Sunday, 14 February 2021

I had intended to make a word for this month but I think this heart block will suffice and will work in with my very loose plan of amalgamating several projects together.  I haven't actually pulled out the other projects yet, I'll leave that for another day.


 Our guild has full intentions to hold our Festival of Quilts this year  - 30 April to 2nd May 2021. We can enter a maximum of eight quilts this year.  I've entered five quilts, but still have to finish two of them and sort out labels, numbers and hanging sleeves for most of them.

The Ninety-nine quilt (pictured above and below) is undergoing quilting.  Most of the ditch stitching is finished and I have to decide how to quilt the outside border, once that is done I will probably finish off the rest of the ditching and decide how much more quilting to do.  There is a bit over two months until the show so I should have plenty of time to get everything done.

Murphy is growing fast, he is almost five months now, we took him to puppy training classes on Saturday and were pleasantly surprised how well he behaved.  To help socialise him we are going out for coffee most days so he can get used to different places and people coming and going.  Schnauzers can be quite a yappy breed (Schnauzer people call it squealing) and are not afraid to make their presence seen and heard.  I'm hoping it is something that we can train out of him (or at least minimise), as I don't think people enjoying their coffee want to be subjected to a yelping dog for too long.

One thing in our favour is that he is loves his food so we have bowls of kibble and treats around the house so we can reward him when he does things we want him to do.  I am currently working on stopping him from jumping up on us and I have to admit that somedays I feel a little foolish speaking to him in a high pitched, happy voice, but hey, that is what he responds best to so I will persist.




Monday, 1 February 2021

This was the view to the north east of our house on Sunday January 24th, it was our hottest day (40°C/104°F) this year.  This is not just any old cloud, it is a Pyrocumulonimbus  (commonly abbreviated to pyroCB), the cloud was forming because there was a bushfire to the north-east of us about 4km (2.5miles) away.  Both the Mister and I have the bushfire app on our phones and as we hadn't received any warning to evacuate, we remained alert but not alarmed.  The Mister took the precaution of clearing debris from our gutters and raking up loose leaves and bark in the garden. There is always the possibility of an ember attack so the less fuel (leaves, bark etc) available the better.

The wind and the fire changed direction, a couple of houses were destroyed and some outbuildings were damaged but no lives were lost.  A man was arrested leaving the scene of a fire at Clarendon which is a little township just over the hill from us. It was a timely warning that we still have a few months until bushfire season is over.

 

My other two hand projects are both appliqué, this one is the Charm Pack Appliqué quilt  a pattern from Wanda Dotson.  I am using two grey charm packs and a Kona Cotton Solids charm pack of mixed colours, the finished blocks will be machine pieced together.  I used my machine to baste all the coloured strips ready to be appliquéd, I've done quite a few blocks already, they don't take up much room so they make a nice portable project.


The other hand appliqué project is my second oldest project and it is in desperate need of attention. It is hard to see but there has been some progress since March 2019, most of the pieces in the corner in this photo have been appliquéd down.  I need to block out some time to choose and cut out the rest of the pieces, once I get my fabric selection eye in then it shouldn't take too long (fingers crossed).  Once this quilt is finished I'm going to get it long-arm quilted, it is a bit too large for me to manage easily.




Friday, 29 January 2021

 

Another finish that I had forgotten about, this one from late last year, the Maker's tote, a Noodlehead pattern. I bought this pattern some time ago and gathered the fabrics in January 2019 but in the meantime I had decided that a couple of my fabric choices would be better used somewhere else (see last photo).

I decided that I didn't need any outside pockets on my bag and used a spotted bias binding instead of my initial striped choice.  I felt the exterior fabric didn't need much quilting so I ditch stitched all the triangles and called it done.

 

I made the large size, there is plenty of room inside, I have managed to fit a small quilt in and still had room for my lunch as well.


If you think you might like to make this tote, I found these tutorials really helpful when it came to making the bag, the links are in reading order:

start here, 

second day,

making the lining

finishing the tote 

I spread the making of the bag out over four days, the hardest part for me was hand sewing on the binding, it was really tough on my hands and binding clips were my friend.

The two black prints from my initial fabric pull have made their way into my FPP version of the Euroa quilt.  I have made a few of these blocks now and think I will keep going until I run out of the fabrics and then it will be pieced into a quilt.


 

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Salad days

 

When the weather is hot, as it is now, I don't like to heat up the house by using the oven so we usually have salads. 39°C/102.2°F and 42°C/107.6°F  are the temperatures we are enduring this weekend. One salad that has been on high rotation is Texas Caviar, I saw it mentioned on a friend's Facebook page, thought the name was intriguing and asked what was in it, he told me and said it was a type of salsa, so I've attempted my own version.

Kinda Texas Caviar 

Makes about 4 serves

Dressing

2 cloves garlic                                 Juice and zest of 1 lime (if not very juicy use two limes)

½ tsp ground cumin                        60ml olive oil

½ tsp brown sugar                           Coriander (cilantro) leaves and stems, half a bunch (I like a lot)

Use a stick blender or food processor to combine the dressing ingredients. Taste to see if you need to add more sugar or lime juice or maybe a bit of salt.

Salad

1 ½ cups cooked black eyed beans (1 x 400g can, rinsed and drained)

1 ½ cups cooked black beans (1 x 400g can, rinsed and drained)

1 ½ cups sweet corn (1 x 400g can, rinsed and drained) you could probably use frozen and thawed corn

½ red pepper (capsicum)  finely diced

½ green pepper (capsicum) finely diced

½ red onion, finely diced

2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (or 2-3 Roma tomatoes, diced)

1 or 2 ripe avocados, diced

1/3 cup coriander (cilantro) finely chopped, you could use parsley

1 green chilli, finely diced (take inner membranes and seeds out if you don’t like it hot)

Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl, mix to combine, pour dressing over, stir through.

Usually served with corn chips, or we like it piled into gem lettuce leaves.

Some notes:

  • I have been cooking the beans myself as it is cheaper, I cook up a fairly large quantity and freeze  the amount required for the recipe.
  • I haven't tried it yet but I think that char grilled fresh corn would be good instead of the canned corn.
  • I prefer diced Roma tomatoes instead of the cherry tomatoes, in the photos I've used both. 
  • We sometimes have grilled, sliced chicken thigh or breast on top to make a more substantial meal.
  • I've also used the dressing as a marinade for chicken breast and as a dip for samosas.  
  • This will still be nice the following day, I will usually put the avocado on separately so it stays nice and fresh.

 

 

Murphy doesn't miss out either, he enjoys having a carrot, they are good for his teeth (especially when he is teething) and they don't get smelly or attract flies like a bone would, especially in the hot weather.


 

Friday, 22 January 2021

Slow handwork

Last weekend was my regular sit and sew group, and as I normally catch public transport there I prefer to take a handwork project as it is so portable, also I don't need to concentrate too much on my sewing and can enjoy chatting.

This time I dug out an oldish EPP project that needs to be finished, while I was at it I found my other unfinished handwork projects.  Altogether I have four handwork projects in slow progress very slow progress, two EPP and two applique.

Originally I was going to make a Crossed Paths Quilt but have since decided that it might be too hard on my hands.  Instead I will make this Cross quilt which I hope will be much easier on my hands and more importantly I already have 23 finished crosses and 7 prepared so a finish could be achieved by the end of the year (fingers crossed). I also have plenty of grey background fabric although I do need to work out how wide a border I want to have and whether to do a 6x6 or a 5x5 block layout, any extra blocks can be utilised on the back of the quilt.

The other EPP project is the Euroa quilt by Cheryl Arkison I have barely started this one but I do have plenty of the paper pieces printed out onto thin card all ready for fabric. I'm also making a Foundation Paper Pieced (FPP) version of this quilt, which might get a look in sometime this year.

I'm not really into the whole fussy cutting thing although there are some blocks on the Cross quilt which were fussy cut, both projects are simple shapes which don't require too much brain power when stitching.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Relaxed

 My word for 2021 is:  Relaxed

 I chose relaxed for my word because I'm over being busy (and being asked if I have a busy day planned, it seems as if it is a competition to be busy) and I think that the way the world is at the moment with COVID-19 it is important to be relaxed as things can change so quickly.

For the improv letters I used some Boro by Moda and the background was the last of the grey linen that Mum gave me a few years back.  I'm thinking that I might be able to work this into a quilt, there are two or three improv quilts that have been marinating for a couple of years and it could be a good way to amalgamate them all together and get a finish of some sort.

     the fabric I used for the letters

Having Murphy in our lives has changed our daily rhythm, I tend to do household stuff while he is asleep so I have very much enjoyed spending an hour or so in my work room while he has been asleep. 

Our original intention was to show him, but the breeder didn't think he was going to be show-worthy as only one testicle had dropped,  (it has since dropped) and dogs need two testicles to enter a conformation show.  Initially we were disappointed but are now quite happy that we won't be showing him as we have more time to enjoy him.

He had his first bath last weekend, he was quite happy to start with but ended up looking like a drowned rat and not so happy.  He is the ideal size to be washed in the laundry tub although I now wish we had installed a tap with a pull out spray as it would have been perfect for rinsing him off.


Murphy has no problems at all with being relaxed and for such a small dog he does take up quite a bit of room on the couch.



 

 


Tuesday, 5 January 2021

While I was pottering around having a little tidy up in my workroom I found the Zip-up tray pouch I had made last year (I forget when) from a pattern by Aneela Hoey

It is a really clever design, starting out as a rectangular shaped box which unzips into a tray which can hold quite a few of your sewing supplies.  I could see it being used for something like holding English Paper Piecing or hand stitching supplies for a sit and sew day.  


 I found the make fairly easy, hand stitching the binding was probably the worst part, as it can be a bit hard on the hands, altough that task is made easier if you have the Clover binding clips or similar to hold the binding in place.  You do need a 10" open ended or separating zipper and double sided heavyweight fusible interfacing, both of which can sometimes be a bit hard to source.  I try and buy from local shops first but have found that Voodoo Rabbit is a good source of bag making supplies.

 

If you are on Instagram search #zipuptraypouch for inspiration (just in case you feel like making one).

This morning we took Murphy on an outing to Bunnings (which I think is similar to Home Depot but maybe not quite as large).  Most stores in Australia do not permit dogs to enter (unless they are service dogs) and I think Bunnings is the exception.  The dog must be leashed and in a shopping trolley, Murphy seemed quite comfortable with the experience.  It is a great way to socialise a puppy, I think he liked the fact that he was up high and could see everything.  The two young girls on the checkouts gave him a lot of pats, they said seeing all the dogs is the highlight of their shift.

 



Thursday, 31 December 2020

Goodbye to 2020

We are nearing the end of the year and I think for most people it has been a roller coaster of a year.

Towards the end of June, I lost interest in blogging, in fact I lost interest in doing anything much, I wasn't depressed I just felt it was easier to not make plans and please myself about what I wanted to do or not do.

 these two magpies are regular visitors to our backyard, I'm constantly amazed by their trust

The pandemic also made me think about my daily habits a bit and I have come to realise that I need to prioritise our health and wellbeing. This has meant a few small adjustments in our lifestyle, we incorporated a daily walk, changed our eating habits (no more baking or evening snacks) and I also decided that I needed to sit less and move more throughout my day.

Sitting less and moving more has had an impact on my quilting, I'm no longer happy to spend the whole day sitting and sewing at the sewing machine in my workroom.  In my last blog post, I see that I had nine quilt tops and batting stacked up waiting for some backing fabric and quilting, seven of them are still waiting, but I'm ok with that, I have quilting plans for a couple of them and they will all get finished eventually. In the meantime I'm not making plans to start on any more quilts until I get a few more closer to being finished.

In October I did a YouTube interview with Cindy and Jane, a couple of the roving reporters from our Guild, you can watch it over here.

Our guild has really embraced everything digital and has their own YouTube channel  with various other interviews and visits with South Australian quilters and quilt groups, with no Guild meetings it has been a good way to get to know a bit about other quilters in our guild.

 In the middle of November, South Australia had a short lived circuit breaker lockdown. Initially we were supposed to remain in our homes for six days, there was to be no going out except for essential activities (exercise was not one of those). Once again there was a mad rush of people buying up things like toilet paper etc. I managed to get my daily walk in by walking around the outside of our house, it was a little boring but I had a good playlist to listen to.  Much to the relief of everyone the lockdown was lifted after two days and we could go back to pre-lockdown conditions although mask wearing is recommended if unable to physically distance.  I usually have a mask in my bag in case I feel the need to wear one e.g. on public transport, or in large crowds.

how the satellite tracked my daily walks around the house

Just after that we welcomed a miniature Schnauzer we named Murphy into our life, we haven't had a dog for nearly 20 years and now we have a puppy!!  (in the video I mention that we had planned to call him Magnum, but he didn't look like a Magnum he looked more like a Murphy).

He has been with us for almost six weeks, I found the first couple of weeks hard work, especially as I was the one who had to take him out for toilet breaks during the night (the Mister sleeps through all noise).  There is still the occasional accident which occur when we don't pick up on his cues, but he uses his dog door quite well and sleeps all night (he also snores very loudly).

Murphy is in the teething stage now, a very apt description I read was that teething puppies are like land sharks, everything within nibbling distance is fair game, which is why there is a quilt piled on top of the couch in the photo below. He also has his own IG account @murphy_our_schnauzer

I have managed to get the binding finished on this quilt while he was asleep.  He divides his daytime sleeping time between me and the Mister, a perfect angel while he is asleep.

2020 has been a most unusual year but a new year is coming.



Sunday, 26 July 2020

Making preparations

Last week when I cut the batting for the Plaid-ish 2 quilt, I thought while the batting roll was out from its storage place under the bed, I should cut the batting for the nine other quilts that are waiting to be quilted.  As you can see, my "to be quilted" pile is getting a bit high, the next task will be to cut backing fabric or make backings then sandwich and baste them ready for quilting.


A couple of weeks ago I signed up for an online machine quilting class, I'm hoping it will give me the motivation to get all of those quilts finished.  There are six lessons with video tutorials and a workbook, the first lesson has introduced us to the basics so we could prepare our quilt sandwiches ready for the free motion quilting next week. I always knew all those fat quarters of solids that I bought would come in handy one day, although the colour combinations are not that wonderful in some of them.

  

My daffodils seem to think that winter is almost over, the days might be getting longer but there is still another month to go.  I think there are over 24 buds this year, they will make a lovely bright spot of colour in the garden once they all flower.


The weekend wouldn't be complete without a little baking, this time I made Caramel Slice, it is quite rich so best served in small portions. Next time I will bake the slice in a slightly larger tin so the ratio of caramel to biscuit base is more even.  


Monday, 20 July 2020

A totally finished quilt!!


my favourite quilting design

I finished the flimsy of this quilt on 2 July, it sat around for a bit while I finished some other tops, I started the quilting last Thursday afternoon and finished on Friday,  the binding was finished on Sunday afternoon.  


The quilting is fairly minimal but has given it a nice texture and I think the binding is perfect for the quilt.


The back of the quilt, the backing was pieced from some leftover backing fabric.


Quilt statistics:
Pattern by Kitchen Table Quilting - Plaid-ish 2 a free quilt pattern
Finished quilt size: 50" x 50"
Polyester batting
Backing - Carolyn Friedlander Widescreen in Lingerie and Yarrow
Binding - Amy Butler English Garden in Bluestone
Quilted with Aurifil 40 wt #5011 Rope Beige, bobbin Magnaglide Classic Light Tan
The quilting was done on my Simply 16