • Has a memory like an elephant
  • Excuses any 'bad' behaviour from Eleanor because, "she doesn't understand Mummy"
  • Is a big boy at times, and a little boy at others
  • Loves his friends Ella and Rachel at child care
  • Sang Happy Birthday to himself about 5 times!

(He told me later, he'd wanted to be a pink butterfly...)

Outback Silhouette

I finished my quilt for the ALQS today. I was photographing it along with my EBDQS quilt outside, and was sorely tempted to keep them both - they look great together on the wall, and would go so well with the FSQS Summer quilt made by Helen already hanging in the study. But I'm going to be strong this time, and send them to their intended recipients!
I was really happy with how Outback Silhouettes worked. I'm getting more confident with applique, and I think it shows. Although I had meant to use some stabiliser, and had I remembered when I was actually starting it, instead of only at 3am after finishing up the 'night' before, it would have minimised any distortion.
I bought a selection of red and green metallic and shimmery threads for the leaves and gum blossom, and managed to achieve the shimmery effect I wanted; I found the perfect green, and used 2 shades of red. Even better, although the thread isn't designed for machine use, with slow stitching, it only shredded and broke once. I went twice around the outer of each leaf, and once through the middle. And I think the petite beads finish the blossom nicely. Black in-the-ditch quilting around all the applique and black piecing also helped smooth the leaf edges from the buttonhole stitch - a handy side-effect! I hope its new owner likes it as much as I do!

A few more photographs tomorrow morning before it reaches a horrible, hot and windy 35, then off to the post office they go - one on a very long journey and the other a relativly short trip.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

How cool is this?

I just happened to look at my live feed, and noticed the huge range of flags representing the locations of my most recent visitors:
I'm tickled pink! I never anticipated when I started this blog how many people might stumble across it. But the one which really grabbed my attention was from Andalucia, since I'm coveting some of Patty Young's new fabric range when it comes out!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Blogging by candlelight?

Last night I had intended to finish the applique on my ALQS quilt, blog the label for my EBDQS, and prepare tonight's dinner, since Simon is away for a few days, and I find it hard to have things ready in time with James and Eleanor underfoot and tired after work. With my priorities as normal, I'd done most of the sewing just after midnight when the house went pitch black. My sewing machine (fortunately not in the middle of appliqueing a piece at the time) switched off under my hands. The computer and heater went silent behind me, and the lights flickered and went. The street lights were out, too, so it was completely black, and I had to feel around for the first thing I could think of - the firelighter we use for the stove! Hoping desperately that James (who likes a nightlight) and Eleanor didn't happen to wake (luckily they didn't) I switched off appliances by candlelight and returned the defrosted but uncooked meat to the fridge and had an early night. The power returned just before 2am, and I had to get up and turn off random lights and other items I'd missed!
For the ALQS, my quilt will be heading overseas (not giving much away there!) so I decided to use Australian imagery. The colours are inspired by an outback sunset, and the leaves by the burned ones which blew into our Canberra garden during the January 2003 firestorms. This evening I finished the applique, although now I'm toying with adding a few more leaves to the left - I've cut some out ready to see how they look. I'll also add a gum blossom using free-machine embroidery with shimmery red thread in ochre and pink tones and some seed beads, and highlight the edges and centre veins of the leaves with some shimmery green thread (I know exactly what look I want but have to find some thread which will work!) Incredibly, this quilt is the first to come entirely from my stash (top, binding, backing, even the batting and beads - threads don't count!).

That said, here are some unrelated additions to two of my favourite stash 'departments' which arrived today:
(Stash = 935m).

PS - I kid you not; less than a minute after I posted this, the power went off again! Only momentarily, but still... I'm now carrying a small torch in my pocket just in case!

EBDQS Peek 3

As promised, here's what I've done for the label. Rather than muck around photographing the actual label, this is the file I used - so a bit brighter than the real thing, but pretty close.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

In a boat with billowed sail

Simon has spent a lot of time over the last few months building a sailing boat for James to play with. The boat itself is a foam core, and though I'm not too au fait with the details, I know it has layers of carbon-fibre and fibreglass. The keel is a large sinker; all attached using carbon-fibre, and the mast and boom are coated with carbon-fibre, too. It's got little pulleys, and a properly-functioning mast and boom - all the details. My contribution was the sails. They've been cut and pieced to curve just like a 'real' sail, and even have battens (made of quilting template!). I had to sew around everything, reinforce the corners, and attach the sleeve which goes over the mast. Although Simon says James chose the colour of the sail-cloth, I blame him for not providing two coordinating options for James to choose from - given the boat was already painted red! They took it out for its maiden voyage on Sunday. No champagne, but they did get a little sunburn as a certain someone didn't think to take hats, sunscreen, or even any drinks! Oh, and the title comes from "Puff, the Magic Dragon", which James has been singing around the house today - with some interesting word substitutions!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Sunday Stash #3 - Hyakryoran

This is a beautiful Japanese ombre. I bought a few yards in 3 colourways, now I just need to find the best way to use it. The photo shows the full width of the bolt, folded back on itself to show the full ombre across the fabric width.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

EBDQS Peek 2

Oooh, I'm having fun with PhotoShop! Here's the completed quilt top. It is now quilted, and I'm up to stitching the binding down on the back. Binding has been slow, becasue I've finally remembered to photograph everything for the binding tute I promised so long ago. The tute won't appear for a while yet though - apart from the fact that it would show the quilt, I have to check the photos are ok, then sort them and write it all - one day!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

EBDQS Peek 1

Here's the bottom part of the quilt I'm making for the Second EBDQS. Inspired by Gina, I had some fun with PhotoShop! I've put in a couple of hours on design, but tonight was my first go at actually mkaing it, and this only took a few hours - plus half an hour playing with effects in PS! I hope to get the top part done tomrrow - and have fun distorting that for you, too!

Friday, 17 October 2008

Twinkle, Twinkle

After more than two years sitting as a UFO, in only a week I have finished this quilt at last! I'm really happy with it (although of course after it's all together, I see a few placements I would change if I could!). It was nice to work on something more creative (and challenging) than just blocks. I'd been thinking that apart from my Round Robin centre most of what I've done this year has been blocks, but on checking, I realised there's also No Pot of Gold, Symmetry and a certain Round Robin border that weren't at all block-based, so maybe I've been more creative than I thought! I've left the first one larger than usual, so if Blogger is feeling cooperative, you should be able to click on it so see greater detail.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

The Really Really Big Plane

When I heard Qantas would be in and out of Adelaide Airport for a few weeks doing training flights in their A380, the biggest passenger jet in the world, I promised James we'd go and see it. It took a bit of internet trawling to find the times, although the dates were readily accessible. After a failed attempt when the flight was cancelled, we got to see it early this evening. Admittedly it was late, so we spent from 5.30 -7.15pm at the airport viewing area - after landing there's a 25 minute wait while the brakes cool before it takes off again (I read somewhere that they need to be cooled just in case the take-off is aborted and they're needed straight away). It wasn't the most ideal time with small children, but we were running out of opportunities, they don't go to bed early anyway, and Simon is away tonight, so couldn't look after Eleanor. Luckily Eleanor was pretty cooperative, and I'd brought plenty of food and drinks to keep them going!
Every jet prompted the question, "Is that the REEEALLY REEEALLY big one?" which made me think, for him it wasn't much different to any other plane! Although he definitely enjoyed it - and the opportunity to see lots of other take-offs and landings while we waited! Standing with his head out the sunroof was another rare treat!
Now he wants to fly in the thing...
Oh, and I finished quilting this quilt tonight; just the binding and label to go. The recipient's baby sister will be arriving via c/s tomorrow, so her's is vieing for next priority along with 2 swap quilts.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Stash Sunday #2 - Pandas

For now, this Stash Sunday isn't a quick post! It involves digging through boxes, playing with the fabrics I find, ironing and photographing my selection, then putting it all back where it belongs!

In my blog reading today I came across this on Lisa Walton's Blog which seems appropriate for Stash Sunday!

Today I've chosen my panda fabric selection. I also have a stash of matching bamboo prints! The top grid has my favourites in it. I've also got a bit more on the way, with the intention of offering to make Adelaide Zoo a panda quilt to raise funds for their impending arrivals.


I got quite a bit done in the end last night and today, despite a stupid mistake this evening which took ages to fix. Last night I got all 6 of these stars done.
Today I got the last 3 foundation sections pieced and the two outer panels joined, and tonight I've been printing (and re-printing) fabric for the photo and surrounds, and have started joining the centre panel.
At the moment all the pieces are still pinned to the paper design. I'm not sure yet how I'm going to join the 3 main sections, and whether or not they'll need a strip between them.