Monday, December 31, 2012

Titan Arum Opens and a Quilt Top Finished

I went back to the Royal Botanical Gardens on Boxing Day. I asked a friend if she would like to walk around the tan, which is a gorgeous running track around the outside of the gardens and make a little side journey to the flower. We arrived early and there was already a queue forming and TV crew inside filming the event. My friend was very patient with me and waited to be allowed in. We were not disappointed. The flower had opened and fortunately for us, it had not begun to smell yet!

With that done, a walk in the glorious sunshine followed by a cup of coffee at the Observatory cafe made the outing complete.
I have been enjoying my holidays and have been walking every morning.
It had been very quiet at home with my 3 sons overseas, enjoying their uni holidays until the youngest returned early with a bought of glandular fever. He had actually been away for nearly a year having a gap year before starting his first year of university so I was very happy to have him home and have someone to care for. He is mending well and in between the doctor's visits and catch up cleanup I have had to do, I have had a lot of time for sewing. Most of it has been finishing up projects however I was asked to make another quilt top for my friend Rivka.
She came over with all her fabrics in tow. We cut, ironed and pinned and then I sewed it all up. It only took a couple of days to get the top done.
3 more days and I am off to India.
Can't wait!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Quilt Top and a bit of Gardening

The last few days have been a frenzy of activity as I have tried to cram in all the activities I have put aside while I have been working. On top of this, despite being childless at the moment, I have been trying to sort out all my sons' issues from afar. Things like uni enrollments, teacher registrations, stat declarations, illness and early returns and job terminations. Thank goodness for wifi and smart phones. In between I have been stitching and preparing a few tops for basting. Today, I hope to get 2 done.
I made this over the last 2 days.
I lovely lady at work was cleaning out her garage and had rolls of fabric to get rid of.
When she gave them to me, I was a bit unsure of what I was going to do with them so I packed them away for further thought. I am unused to having large quantities of fabric and most of the stuff I work with is less than a metre long. Here were metres of plains that were of a very unusual palate.
Because I had so much of it, I thought I could afford to experiment. I have always wanted to make a triangle quilt but was a bit scared of the joins. I took all the fabrics, chopped them up, laid them out and this is what I got. I didn't stare at it, rearrange, nothing. This is pretty much my first layout.
In normal situations, I would never put these colours together but I am really quite pleased with the result. There is bright red and rusty brown as well as 3 shades of yellow and the pink. The colours are a bit hard to discern from the photos. I found the triangles to be a cinch! Much easier than diamonds to put together.
As for the gardening, a rather rare thing is about to happen at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. They have a Titan Arum plant which is about to flower. Flowering is very rare and quite spectacular. I had never heard about this plant until I started teaching Year 2. One of the first comprehension pieces we use is about this monster plant. For 3 years running I have been talking about this plant and here it is in real life! I dragged my poor and only mildly interested husband along for the viewing. The plant is only about my height at the moment but it grows 10cm at day and by Christmas Day it should be open.
When it opens the frilly lower section peels back and is a rusty red colour on the inside. The point bit is covered in lots of tiny flowers that stink like off meat to attract flies and bugs to it so that they will pollinate it. It is in flower for about a day and then it dies.

I am coming back when the action starts. It should be at least 2 metres tall by then and very smelly.
The gardens are stunning at the moment and worth a visit.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Colourful Post

I was just playing with my wish list on Amazon when I accidentally hit the buy button and that was that! Oops I thought, I really didn't need to spend all that money. Too late, I thought. But 2 days later I received an email to say that my credit card was wrong and and could I update the details. At that point, I could have cancelled the order (but I didn't) and so just a few days later 2 out of 3 books arrived on my doorstep. 
I'm not really into autobiographies but having met Kaffe and loved his work for so long, I think I might find it interesting. Of course, if all else fails, I can just look at the pictures.
On the completed list this week was another shawl made from a single ball of wool.
This one is called Holden Shawlette by Mindy Wilkes and you can download the pattern from Ravelry for free.
It is a good one for beginners.

Way back, I stitched a quilt top using mostly Malka Dubrawsky fabrics.
I was very lazy and did not pin the rows together and they ended up being rather warped.
I bought the fabric a year ago but it was so badly put together I don't think I took any photos of it and certainly didn't look at it again until now. I get like that with work I hate. I can't bare to touch it until it is fresh and the failure is forgotten because it becomes a chore if I have to keep fixing it.
Anyway today I unpicked and restitched it up and I am much happier with it.
So here is the other colourful part of my post.
In the shade
In the sun

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mobile Phone Bag

I was going to put this post on using an alternative method to get round the Blogger restrictions but for some unknown reason, this is working just fine today.
Here is a little mobile phone bag I made for a co worker who is always losing her phone.
I made 2 of the these bags. The first one was a bit small and I had trouble attaching the straps.
No. 2 is much happier. Spacious and functional.
Not much patchwork is happening as I finalise my year of teaching. It is such a busy time of year.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Zakka Style Noteboard

So now I know I can use Flickr, I think I will have to change the way I blog if I wish to stay with Blogger. I tried cleaning up my Picassa photos and found stacks of duplicates. When I deleted the duplicates, they disappeared from my blog!

Zakka Style Noteboard

Here is one of the things I made. Just checking if I can use this as a way to get photos up.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Happier This Time with Zakka but not with Blogger

It was time to try another Zakka Project and this time I was much happier with the results.
2 Mini Reminder Boards for the classroom. I'm not sure how useful they will be but they are fun.
I would love to show you a picture of what I made but I just received a message saying I am over my quota of photos!
What quota?
Has anyone else received a message about quotas?
What do I do now?
I already pay Flickr for photo storage but I naively thought Blogger would go on forever.
Obviously not so. I wish I could speak to a real person about all of this instead of trawling through all the info.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Failure and Success

I'm not very good at following patterns. I know that I should be with all the sewing I do but I find it really hard to imagine what the process is supposed to look like and I make lots of mistakes and get very, very annoyed.
So the failure of this story was my attempt at following a Zakka pattern. I though I might make something for the teachers I work with at school. What could be better than a couple of pencil cases? I know that there are restrictions on how much info you can give in a book because each page published is an added expense but I need pictures - lots of pictures. These little fellows were eventually finished but they are not what I envisioned at all, especially their size which was tiny.
The one in the book is gorgeous and it is not to blame, I'm just a bit lacking. 

You can't even fit a normal sized pencil in it and close the flap.
I'm sure I could adapt the measurements now that I've done it all the way through but then I decided that I didn't want to give pencil cases anymore so I'm ditching the idea.
Today was my success story.
I was reading Nikki's blog (You Sew Girl) during the week.
She was wearing a rather neat little apron that I thought I might like to make.
You can have a peek at hers if you go here.
On an impulse I bought the pattern and within seconds I could download it - all 19 pages of it!
I was already cursing myself as I flicked through the pages and trembled at the thought of getting through it all. You see now that I had spent money on it, I had to make the thing. What I noticed with this tome of instructions was that it contained lots and lots of pictures and handy hints for the innocent and inexperienced.
I cut out the fabric last night and set to stitching today.
I won't say it was easy, because for me, it wasn't but I will say that I managed to finish the apron within a few hours and I only made one mistake that took about 5 minutes to fix.
Thank you Nikki for an excellently written pattern that even I could follow.

My photos aren't great. There are 2 zippered pockets hiding inside and lots of compartments which is very handy for money and keys.
I put in zips! Yippee!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Pigs Made Me Do It.

Not so long ago I found myself making an x + quilt. It was filled with lots of lovely 2" squares and tiny little triangles. It was fiddly, time consuming and annoying until the end when I decided it was fabulous. Despite the happy ending, I swore if I ever made another one it would be with bigger blocks.
Then along came these sweet little pigs.

I didn't even need new fabric but I had a gift voucher for fabric at Central Park Patchwork and discovered that they were selling all their patchwork fabric off and changing the whole shop around to sell just Liberty and linen. Not one to waste a perfectly good gift voucher, the pigs came home with me. Pouring over all the blocks in Judy Hopkin's '501 Rotary Cut Quilt Blocks' book, I found a sort of donut block that I could centre the pigs in. The only problem was that it required lots of dreaded 2" blocks. Despite this shortcoming I started cutting fabric last weekend.
I discovered that I was not nearly as irritated by all the little pieces as last time. This was much easier to piece and I could use up so many little pieces from my scrap pile.

I've made about 30 blocks now and 20 more are nearly done. I will have to make another 6 to get it to 7x8 size and then I will decide if I will add borders. 

It's actually been very good therapy for me.
I've been writing reports and I usually have trouble sitting at the PC for long periods of time. Whenever I got sick of the reports I just picked up where I left off on the blocks.
This weekend was very good for working. Two of my sons are studying for exams so we have all been peacefully working on our projects.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

At Least it is Still in the Same Year

The first record I have of this quilt is in January 2012.

Flickr is great because it keeps a photo journal of what I have made and also tells me when I uploaded the photos.

It has taken me 10 months to get the border on. I just couldn't decide what would be the best fabric to use. Then I couldn't get any of the fabric in Melbourne so I had to order it from overseas. I am not totally thrilled with the way it looks but I am thrilled that I don't have to think about it any more. I think the border makes it look less happy and darkens the feel of it.

The black background fabric with the daisies has been chosen for the backing and it is ready to stretch.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Parson Gray Play

In the beginning there were some blocks.
I was happy with them at the time but had run out of fabric to make more blocks that size and I really didn't know what else to do with them so they were packed away and boxed. That was in July.
When I came back from overseas I was a bit at a loss as to what I wanted to make. I had been knitting on the trip so it was hard to get my head into fabric. As well as that, the catch up on blogs was huge and my mind was all in a spin because of the new sounds and sights I had experienced during my travels.
Last week I opened the shoe box containing these Parson Gray blocks and thought they would be a simple way to start sewing again. I bought a little bit more fabric and made a few more blocks. It was just a little bit boring but I cut and patched about half an hour each day.
I had enough blocks to make something but it didn't quite feel right.
It needed some life to it. I had saved all the corners from the snowballs so I sewed a whole lot together.

And popped them in the middle of the larger blocks. Unfortunately the block ended up half an inch larger than the other blocks. I really wanted it in the quilt so to compromise and accommodate its size without trimming it, I sewed all the other blocks with an eighth inch seam and that seemed to work!

Feeling that the quilt was still missing a bit of oomph I added a border of cut offs from all the 3 inch squares. It seemed to make the whole thing feel a bit more alive.

Of course, the minute I laid it out on the grass, the neighbour's cat, Remy, came to investigate.
It's not a very large quilt but I am ready to say it's complete.
This is the scarf I made while away. I had no issues knitting on the plane. It seems the knitting needle is no longer considered a dangerous weapon.
This is a very blue post!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Travels Abroad

Living in Australia means that when you go overseas, it really means traveling far away from home. My son has been taking a gap year in Israel, living on a kibbutz and doing charity work teaching underprivileged kids. My husband and I decided to visit him and were absolutely amazed by what this tiny country has achieved in the short years of its existence.
First of all, what struck us was the vibrancy and energy of the people and cities. The place totally buzzes all day and night. People are out and places are open to all hours so there is always somewhere to go and something to do.
The whole country is steeped in ancient history.
Roaming the old city of Jerusalem was like finding yourself in a maze.

It was fascinating and exciting to weave our way through the tiny stone paved streets.
Free tours are the go, taking you to all the different quarters of the old city in Jerusalem.
Of course there were wonderful mosaics and tiled floors to be inspired by.

 These three coming from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. 
Wonderful doorways in the artist's quarters,

 Ancient suburbs in Tel Aviv, that are being restored and brought to life with designer boutiques and lively restaurants.

Arab spice shops in Akko, a town steeped in history and filled with ancient ruins.

Fresh food markets to die for!
And a rather thriving street art culture where grafitti is rather appreciated.

 Cats prowl everywhere.
Apparently they were brought in to get rid of all the mice.
Although the cats are ferral they are incredibly gentle and everyone seems to take care of them and appreciate their being all over the place. Not a mouse was to be seen.
When I mentioned that our cats have to be locked up in our homes at night they were horrified and wanted to know what we did with all our rats!
Most of the country gets to enjoy a glorious sunset every night.
 Any yes, I did buy some jewelry by Ayala Bar although not this particular piece.
My husband was very, very patient.