Sunday 29 September 2013

Sunday Stitchalong 4 and Pretty Things

Sunday again - there's no time between one week and the next it seems; are you finding the same?
Anyway, I hope you are having good times, however quickly or slowly time passes for you, and for those of you who have not been in the best of health, I wish you well! There must be something travelling around blogland methinks, for I've been feeling rather depleted and out of sorts myself these past few days or so. No doubt things will pick up along with the weather - if it ever picks up!!!

Right, here's my 'Sunday Stitching with Chrissie' effort for this week. If you don't know about Chrissie's stitchalong, then you can find her  here  and, even if you're not into stitching, you may be interested in joining up with Chrissie and Marianne - also  here - for their Chrochetalong which will begin in a couple of days. Chrissie also has a lovely giveaway happening too, so jump quick if you feel drawn!

I delved into my art box this week and found my compass - such a handy little tool - which I used to create the design for this little Sampler. Most of the stitches I've included are in Jenny Hart's Sublime Stitching book - 'Embroidered Effects' and if you are interested, you can find Jenny here .

Now, as you can see, I have photographed this piece four times, turning the design around each time in order to view it in the various directions! ( Yeah, I know the computer would have turned it for me but I'm trying to make things easy here!) I can't decide which way to make 'UP' even though I had to come to a temporary decision in order to get my post done - what are your thoughts on this; I'll be very interested to hear what you think so please let me know!

This week I have also crocheted another couple of the apple slice coasters, but you saw those last post so I won't include them here. And yesterday I spent quite some time using that little floss winder (also shown last week), and organized all my threads which had threatened to become rather messy. Things will be much easier and straight-forward now with no struggles in the midst of a sewing spell to find the correct end of the thread to pull out of the skein; gosh, do you ever have hissy fits with those things? They try my patience at times!
Look at all those glorious colours! And do you like my tin? I couldn't resist it!

Of course you realise that I now have stitched several pieces so far, during the Sunday Stitchalong, that need to have something made with them - the flower wheelbarrow and the blue wren, as well as this latest design - so I must put my thinking cap on this week and come up with a plan of some sorts.

My daughter bought me some beautiful flowers this week - what a lovely surprise, thank you M! This is a 'Waratah', and is native to N.S.W.. Don't you think it's a stunning bloom?

I also picked a few little things from the garden yesterday to brighten me up a bit:

And I want to show you my 'lollipop tree' which is actually a flowering peach - and yes, it does bear fruit and they are edible, in fact they are very tasty - smallish at first so we thin them out  in the early stages and then it produces fewer but larger fruits!
As you can see, it's not nearly finished blooming yet and will eventually be covered with those delightful flowers: such a wondrous sight!

And here is our 'Boy Buddha' surrounded by pretty plants, from the same area of our little back garden as the lollipop tree. I think our little water feature looks quite content with himself, don't you?

That's about it for this time folks - I'm so happy you popped in and thank you so much for taking the time to leave me your lovely messages; I've been a bit tardy this week in keeping up with all of your posts but will catch up soon for I so enjoy them and the inspiration and encouragement they provide me. Thank you all for showing your lovely work and sharing so much of your daily lives!

Joy xo

Sunday 22 September 2013

Sunday Stitchalong and More

Here is my update on Sunday Stitchalong with Chrissie and friends and I do hope you enjoy having a little look!

First off, I now am the proud owner of a 'light box' so that has made life a lot easier - a great investment for small cost. Funny how it happened really - I had one on order from a fabric shop but their supplier let them down and I didn't feel like being patient any longer so managed to get one elsewhere, right there and then,  for a huge 40% off just because the store was having a birthday celebration. And it's a better model than the one I had on order. Am I blessed or what!

Here is what I have worked on - you remember the gorgeous blue wrens I included pics of in a post recently? Well, I just love these little birds so thought it would be a challenge to stitch one and yes, it was a challenge! I used short and long stitch, which I haven't really used before - well, maybe I have  in the long ago distant past but didn't know what I was doing!!! Trying to mimic those vibrant colours was just about impossible but I gave it a good try. Satin stitch was my choice for the little blue heart and the larger heart was done in the same fashion as the wren. The decorative 'swirl' is stem stitch.

For this project I bought new fabric but then wasn't happy with it once I started to stitch - the weave is more open than the ones I've been using and the fabric doesn't have a lot of body to it - drat! However after stitching I gave the piece a hand wash which is my usual practice, and I can say that it's the first time I've ever been happy when a fabric shrunk - not a lot but enough to tighten things up a bit and give a more finished look, to my mind. The top one is the edge of my washed project and on the bottom is the unwashed - can you see the slight difference in the weave?

I bought a floss winder so I can get my threads all tidied up - they're a bit messy now I'm afraid; this little gadget cost just over $2 - a bargain!

Now let me explain something here! Yesterday in my post I mentioned about the type of painting I used to do, and that style has crept into this little design; there's a story behind it. Ten years or so ago our little dog Morgie decided that after sixteen years he was worn out and so very sadly we had to let him go. I was heartbroken over Morgie and for a little healing therapy decided to get the paints out and see what would come forth:

There is my representation of Morgie, my lovely Lhasa Apso, along with some of my favourite things - blue wrens, butterflies, hearts and stylised flowers. Now, look again at my little stitch design and you'll see that I took the idea from my painting, albeit with a few little changes.

While we're on the subject of art deco stylised painting, here are a few others I did long ago which are hanging around our home. I apologise for the quality of these pics - the light was terrible and the reflections made the whole situation worse, so a couple of them are definitely not showing their true colours - but it's just to let you see what I've been talking about. By the way, the walls in our home are all painted in a linen colour, so the colours are definitely way out of whack, as you can see!

The name of the flower in the first painting escapes me and always has, the second one is from a poppy.

The next one is a fuchsia and the last is a leucodendron.

So there we have it - all of this based around my little stitch along blue wren. Or was the wren based around the paintings - yes, that's it!
I haven't decided whether or not to make another cushion from this project or venture into something new, but I'll be working on it!

I hope that those of you who are doing the stitch along have been enjoying yourselves and I'm looking forward to seeing all your work.

A little quote to leave you with:
The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt!   Sylvia Plath

I wish you all the very best, have a really good week, and thanks so much for dropping by!

Joy xo

Saturday 21 September 2013

Happiness Is ..........

Heaven sent, if you will only be content .......... as the song goes! And I must say, I'm feeling pretty content with my little lot in life! I have a good, loving and caring husband, wonderful children and grandsons who all spoil me, a home that I love in an area that I love - really -  everything I need in life and much more! AND I have this little space here where all you lovely friends come and say hello and encourage and inspire me through your sweet and kind messages, as well as your posts that I devour on a regular basis. I'm saying a huge thank you to all of you!

And of course I have my creative expression which these days is coming forth in little stitches, crochet, and knitting, and I couldn't begin to describe how happy, relaxed and peaceful these activities encourage me to feel.

I am hoping that everything is going well for all of you, and if you're having a bit of an off time then I hope that things soon pick up for you!

A friend included a very meaningful quote in a recent email:  

"Cherish yesterday, dream tomorrow, live today!"

Perhaps it could also say - love today! Love is a verb - it works!

Before I go any further and get myself lost in photos and words, I just want to mention Shari's blog. I know that lots of you have been following Shari at Kashmere Kisses but, a little mistake happened on her computer and to cut a long story short, she is now blogging under a different name -here you'll find everything the same apart from the name.

Anyway lovely folks, here are a few of the things that have brought contentment to me this week:

Another stitchy project! 

On tackling this wheelbarrow with flowers I remembered a time when watercolour painting was high on my agenda! I used to be part of a group being taught to paint  flowers in a stylised fashion in the art deco manner, and really it was also a kind of botanical study too for we would sit there with flower and pencil in hand and draw the intricate individual parts of the plant and then use our imaginations and plant parts to produce - well, you could say fantasy flowers. The next step was to combine some of the popular ornamental motives from that art deco era into our drawing, duplicate up, down, left and/or right with the aid of tracing paper, and finish up with, hopefully, a lovely design worth painting, framing, and hanging on the wall! Those approaches are obviously embedded in me for I find it so easy to slip back into those ways when I have a pencil in my hand, even though  it's not strongly evident here. 

I also had the hook out intermittently over the past couple of weeks or so and crocheted up these apple slice coasters from Issue 7 of Simply Crochet - I think they're rather cute and would make nice little gifts - I was even thinking of making a little folder to slip them into - we'll see! They are a good size really - that is a red wine glass sitting on there and it has quite a large base!

Our garden is looking good at the moment so I took a few pics to show you our blue bush - sorry I don't know it's name ....

And the crab apple blossom; unfortunately J couldn't prune this properly this year because of his injured shoulder and so the tree has spread itself out all over the place and the blossom is not as prolific as it was in previous years, but still such a lovely bloom!

I love the Irises!

I don't know if this worked or not, but I keep trying with my close-ups!

I do have other things to talk about but since I'll be back again tomorrow with the Sunday Stitchalong with Chrissie,  I'll keep it until then!

Again, thanks so much for being here and please feel welcome to leave a little message - I love to hear from you!

Joy xo

Sunday 15 September 2013

Stitchalong Sundays Update

Sunday has quickly rolled around again - I expect you are all making progress on your 'Stitchalong with Chrissie' projects and I'm so looking forward to seeing everyones work. You lovely folks in the UK will only just be rising and greeting what I hope turns out to be a lovely day for you all,  and in the States it might still be Saturday. Over here in Australia its mid-afternoon so I'm a little leap ahead of most of you - only in time, I quickly add! 

So here is the update on my cushion!

As you can see, I've embroidered all the flowers on the strip of  linen fabric ready  to be attached to the front of the cushion. I chose to do mainly back stitch with a little stem stitch here and there and French knots in the centres of some of the flowers.

After pressing the piece I decided to put some backing on it just to give the fabric a bit more body, and if you're wondering what that strange looking last pic is then I can tell you that it's my appliqué mat.

I pressed the embroidered piece face down so not to flatten the stitches, but when I decided to back it with iron-on dressmaking interfacing I realised that I would have a big problem if I put the hot iron directly onto the interfacing as it would stick to my iron. My appliqué mat came to the rescue: I just laid the mat on top of the two materials - after very carefully checking that everything was smooth and even - and then pressed it. I might add that it seems to be a good idea to press carefully from the middle out towards the edges to avoid air bubbles and wrinkles - just like wall-papering I suppose, when you think about it!

And then? Well then, how could I not carry on and finish the project - I was longing to see it all sewn up and plumped up with a nice cushion insert. And besides there was a little nervousness involved too, for I wasn't sure that everything would come together just as I wanted it! Better to keep going and just do it!

So here's the front ....

And here's the back - I made a pillow-case type closure, and those buttons are really only decorative as the fold-over is deep enough to not need further support. There is method in my madness of course - in choosing such a closure I avoided both zip and button holes - but I rather like this way of enclosing the pad anyway. What is your preference?

So there she is, all nice and cosy looking on the (slippery) leather lounge/settee/sofa - whatever you prefer to call these pieces of furniture!  I am happy with this little cushion -  in fact I really like it! 

Although the drawings and workings out are my own, I did gain inspiration from a couple of books, mainly Caroline Zoob's Hand-Stitched Home, thank you Chrissie for the great review and recommendation!

Just before I go I want to mention that when shopping in Albany (our only big shopping place apart from our little town of Denmark) the other day, I called in to the patchwork supply place and chatted with the manager/teacher there about transferring patterns onto fabric and such like. To cut a long story short, she strongly advised me against using an indelible pen for such work so I decided to order a light box, which I hopefully will take delivery of in a week or so. Like Chrissie, I know that this stitching thing is something I want to continue with and so such a device will be a good investment. I have been a bit unhappy with my Sulky iron-on transfer pen, for, as I mentioned before, the lines it produces are rather thick and their being permanent is a concern, especially if I messed up and spoiled an expensive piece of fabric!

I bought a pencil to use with the light box - it looks just like an ordinary propelling pencil really - and there are different colours 'lead' to use for various colours of fabric - these are extras! But it is pretty with butterflies all over it, and I love the colour!

I do hope you are all enjoying the Sunday Stitchalong as much as I am, thank you Chrissie, and I guess I had better decide on a new project to keep me going, now that I've rushed through this one! Can't help myself, I know, J keeps telling me the same thing!

A very happy crafty week to all of you!

Joy xo

Saturday 14 September 2013

A Stitchy Rabbit and Mouse

My how the days fly and they have been so full of lovely stitchy things! But I'm getting ahead of myself here - first, hello to you, my lovely friends and new acquaintances - you are all so welcome, and thank you for your lovely messages; I hope you enjoy your visit!

First off I'd like to show you my little Rabbit and Mouse! Many years ago I did a miniature watercolour painting of a little rabbit for my Mum, after the style of Beatrix Potter  (for those of you who've been following me for a while you'll know that I love anything and everything Beatrix Potter) and as my lovely Mum passed over a few years ago I now have that little painting at home with me, hanging on my wall. This little painting means a lot to me so I decided to draw another little rabbit - almost identical - and this time use embroidery thread instead of watercolours. Well then little Rabbit looked a bit lonely like she needed a friend - and don't we all need friends - so along came little Mouse to keep her company!

Where did little Mouse come from? Well, I found her in the same faerie book that I mentioned when doing Red Pixie's faerie friend, and I duly set to work with pencil and paper and drew a very similar version. I don't quite know yet how these little friends will finish up - perhaps a child size cushion or framed to hang on the wall - we'll see - maybe embroidery on a cushion for a wee one is not such a good idea with all the wear and tear it's likely to get!!!

I also stitched and framed a little thing to give as a gift to my sister who is having a birthday this coming week! There's a bit of a story to this one, and so it goes: some years ago P gave me a lovely faerie card and suggested that I might paint her a similar faerie some time! The years have passed and I really haven't had my paints out for some time so the faerie never was brought forth - and besides, I always doubted my ability to do a good job with it anyway - so, since I now get my colour kicks from yarn and thread I decided to stitch her a faerie instead! Here she is spreading her gorgeous faerie dust over the wee folks' little toadstool house - which is a bit symbolic of me wishing my lovely sister many blessings!

I thought it might be nice to let you see the three gifts made recently - all lined up together - the other two are going to friends in a few days time for their birthday gifts. Don't the white frames set them up nicely!

Now then, what else do we have today? How about this then! You know I have been very disenchanted with my venetian blinds of late, mainly due to the awful job of keeping them clean - well -  it looks like good old Sabco may have provided me with the answer! Hubbie and I were looking at this duster whilst doing the shopping only yesterday and a lovely young lady shopper came  by and said "Oh yes, I have one and it's marvellous",  and she uses it for her venetians too! I tried it on the blinds when we came home and it definitely does lift the dust - YES, after only a week or so that darned dust was settling again! So, for any of you lovely people out there who are having a similar problem, look out for one of these! Mine came from Woolies! Just a little add-on here: the young lady said she just slips the cover off and throws it in the washer and it comes out clean, fresh, and like new again!

Another little update now: a few of you seemed to be quite taken with the grey cardigan I recently finished so I decided to do a little pose in it to allow you to better see just how nice those sleeves and body shape really are (the cardigan's, certainly not mine!!! I'm swallowing my pride in showing this pic!) You can find the pattern on Deramores site if you are interested in it!

And now? Ah, let's take a look at our little reptile! This is a (young) King's Skink - Egernia Kingii - and is native to the coastal regions of South West Western Australia. These Skinks can grow to a length of 55cm (22") and I'll tell you, after I've heard the sound that heralds their presence I am always happy to see that these fellows have legs - otherwise, what do you think they would resemble?!!! Take a guess, I'm sure you'll only need one!
I do apologise for the poor quality of the pics - these were taken through the glass doors again (like the parrot pic), and I have tried to 'doctor' them but not very successfully. Here he is peeping out from under the planter barrel.. ... slowly making his way .. ... then right out. He is quite a bit darker than showing here and shiny, but at least you get the idea! 

Well my friends, that's me finished for today but I'll be back tomorrow with an update on Sunday Stitchalong - gosh it's a busy life, but so enjoyable! I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend and I'll look forward to hearing from you soon. Many thanks again for popping in, I always love hearing from you!

Joy xo

Sunday 8 September 2013

Joining Stitchalong Sundays with Chrissie!

Hello blogger friends, and happy Sunday to you all! This is just a very quick and short post today ... ...

I expect most of you will have heard about the Stitchalong Sundays with Chrissie here - if not, do take a look at her lovely blog, and I hope you decide to come along for the fun!

I am definitely in, for I know this will be very encouraging and inspiring, as well as fun! Now if I got my facts right I believe that Chrissie would like us to post about what we're planning to make, and also to update as we make progress, so I thought I'd just let you have a look-see at what Ive made a start on. This project should take me through the course of this lovely activity with Chrissie and friends, whilst still leaving me time for my other WIPs!

If all goes according to plan, this will be a cushion cover with an embroidered strip of 'similar but different' fabric sewn in about a third of the way down. First I drew my flowers (first pic), then traced the drawing onto heavy tracing paper with my iron-on transfer pen. Next step was to iron the transfer onto the fabric and voila! All set to go!

Below you see the two linen fabrics followed by the proposed placement of the embroidered strip, and finally a pic of the threads I plan to use, although these are subject to change as I progress! Well you know, it's good to leave one's options open, isn't it!

So there you have it lovely friends and now I'm off to do a few stitches. I do hope your weekend is working out even better than you hoped for!

Thank you so much for being here, and I'm looking forward to chatting with you all soon!

Joy xo

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Home, Garden, and Park

Here we are again, happy as can be, all good friends and jolly good company - as the song goes -  and so many times I've sung that with my grandsons when they were little and we were driving off somewhere in the car! Happy memories!

I hope you are all having a good week? I finished all those venetian blinds so am quite pleased with myself and it's so nice to see them sparkling fresh again; it was worth the effort even if I do feel a little bit jaded myself!

Anyway, I have quite a few little pics to share with you so lets go!

Recently the lovely Marianne from ladybirddiaries kindly let us have a look at her craft books and I said I would take a pic of mine also, which I've done, but really, there are very few here as over the years I bought more books on painting than 'crafts'! I think perhaps it's time to build my craft library - I mean, really, you can see that I don't have many at all, can't you!!! There are a few magazines tucked away on shelves and I suppose there are a couple of sewing books somewhere - oh yes, there is a lovely cross-stitch book I missed - The Encyclopedia of Cross Stitch Techniques by Betty Barnden - a very lovely and helpful book. 

I finished the cardigan! What do you think? It's a bit different, which is what I wanted, and quite nicely shaped. I like the sleeves - they are about three quarter length. This was a free pattern from Deramores, by Rico Design and very straight-forward and easy! I mentioned before that I used Bergere de France Ecoton yarn, which is a recycled cotton blend. It knit up very nicely and is quite soft but I had to wash it on completion as it had a bit of a 'dry-cleaning fluid' sort of smell. It's okay now though, and it pressed up beautifully!

I was longing to get into some colour again after the cardi so tried out this little motif from Issue 6 of Simply Crochet. It's called Divine Diamonds by Lucy Croft and I'd had my eye on it for a while. Anyway, I didn't really intend to make anything out of this but did want to challenge myself with the pattern. It was a lot simpler than it looked! I haven't even finished off the loose ends yet!

Do you remember the pics of the local park/adventure playground that I showed you a wee while ago? Right, well, the Kangaroo Paws have developed and grown and I said I would post about them again:

Are you impressed with our Native Flora? They make quite a statement don't they!

And I've taken a couple of pics in the garden also - our lovely Jasmine first, then another gorgeous thing that I've been told is a South African plant - but have no idea of its name! I love pink!

In the front of that pic to the right is a little sprig of our Silver Birch tree foliage which has just begun to green up again after it's leaf drop of winter. Ah yes, a sure sign of Spring I'm very happy to say!

And so I'll be off, hoping you enjoyed your little visit and thank you so much for dropping by. Please leave a little message if you have time and inclination for, to me, that's what blogging's all about - interaction and communication among like-minded folks and I do enjoy it, thank you!

Have a wonderful week and take good care of yourselves!
Joy xo

Sunday 1 September 2013

Abba, Venetian Blinds, and Blue Wrens!

Hello friends - I know you are probably wondering what Abba has to do with venetian blinds so without further ado I will explain!

I actually don't like this type of blind, mainly because of the difficulty in keeping them clean and so I vowed years ago that I'd never have them again, but ... ... when we bought this house the windows were already fitted out with them and to be honest, in order to control the amount of light, sunshine, and thus heat, coming through the windows, as well as for privacy, I had to admit that these blinds were really necessary!

So, for the past four or so years I have diligently dusted these things fortnightly (mostly!), then more recently I started to notice that, even as I lifted the dust, so it was settling back on them again and I got a bit fed up with the whole scenario and stopped being so regular with the cleaning of them!!! The result being that they became dirty - I said dirty - I meant dirty! We like fresh air so we always have windows open and guess what catches the dust as it comes in search of a happy landing place - the venetian blinds!

So, seeing as Spring has sprung and this is the time for spring-cleaning, I decided the job had to be tackled, though this time not with a duster! Since hubby is recovering from a shoulder injury it was not an option to take these things outside and give them a good scrub down so it was a case of wiping off each louvre individually - are you with me? - one by one - spray, wipe, and rinse cloth!

The very thought of this repetitive action had me feeling bored and weary for I knew that this job (full height  w i d e  sliding doors were tackled first) would take hours! So what did I do? I called for Abba! I don't know about you but I so love Abba - I will never stop loving Abba - so to clean venetians to the beat of their music sounded like such a good idea! What do you think? Yes?

But I bet you've never jigged around like a mad woman, singing and dancing whilst undertaking such a chore - for the most part - on a chair!!!! Oh yeah! What great exercise and I felt so happy too, for Abba's music always makes me feel warm and sentimental as it brings back such wonderful memories of when our children were young and our younger daughter was dancing all over the place to their beat - she was our Dancing Queen!

Every window in our home is covered with venetian blinds - there's a long way to go yet  - but the worst of it is over, for the remainder of them are much smaller than those doors! So it'll be one or two a day until I get through them and Abba will be worn out but I'll be toned up and slimmer than when I started - well that is my hope - there has to be some sort of reward surely!

Today is Father's Day in Australia so hubby and I had brunch with our daughter and family at their home which is a little way out of town. It was most enjoyable, especially as the weather was very nice after the gale-force winds we had yesterday that caused widespread power failures!

While we were down there I managed to take a few pics of the beautiful blue wrens which hop around their place quite freely - such friendly little creatures they are and their little voices are sweeter than canaries. My favourites! This fellow is called the Splendid Fairy-wren (Malurus splendens), and in the first pic he is with his offspring - Mum was there too but I wasn't fast enough to get the three of them together! Mum actually looks similar to the youngster - the female is not as brilliantly coloured as the male.

And here he is thinking about having a bath, then deciding to just hop back down and continue seeking out the crumbs that we had enticed him with!

Now don't you think that is the most beautiful little bird!

The following pics are some that I took a couple of months ago and didn't get around to a 'show and tell' until now. This area is about 75kms drive from where we live, on the other side of Walpole and, as you can see, offers a little bit of magic! I'm sure you know by now that I love water and waterfalls of any kind, (and I'm sure many of you do too), so 'Circular Pool' is most attractive to me! The pics tell the story so I needn't give any more of a write-up! Such peace and tranquility!

I'm sure you agree this is a beautiful area and we are so very fortunate to have such as this close-by to visit and enjoy!

Wow, this is a rather large post isn't it! Thank you for your patience and I do hope you've enjoyed my ruminations! It had been my intention to show some of my craft books but that will have to wait for another time. And, come to think of it - craft - I don't have anything to show you this time as I've been concentrating on my cardigan knitting and that should be finished and ready to look at in a few days!

Please do leave me a message for I so love to hear from you, and many thanks to all of you who take the time to keep in touch - you're wonderful!

Joy xo