Monday, 29 August 2011

Gratitude & a passion

We were back at the farm on the weekend, home for the 50th birthday of a dear friend who has been diagnosed with leukaemia this year. She is now in remission thanks to a successful transplant of bone marrow donated by one of her four brothers. It was a great party. There were tears, but an overwhelming sense of gratitude that she is still with us and able to celebrate a momentous birthday.

As is often my habit when life is confronting, I took some time out to wander in the garden and be thankful.
The Manchurian pears were flowering gloriously ...
... and were just at that magical point where the petals were dropping gently and silently like snow in the breeze, leaving a beautiful white carpet on the paths. I'm thankful that I stopped to notice - it was breathtakingly lovely!

The arum lilies were their usual elegant and serene selves, their peace disturbed only by the furious buzzing of a million busy bees!
There were happy daffodils popping their heads up everywhere ...
... and peach blossoms just ready to burst as the weather warms.


You don't need to read my blog for long before you'll realise the passion I have for my garden. If you missed my farm garden tour a little while ago, you can find it in instalments here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.


One of my very favourite songs is 'Fourth Floor' by The Waifs. While I am blessed with a large garden these days, my gardening started in pots on a balcony in a tiny flat in the middle of Sydney. This song perfectly describes the passion for me, whether your garden is big or small!



Fourth Floor

On the fourth floor of the building
In a shallow window box
She’s digging in the soil with a silver spoon
Her hands inside rubber gloves
Planting seeds pulling out weeds
The cycle of life is complete
Who would’ve thought it in a city of stone
Four floors above the street

I cannot tell what kind of flowers they are
I’m too far below on the street
But the colour they add to the building so drab
Brings a warm splash of welcome relief
Something worthwhile for the sun to shine on
A reason to radiate heat
Well that small window box puts a skip in my feet
Four floors below on the street

For every good seed she plants in the soil
There’s a dozen bad waiting to grow
To strangle the goodness she’s trying to nurture
And kill all the seed that she’s sown
Every time you water the garden you also water the weeds
A profound illustration of sin and temptation
Four floors above the street

Some people don’t understand why she does it
Some people look for a reason
Maybe she just likes the feel of the soil
Or keeping in tune with the seasons
Maybe she has so much pride in herself
Got to keep it all visually pleasing
A small paradise in a world of concrete
Four floors above the street

A small paradise in a world of concrete
A small paradise in a world of concrete
A small paradise in a world of concrete
Four floors above the street

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Nifty strip-piecing trick

It happened this week that I needed a large panel (20 by 7) of randomised 1.5" patchwork squares - as you do?! I read about this great technique in Australian Quilter's Companion #47. 
Kathy Doughty, of Material Obsession fame, used it to quickly piece her 'The General's Wife' quilt.
From fabric scraps (or a jelly roll of 'Etchings' by 3 Sisters in my case), cut twenty-eight 11" x 2" strips. Divide the strips into four sets of seven strips each. 
For each set, join the seven strips along their long edges. Press the seam allowances in one direction.
Lay the pieced strips right sides together so that the seventh strip joins the first strip. Join to make a tube.
 

Place the tube of strips on the cutting mat and cut five circular 2" segments.
Unpick one seam of each of the five tubes, choosing a different seam for each. This will yield five strips with differing fabric placement.
Repeat this process for each of the four sets of fabrics to yield twenty strips.
These strips are then stitched together in rows. There is plenty of fabric variation using this technique. You may need to re-press the seams in the opposite direction for some strips as you join them together. And quick as a flash, you have a 20 x 7 panel of randomly distributed 1.5" squares!
This panel is part of one of those annoying 'secret' projects that I can't disclose just yet, but I wanted to at least share what I thought was a great time-saving technique.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A full weekend

My tiny Tête-à-Tête miniature daffodils are indicators of unseasonably warm weather, and herald promise of more warmth and blooms to come.
We made good use of last weekend's warm conditions, and got out and about. Our eldest blossie (15) made her artistic debut at her school's Art Fair with a pencil drawing of actress Christina Ricci. She has been working on this piece at school, and we hadn't seen it until the Fair. We were gobsmacked by her effort. The original photo is shown below her sketch.
Had a lovely weekend with my Mum, and she has returned home with her new bag in tow. She also picked up a cute train print to make a quilt for my train-crazy nephew. So I sent her packing with lots of coordinating prints for her to 'get steam up'! 
I have more to do this week than I can poke a stick at ... sorry, Mum-the-queen-of-mad-sayings has been visiting. She makes the kids laugh with her sayings. We always know exactly what she means, but have no idea where she gets them from! The one she uses the most when we are sewing: "A blind man would be pleased to see it". This saying is a mantra in our house when a project isn't progressing quite as perfectly as we would hope!

But I digress ... I have more to do this week than I can poke a stick at, but I am really hoping to play with this: a jelly roll of beautiful, French-inspired prints called 'Etchings' by 3 Sisters for Moda (purchased from Patchwork Plus).
Enjoy your week. Hoping for some badly needed rain here in NSW for struggling crops. Hopefully it is coming Wednesday. Bloom x

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Mission complete

Our aim to finish Mum's bag before she returns home is accomplished. She did a wonderful job of it.


And if she happens to leave it behind, I wouldn't complain!


The details:
The pattern is Monica Poole's 'Spice of Life', a well-written pattern for an easy-to-construct, very stylish bag.


The main fabric is an Echino cotton/linen, purchased from The Home Patch, with a plain linen trim.


The star of this design is the spring-loaded handbag frame, which allows the bag to 'snap' open and closed. It works like a dream, and is good quality hardware. The frame was also purchased at The Home Patch.


Mum's bag is lined with a bird print fabric that my beautiful blogging friend Janelle sent me a while ago. It was just perfect for this project - thanks Nellie! 

The pattern has wonderful instructions for incorporating a zippered pocket, and a really sturdy, removable bag base.

I think there will be more of these bags made, I love it!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Mum's bag progress

I have returned from the netball run to find Mum sewing madly. I fully expected that she would not have progressed at all considering that when I left her, she had her brain fully engaged with a Sudoku! She has a thing for Sudokus!
But as she often does, she proved me wrong. She has the bag exterior together, the linen handles constructed and the lining completed. Alright! The lining even has two pockets, one of them with a zip closure. Legend!

Progress is likely to slow as it is approaching wine o'clock. But I will be back when there is something blog worthy to report.

Mum at work

The aforementioned bag got off to a slow start. Neither of us felt brave enough last night to cut into the Echino - we were both tired and a bit doughy after a glass of champagne! This morning saw us running about after the kids' sport.
But this afternoon, Mum is ready for business. She is busy quilting the outer layer as I type. Hope to be back soon with more progress ... after I get Miss 15 to netball and back :) Hope you are getting some sewing time this weekend too. Bloom x

Friday, 12 August 2011

Raw materials

Mum is visiting, which meant our inevitable visit to Anni Downs' lovely The Home Patch store in Bathurst today. We boldly declared as we walked through the front door that 'we really didn't need anything today'. An hour and a half later we exited sheepishly, with a brown paper bag full of lovelies. We now have a busy weekend of sewing ahead of us!

We are hoping to transform
a stunning piece of Echino linen ...


... plus a lovely pattern 
from Monica Poole of Moonshine Designs ... 




... into something beautiful!

Productivity is likely to be 
inversely proportional to consumption of this:


We will keep you informed!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Spinning Wheel Ride

If my last post wasn't enough excitement for me in one week, the Garden Issue of Australian Homespun arrived in my mailbox as well. I may have gasped just a little when I opened it ...
 
A quilt that I made back in January is gracing the front cover! Very special!
It is made from Amy Butler's luscious fabric line, Soul Blossoms, and is my representation of a bright, summer flower garden.
The fabrics in this line are wonderfully vibrant, and the full blown florals spoke to me of the 'flower power', infamously psychedelic times of the late 60's and early 70's. I called this quilt 'Spinning Wheel Ride' for the 1969 song by Blood, Sweat and Tears. I thought this song was psychedelically just right, and has a very matter of fact, and positive message about trouble in life! For me, it says: leave your trouble behind, and enjoy the exciting ride life has ahead for you, all astride a painted pony!


What goes up must come down
Spinnin' wheel got to go 'round
Talkin' 'bout your troubles it's a cryin' sin
Ride a painted pony let the spinnin' wheel spin

You got no money and you got no home
Spinnin' wheel all alone
Talkin' 'bout your troubles and you never learn
Ride a painted pony let the spinnin' wheel turn

Did you find the directing sign on the
Straight and narrow highway
Would you mind a reflecting sign
Just let it shine within your mind
And show you the colors that are real

Someone is waiting just for you
Spinnin' wheel, spinnin' true
Drop all your troubles by the riverside
Catch a painted pony on the spinning wheel ride

The blocks are simple kaleidoscopes, although that center join takes some mastering, and was the source of some cussing, I must confess. But I conquered it in the end ... after 35 of them!
Belinda of Eucalypt Ridge Quilting worked her magic with an edge-to-edge design called 'Denali' by Anne Bright .
The Homespun team did a beautiful job of making my quilt look good. How I love that pale blue bucket lavishly filled with apricot roses!
Australian Homespun and XLN Fabrics are very generously running a competition to win one of TWELVE fabric kits to make 'Spinning Wheel Ride'. Details are on page 12 of this month's magazine (No. 99, Vol 12.8). International distributors of the magazine are listed below.



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