Thursday, 21 September 2017

Flimsy finish

I started this Seabreeze Quilts Mystery Sampler quilt three years ago, (I really didn't think it was that long ago)  I had decided to use only fabrics from my stash for this quilt and I was using the light coloured  spot fabric in each block for continuity purposes. 

I found the blocks under some fabric stacks when I was having my declutter week, eight of them were finished and I needed to finish the other four blocks, luckily all the fabrics had been stored with the blocks so that was a start.  I found the instructions and got sewing, I ended up having to piece together some of the light coloured spot fabric so that I would have enough to use in each block. 

The blocks were all together, now I had to find enough fabric for the sashing, luckily I had enough grey fabric but I had to be careful when I did the cutting.  Using corner blocks gave me a few extra inches for the long borders, now I just have to quilt it.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Still dyeing a little bit more

Earlier this year I was having a big declutter of fabric and I came across a heap of wool squares that I had cut up in anticipation of using one day.  Winter was approaching and I thought a wool blanket might be a good idea, which meant that one day had arrived, so I just started stitching the squares together.  

Let me tell you that you get quite a thick seam stitching wool together, so instead of pressing to one side I decided that I would press the seams open and then stitch them down again on each side which would keep them nice and flat, and as the wool is felted wool there should be no problems with fraying.   I also decided to offset each row of squares so there were no thick intersections and it saved me having to think about matching seams :)

I spent a pleasant weekend sewing wool squares together, to finish it I used some different coloured binding strips of cotton fabric for a machined binding.  It was only when I was finishing stitching the binding on that I remembered that there was more wool fabric stored somewhere else :(  It is getting a bit warm to use a wool blanket now, but today I found the other container of fabric and looked it over with a view to cutting it up ready to stitch.

Looking at the wool I thought it all looked a bit too brown and it occurred to me that I could dye some of the cream and offwhite pieces of blanket that were also in the box.  I cut three pieces off, soaked them in an acid bath and then started dyeing them, I was aiming for a lime green, aqua blue and a pinky-red,

the two different pieces of wool I used for my experiment,
one is a plain cream and the other a large check in cream and taupe

and this is what happened, the colours in the photo are quite true, they are still damp so might lighten a bit once they have dried.  I'm quite happy with how the colours turned out, once I get some more yellow food colouring I will try to get a bright orange piece of fabric, and then perhaps I will start making another blanket.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Dyeing to try something different

While my sister Jenny was here in August she knitted some hats for me.  Two were knitted in a possum/merino blend which was a taupey brown colour and the other used an alpaca yarn in a kind of dirty looking, washed out pale aqua blue.  Back in New Zealand Jenny had been experimenting with dyeing the possum yarn with food colouring, so we decided to try a little bit of dyeing while she was here. 

  Possum/merino hat soaking in citric acid and water mixture

Basically the wool yarn (or garment) is soaked in an acid solution for about an hour, then a dye solution of water, food colouring and vinegar is made, the yarn is added to it and gently agitated in the dye solution, then heated.  (We used a microwave to heat the dye solution but it is possible to do the heating on a hotplate.)  Once the dye has been taken up the yarn is then left to cool in the dye solution for 30 minutes or so then the wool can be gently rinsed until the water runs clear, spun in the washing machine to get out all the water then dried flat.

one of the hats after the dyeing has almost finished,

This hat was knitted in alpaca and was originally the same colour as the knitted garment underneath

We had already dyed one possum hat with red food colouring (the left hand side)  but it came out quite blotchy, the one on the right was dyed with rose pink food colouring, it has some faint blotches as well. (The photos aren't quite true to colour possibly because the photos were taken outside and I think the colour is a bit washed out.)  The original possum/merino blend is underneath and is in reality a wee bit darker than the photo shows (the photo of the hat soaking in the acid mix is closer to the true colour)

Jenny mentioned that it is easier to dye skeins of yarn and if there is a bit of blotching then it is less noticeable once a garment has been knitted.  The aqua blue hat had very few blotches, we're not sure if this is because it was a different yarn (alpaca) or because we used a larger container for the dyeing which meant that the hat had a bit more space to move around in the container. 

The dyeing procedure doesn't take too long and it was a fun way to spend an hour or so on a gloomy, rainy winter day.

Thursday, 14 September 2017


I made and finished this quilt earlier this year, I thought I had some progress photos but I can't find them, I suspect I deleted them once I had worked out how I wanted the quilt to look.  It started out as a way to use up larger fabric scraps, I wanted to make large blocks and I remembered that Bonnie Hunter's blog had a tutorial for Scrappy Trips around the World which made 12.5" blocks.

It didn't take me too long to cut the fabric strips and start stitching them together, then I played around with a few layouts until I found the one I liked and started stitching the blocks together. 

quilt backing in progress

The backing fabric was a bit of a no brainer, I was still trying to use up fabric scraps and had plenty left over and it seemed quite apt to make a giant block for the backing. This also meant I could use up the extra block I had made and make one square the quilt label.

The straight line quilting was done on my Bernina 750QE, I used various different colour threads so the quilting would blend in with the various fabrics.  The binding was made using a Kaffe Fassett Spots fabric in blue, the quilt is called Deviations on a World Trip.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

A family favourite

This recipe was one of Mum's favourites which I have been making quite a bit recently.  It is a lovely savoury scone with a corn filling, great for a savoury snack or to have with soup instead of bread.  My apologies for the not so great photos, I took them in between mixing and rolling the scone dough, and dough covered hands don't mix well with cameras.

Corn Krollen

1/2 cup finely chopped onion                   2 rashers of bacon, chopped (optional)
2 garlic cloves, crushed                            1 anchovy, finely chopped (optional)
1 tin creamed corn (125g size)                 1/2 cup kernel corn (tinned or frozen)
15g butter  (or 1 Tbsp olive oil)               freshly ground black pepper to taste
170g tasty cheese, grated                          1/2 - 1 cup finely chopped spring onions (optional)

In a saucepan melt the butter (or warm the olive oil, if using) saute onions (and bacon, if using) and garlic until cooked, add the corn, anchovy and black pepper, mix together and let cool completely before using.

Scone Mixture

340g Self Raising flour                            1/2 tsp salt
2 Tsp baking powder                                85g butter
1 cup tasty cheese, grated                         1 1/4 cup milk

Sift dry ingredients into large bowl, rub in the butter, add the cheese and stir to mix, then add the milk and make a dough. Knead lightly and roll out the scone mixture to make  a large rectangle.
Spread the cold corn mixture over the rectangle, leaving a couple of inches of scone mixture showing on one long side. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the corn mixture, then roll up as if you are making a swiss roll. (start rolling opposite the end that has scone mixture showing)  Cut into slices and place on a baking paper lined tray so the cut side is facing up (see the last photo).

Bake at 200°C for about 20-25 minutes, the time will vary depending on your oven and the size of the krollen, you want them to have a browned, crusty appearance and to be cooked all the way through, there is nothing worse than uncooked dough.

the mixture ready to be rolled


the rolled up mixture before slicing

Recently I have started using the following scone mix, I prefer the zing that the cayenne gives.

2 cups flour               4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt                 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp butter             1 cup tasty cheese, grated
2/3 cup milk

Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl, rub or grate butter into dry ingredients, toss in the cheese and mix around, add the milk and mix to make a stiff dough.

The corn krollen cooking in the oven (the photo isn't very good because of the oven light)

Sunday, 10 September 2017

I know

that spring is really here when my native mint bush (Prostanthera - native mint bush) starts flowering. It has been a joy to have this growing in our garden, it doesn't require much care beyond pruning back once a year and a little extra water on the really hot days.

The daffodils seem to have their own timetable and bloomed a few weeks ago which was when the photo was taken, they are looking a bit bedraggled now.  Other spring bulbs are starting to pop up as well, I spotted a couple of freesias and some hyacinths this morning.

I finished quilting my Anna Maria Horner workshop piece in February and decided to enter it in our guild quilt show which was held in July, I was over the moon to get a red ribbon for it :)

I really enjoyed quilting this piece, there was no real plan to the quilting, it was just "quilt as desired", I loved how the feathers around the leaves turned out.

The majority of the applique was machine appliqued and although I enjoy hand applique it has become apparent that my hands do not enjoy it quite as much so I think my machine applique skills will continue to increase.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Some tough times and some hard times

The past 12 months or so have been a difficult time for our family, our mother died just over a year ago and our father died in June this year. After Dad died my sister Jenny said "we're orphans now, Pip" and while I usually associate the word orphan with children the general definition is for someone who has lost both parents so Jenny was quite correct in what she said.

The best way I've found to express how I've been feeling is that in the beginning, most days were like cloudy, overcast days with no end in sight, but then eventually the cloudy days have turned into days with sunny periods and now most days are sunny although once in a while a very cloudy day will pop up.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Anzac Day 2017

“Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours,
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well”.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk - 1934

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

I'm not sure

if I really need one of these as I seem to be doing all right without one, but it was fun making it and gave me a chance to keep my foundation paper piecing skills up to speed.  The free pattern is available at Paper Panache Paper-Pieced quilt patterns, I made the Mini Round Tuit, you can read more about the origins of a round tuit here

I also drew up the block below then made a test block to see how it would work out and it looks ok, so I will go ahead and make some more of these which will help make some progress on another UFO.

While I was sewing away, I could hear a baby galah squawking for food, I grabbed my camera and spotted it sitting in the neighbour's gum tree with the parent on the left.  They can be very noisy, almost deafening when hungry but this one wasn't too loud, the tail feathers haven't fully grown in yet but they still manage to fly quite well despite that.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

No Interruptions

When the Mister is away on a motorbike trip I get plenty of uninterrupted sewing time, in fact the only interruption is when Cody decides that he is hungry and comes to tell me that it is dinnertime :)

I've had these blocks for quite some time they were from a block swap I took part in and I had set them aside for when I had more time to put them together and that time was this weekend.

Rather than fuss about trying to get matching seams I added a fabric strip to the top of two of the block rows, another fabric strip to the bottom and then stitched them together, I rather like the result. Conveniently I had quite a few strips of the spotted fabric stashed away with the blocks so used them for the side borders/strips.

 I'm a bit over large quilts (they are a PITA to baste and quilt) so decided to make two smaller quilts but once finished I thought that rather than having to quilt two quilts, I would use one for the backing and save myself the extra quilting.