Sunday 30 March 2014

Giveaway Winner, Finished Projects, and Fun Things!

Hello everyone, and Happy Mother's Day to those of you who celebrate this event today - here in Australia we set aside a Sunday in May when we honour our Mums - I don't know why it can't be universal!

Crocheted mandalas seem to be all the rage at the moment and for me, despite having been attracted to Wink's lovely work when she first started her weekly mandalas on her blog at A Creative Being, the desire to make them didn't really grab me - perhaps because in a previous life I had painted watercolour mandalas and had already worked them out of my system. However, having seen a few of you lovely ladies getting into them now I decided a week or so ago to finally give them a go, following one of Wink's beautiful patterns. It's been fun comparing the various effects obtained just by changing colours, or using the same or similar colours in a different order, in a similar fashion to working blocks (in sewing as well as crochet), and I've completed two of Wink's 'Picot Mandala' pattern, this one is from Issue 7 of Simply Crochet.

A closer look - why not - may as well . . .

I am almost finished working a third mandala, from Issue 5 this time, and I think Wink has entitled it her 'Heart Mandala' - but I'll show it another time when it's finished! By the way, if you should think the stitches in the above pics are looking a bit 'different', it's probably because I am left handed!

I think we can gain a lot from mandalas, not least learning about colour mixing and of course most of us would have heard of, and hopefully seen, at least, pictures of the beautiful works the Monks do in coloured sand of these wonderfully meditative projects. For me, often once I've proved to myself that I can do something I then go on to other subject matter, and such is the case here - perhaps that's something to do with growing older and racing against time because there are so many things I want to do . . . . .

such as finishing my latest quilt . . . . .

It measures 50" x 64' and would look good on a single size bed, I think! Here it is laid out on my Queen size,  just to give you an idea of how it looks . . . . I'm very happy it's all done - it worked out to be a fair bit bigger than my previous two and so the handling of it while stitching was a bit tricky at times, but all good experience! Now I have a need to work on smaller projects for a wee while!

Here is an idea from the book 'Hoop-la' by Kirsty Neale:

Following suggestions from Kirsty, I wrapped washi tape around the hoop, appliqu├ęd the little fabric bunny  onto another scrap of fabric stash, and embroidered a few little flowers etc.. The fun bit is the little glued-on pom-pom tail - thanks to my Mum for teaching me how, all those years ago! I still need to do a round of running stitches around the back to draw in the (temporarily folded under) fabric, and also tie on a ribbon of some description to disguise the little screw/hook thingy on the top. That eye is a little white button sewn on and then a piece of black felt glued on top!

Now I would like to thank you all so much for your beautiful comments on my previous post in celebration of my first blog birthday - you say such lovely things to me and I very much appreciate every word, thank you! 

As planned the name was drawn from the 'hat' - which was actually a bowl - and the lovely fellow blogger who's name came up is Julie from 'Haggiz' blog ! Congratulations to you Julie,  and will you please send me an email/message with your mailing particulars and I'll parcel up and send off your new table runner to you:

I will be away for a few days from the middle of next week, during which time I may fall way behind in following your lovely posts - I will miss you all but may manage to pop in now and then for a quick look, depending on what happens. Hubby and I are looking forward to catching up with family and friends and having a nice little break while family and friends here at home will 'mind the fort' while we're gone! 

But before I finish this post there are a couple more pics I want to share - first our little furry friend 'Pika' and then this gorgeous plant belonging to friends who are on holiday and entrusted it to our care until their return - isn't it beautiful!

Wishing you all happy days, with my love,

Joy xo

Wednesday 19 March 2014

One Whole Year and a Giveaway

Yes, it's difficult to believe but it was a year on the sixteenth of this month since I did my first ever post on this little blog, and what a year it's been! I want to thank each and every one of you for your wonderful kindness,  your interest and uplifting comments/messages - you have encouraged and inspired me so much I can't even begin to tell you!

When I first decided to try my hand at blogging it was with a great amount of fear and trepidation but I did so want to share and talk and join in as I'd already spent time on various blogs where I had been greatly impressed by the content, as well as the general friendliness of everyone. And what a lovely enthusiastic bunch you've turned out to be - I just love the communication that goes to and fro among us and all the inspirational crafts I've been privy to since my quiet beginning twelve months ago!

Anyway, as a little celebration and thank you, I'd like to offer a little giveaway: if you would like to be the new owner of the table runner which I spoke about last post, then please leave a comment and you'll be in with as good a chance as anyone else. A name will be drawn out of the hat on Saturday 28th of this month. That's not far away, so don't be slow! Oh and of course I'm happy to mail to any part of this wonderful world of ours!

This is the runner, and the second pic lets you see the back.

Now don't rush off for I have some other things to show you! First up an update on the disappearing four-block/patch quilt top - this was it laid out on the carpet complete with webbing and backing fabric, before beginning the actual quilting. What a job having to put it together on the floor, especially considering my knees don't allow me to get down there - I really could use a new pair of knees!

Since this pic I have done most of the quilting, but that can wait for another post because I'd rather have it completely finished before showing again! What do you think? Gee, that second pic looks a bit pale and wan doesn't it, I don't know what happened there …….!

And I've just crocheted a beanie for one of my grandsons as part of his birthday pressie - gosh, I hope he likes it - I am a little bit concerned that he might think it a bit 'girlie'! A well, I can always do him another one!

Do you like my model - beautiful Peter Rabbit - you know I'm a huge Beatrix Potter fan!

The sewing machine has been having another workout and this time we produced a couple of quilted bags which I'm rather happy with. I saw the video for these on YouTube (Jenny at Missouri Quilts) again - I do learn such a lot from Jenny, who does a marvellous job at getting the info across!


And one more look ….. here they are on the Lillypilly tree …..

And that's it for now folks - thank you so much for dropping in again, and please let me know if you are interested in being in the draw for the table runner!

I'm wishing for sunshine in your lives, and heaps of happy days!

With my love,

Joy xoxo

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Another Mixed Bag

Hello again my faithful followers, and thank you so much for all your lovely comments which are always brimful with enthusiasm and encouragement - they cheer me on my way, no end!

I have a few bits and pieces to share with you today and first off is the little hexagonal travel sewing pouch/purse. I have to say that although this is a pretty little thing and will be most useful, I do feel that the work and time spent on it does not reflect in the finished product. 

36 x 3/4 inch (2cm) paper templates to cut out and then cover in fabrics before sewing together, and then to have to cut a fair bit of them away in order to have straight edges to bind - well, I ought to have thought a bit longer about it before I jumped into this particular pattern! Anyway, another lesson learned! Do have a look at it and let me know what you think!

There is also a second table runner, very similar to that of the previous week, but just slightly longer and narrower - well, when one has scraps of fabrics that are rather pretty, it is a nice, and economical, thing to use them up. I must admit to having cut out too many squares to accommodate the little heart quilt so somewhere down the line there will be yet another appearance of these pretty fabrics but no decision yet as to what!

And the back …..

Really, these runners are so quick and easy to make and I've thoroughly enjoyed putting them together and seeing fast results.

Last weekend saw me having a quick gander at a few fabrics which were on sale at Textile Traders - I hadn't been in there for quite some time so it was very nice to spend a bit of time browsing and actually finding a few bits and pieces to add to the very slowly growing (because I keep using it) stash. Just when I had almost decided to order online up come a few attractive, and I think, coordinating pieces, at a good price that couldn't be refused! Pick it up when you see it girls, you never know when it might come in handy …..

Oh and I've also been doing a bit on my granny square blanket after being inspired by the lovely 
Forgetmenotsblue - and you can see from the pics that I really am attracted to aqua …..

…and how about those cute elephants - the fabric is called Elephant Walk.

 Just as an aside - the cotton yarn I'm crocheting into a blanket has had so many trial runs on various patterns as a cardigan - I've never before had such trouble finding a pattern I really like or have the patience to take my time to work on. Anyway, I have loads of this yarn so there will be a successful cardi come out of it sometime ….. down the line somewhere ….. watch this space. In the meantime I'm finding the blanket so very relaxing to pick up and work on a little bit at a time, especially after concentrating on matching and fixing those blocks in the 'disappearing four-block quilt' - yes, I'm still working at it and it's showing good progress so I'll give you an update next time.

Do you remember me showing you the Lillypilly trees with berries last season? Well here are a couple of pics to date, such a good load of fruit on it again; and also one solitary hibiscus flower which is also adding a nice bright touch to the garden at the moment. 

We are very thankful to have had a few showers of rain during last weekend - nothing like enough, but a little bit for the gardens is very acceptable. The good thing is that it fell very gently and that enabled the dry earth to take it in, rather than it coming down in torrents, which it will sooner or later. I had never seen rain come down so hard as in Australia - it was a total shock to us when we first experienced it here!

I'm very happy to be seeing signs of beautiful spring in a lot of your blogs and it must be such a relief after all the rain and snow of winter - I wish for lots of happy, light, sunny times for you over there - make the most of it while you have it!

Have a wonderful week and thanks again for being here with me!

With my love,

Joy xoxo

Monday 3 March 2014

Practise Makes Perfect!

And I certainly need plenty of it when it comes to free-motion quilting on the sewing machine, but I am trying . . . . I had a lovely time yesterday (Sunday) putting together a little table runner from leftovers from my little heart quilt, after watching another YouTube video from Missouri Quilt Company.

 It's a quilt as you go project - lay out your backing fabric, place your wadding on top, and then begin to sew on strips, one at a time! Easy! The only thing to be careful of is that your strips of fabric are precisely cut so you don't start going lopsided, be sure to press the seams after each addition, and in no time you have a sweet little runner.

The cute little blue houses are on the back . . . .

So then today I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to practise the free-motion quilting - you remember my new book, 'First Steps to free-motion quilting' by Christina Cameli - so, armed with a reel of quilting thread and my trusty Bernina, I set to with a practice piece. Have you found that everything works beautifully on a practice piece but once you start on the real thing something goes a bit awry?!!!

Never mind, I just kept going, not being one to give up, and what you now see is my first serious attempt at free-motion stitching - lots of different uneven sized stitches I'm afraid, and quite a few 'too' squiggly lines, but hey, I refuse to beat myself up over it for the stitches can hardly be seen anyway. You see, my friends, there's a wee bit of method in my madness - I didn't use a coloured thread, no, just a lovely creamy off-white which is very forgiving, especially on all this patterned fabric.

Anyway, look closely and you'll probably see what I'm on about, but please be gentle with me, I'm doing my best and will get better - with practise!!!

You see what I mean, some of the stitches are way too big but I'm not unpicking, no!!! But anyway, the back looks kinda cute, don't you think? The stitches do show up better on the wee house fabric and I quite like the effect gained from the swirly spirals and circles, don't you?

I've also been busy this week with the crochet hook, after being inspired by the lovely Forgetmenotsblue and her never ending granny square blanket, thanks so much FB! I will show this another time as progress has been slow - why is it that every time I do a wee bit of crochet or knitting my hands start to pain - anyway, it won't be a 'never ending' blanket, but it will take a bit of time methinks!

What I have spent quite a bit of time on though is a disappearing four-patch quilt, again after watching a YouTube video with Missouri Quilt Company. I really didn't know what people were on about when they spoke of disappearing patch quilts, but now I know and am quite in awe of the cleverness of these experienced quilters. Now if you are really interested in seeing more on this subject then I'd suggest you pop on over to YouTube and see just how simple these things can be, but in the meantime, I did take a few pics with you in mind . . . .

. . . . the pic to your left shows the four squares cut out and ready, and on the right the patches are sewn up and pressed . . . . 

Now this won't be easy to explain, and I probably should have left it to the experts but just look closely . . . . and compare with the pic above . . . .  all I've done in the pic on the bottom left, (after taking the rotary cutter and special ruler and cutting through the whole patch four times, one inch from the centre seam), is take the bottom two big squares and swap their positions, and the same with the top two, okay? Then the little patch in the centre is moved around one position only . . . .  see the bottom right pic, yes?

And then stitch them all together very carefully, being sure to match all those little seams! I hope I've explained that okay, it's just an appetiser for those of you interested in giving quilting a go. There are so many great videos available on the web and they're so helpful!

I have made up a few of these patches but certainly have a long way to go, which is why I took a break and made the little table runner - something nice and quick from start to finish, and which I really enjoyed!

These are roughly set out and you can be sure that this time I'll be more certain I'm happy with the placement for I don't want to be taking this quilt apart to change blocks around. Lesson learned! Anyway, a long way to go yet but a very enjoyable project!

Nothing from the garden today my friends - apart from the roses standing on the runner up top there - our weather has been so dry with no rain at all for a couple of months and we so badly need it, even if only for the gardens; Saturday saw us welcome in Autumn time supposedly, but we had 36c - usually we're about 10c less than Perth but not on Saturday. I am pleased to report though that today has been much more cool and pleasant so hopefully we've seen the last of the hot stuff for a while!

Every time I come to the end of my post I find myself thinking that there were other things I meant to say when I got around to posting, but now can't think! Ah yes, I will be linking up with Chrissie again for Stitching Sundays,  thanks so much Chrissie, you're a darling!

Here are a few wise words I came across this morning:

Live without Pretending
Love without Depending
Listen without Defending
Speak without Offending 

So I will love you and leave you, wishing you all a very happy week and very good health!

Joy xoxo