Monday, July 31, 2017

Where did July go?

I have no idea where July went. It's been a bit of a blur - a bit of stitching, happy times with my husband and friends, a surprise wedding (not mine!)  and lots of thinking.

The  wedding was that of a dear friend and her partner. We were invited to a venue by the lake to celebrate her birthday and after a while the real reason for the gathering was revealed. It was such fun , just the loveliest surprise.

The thinking - well, my husband and I have agreed that our 2-storey house is too big for just the two of us and we're ready to downsize. We'll have to get rid of a lot of stuff and I am REALLY not looking forward to sorting out my sewing room. We live in a suburb close to the lake and gardens and we really want to stay in the neighbourhood if possible. Stay tuned.

The stitching - a strawberry pincushion for my friend's  birthday - note to self: make a wedding present! -  some hexies to put together for the clock in Sharon's lovely book and clamshells for the dilly bag in the same book. I've joined a stitchalong for this project - it's fun getting to know the Canadian and English ladies in the group and see what everyone's doing. I'm the slowest - too many distractions. I met the organiser, Cathy,  in London last year and my Tassie friend Leanne is another member. What fun!


I'm taking part in fewer swaps these days but couldn't resist Cheryll's Christmas in July swap.  Anthea was my partner and these were my gifts - aren't they great.


 I sent to Illene but forgot to take a photo. Anyway, she likes the gifts I sent -  a Christmas stocking, a keepsakes pouch with an angel appliquéd on the front and an appliquéd holly decoration-   which is always a relief because with swaps there are so many unknowns.

What with all this, plus a visit to the craft and quilt fair in Melbourne  with my dear friend Jeni and meeting lovely Ros from bloomandblossom.blogspot.com in my equally lovely friend Annie's beautiful garden, it's been quite a month.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Weekends

This weekend - or today at least - I'm being a couch potato, treating my suddenly sore back with my homemade heat pack and watching Scotland beating  the Wallabies in rugby.  24-19, in case you're interested. I was born in Scotland and raised in NZ so that's where my allegiances lie. Rugby is the only sport I follow - when you grow up in NZ you just can't get away from it. Must say I was impressed when my Aussie husband sang "Flower of Scotland" with me and the Scots in the crowd - and I have to say we were a whole lot more tuneful than the kilted singer.

Last weekend I was less of a lazybones. We're fortunate to have a small and beautiful fabric shop, Cotton Factory here in Ballarat and owner Alison organises some fun activities such as the weekend retreat I attended along with 70-something other craft enthusiasts and presenters from near and far.  It was two days of  hugging, chatting, laughing, eating and - oh yes, doing some stitching too. Not that I finished anything. No matter.
There was just so much talent in the room. One of the ladies at my table was working on the most magnificent fussy-cut EPP stars. The swap was a great hit on the first day. We'd all been sent some rather unpromising geography- themed fabrics and there was such a variety of amazing makes. I scored this bag, which I really really love (seen here with a few extras that were in our box of goodies plus a couple of things I won).

And this is what I made with my world map fabric (which I ended up liking - my swap partner was pretty pleased too.)

The presenters were all super-talented too. There was toymaker and fabric designer (and my favourite rude person) Jodie Carleton, quilters Kate Henderson from WA and Peta Peace from Queensland, EPP queen Sharon Burgess, longarm quilter Wendy Gleeson, Andi Herman, who produces patterns for pixellated quilts from photos and spent some time at my house finishing  her fabric mosaic mini featuring Anh Do - what a brilliant technique! - and international quilt judge Jenny Bacon.  Each was so lovely and so  generous with telling their personal stories and providing beautiful, inspirational displays. It was a weekend none of us will forget in a hurry.









Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cheers!

I turned 65 a few weeks ago. My birthday was marked with phone calls and messages, some lovely gifts and the receipt of my pension card (yikes! - that really does make me feel old!)  And a deep sense of gratitude, because unlike some of my dear friends, I'm still here. Still on the right side of the grass, as some of my elderly library borrowers liked to say. Still feeling lucky. So here's to all of us - long may we continue to wake up every morning , to be happy and healthy and enjoying whatever each day brings.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Happy birthday, Chookshed


So it's the Chookshed's 5th birthday - hooray! It's been lovely to think of Chooky and friends stitching away in that gorgeous welcoming space I was so lucky to visit a few years ago.

Much of my weekend was spent in my sewing room - but not a stitch was stitched. Instead, I got stuck in to some desperately-needed sorting and tidying, spurred on by a desire to actually be able to see the floor  and to find my lucky door tickets for the local retreat I'm going to next weekend. I haven't found them yet - but I did manage to find lovely stuff I'd forgotten about, to display some of my charm square packs in the rope basket my friend Jeni made me for Christmas and to do some general prettifying (the photo in the header shows the top of the chest that holds all sorts of fabrics  and is displaying some of my favourite things, including my Happy Hens from NZ.) Oh, and my collection of Liberty prints - much bigger than I'd realised - is now sitting prettily in a set of colourful  display suitcases purchased from my local quilt shop, Cotton Factory I'm pretty happy about all of that. The tidying will be continuing during the week - and hopefully my sewing table will soon be organised enough for some creativity.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Making, baking

Nothing to show here on the stitching front (although I'm  working on a little project as a swap gift for a local weekend retreat next month) but I'm  keeping busy and creative, making things  like this ...  Hitchhiker Shawl ( an easy peasy knit provided your adjustable circular needles don't keep unscrewing themselves and then breaking , as mine did - sigh)


and this ...

and this...  yes, I made   butter - just because I could ...


and these - can you tell I like messing about in the kitchen?


and looking at lovely things like this - such a beautiful exhibition ...


and these - gorgeous blooms at Lambley  Nursery, which has the most beautiful gardens and is always a joy to visit  ...



and a fun time with a dear  friend from Hobart who lived on the five-acre block next door when our children were small - lots of outings and happy memories.

I hope the merry month of May is being good to you too.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Here be dragons

We headed off with friends on a little road trip yesterday. First stop was the monthly Talbot market - always a favourite destination. Talbot is a tiny town  - its population of under 300 swells dramatically on market day - and streets in the centre are closed off. For once, we were early, so strolling along and having a good look at all the wares for sale (wine, food, plants, chickens, you name it ...) Some after-breakfast dumplings and coffee really hit the spot ... I came home with a gorgeous little china dish, ornamental plants and garlic for planting or eating.

Then it was on to Bendigo, which, like Ballarat, was a prosperous gold town, full of history and the majestic buildings of the era. Bendigo also has a rich history of Chinese settlement and culture and its Easter parade featured dragons galore. Seeing Gum Loong, at 100m the longest dragon in the world , was really special, despite all the heads and bodies in the way (I still can't figure out why the very tall man sitting  in the front row thought it was okay to stand all through the  two-hour parade, preventing me and others from getting a half-decent view). There were smaller dragons galore, firecrackers, fabulous, colourful Chinese costumes  ... I've never seen anything like it. My photos aren't great but they'll give you some idea of how impressive it was.




And then there was the quilt show... rooms full of beautiful works by the local Strathdale Quilters group. These are a few of my favourites. 


And this is my absolute favourite  - is it cute or what! It was driven in the parade.



Such a great day out.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Easter

There's a little bit of Easter decorating at my place - chooks and bunnies and chocolate  (thank you again, Susan, for the fabulous little mat) ...



... and a whole lot of chocolate (far too much of it - I won first prize in a raffle yesterday. Sharing with my husband and friends, you'll be glad to know.)




Monday, February 27, 2017

OPAM

I've signed up for OPAM again this year - am having a slower than usual start to my sewing year  (and blogging - shame on me!) so need something to spur me into action. I always like to look back through my OPAM lists and see what's been made and when.
 Not much so far this year - just two pairs of knitted baby shoes for two new little girls and a Fan Bag (designed by the wonderful Nikki) for my daughter Rosy.  Oh, and this mug rug /mini quilt designed  by lovely Amanda to mark the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar. It was such a perfect gift and she loved it  - my girl lives in China and came home for a holiday during her Chinese new year break.

Late last year I signed up for an international polaroid block swap. Have you made this type of block? I hadn't and really enjoyed making them - they're perfect for using little quirky  scraps. Still not sure what I'll do with my 20 little blocks - a mini quilt? a cushion cover? but I'll enjoy working it out.