The Gardens of Chiconia 51

And now for something a little bit fruity. Again.

The Ducasse banana is looking a little bleary eyed and weary. We had a heavy rain shower the other night and the next couple of rows of flowers copped a bit of a beating. The green ants are all over the bunch as well, so I guess it’s not really a surprise. However, the bananas that have developed are looking good, as you can see.

I had a bit of a revelation the other day. Beside our front gate there is a tree that was attractive but not terribly interesting apart from its pretty leaves. The tops are dark green and glossy, and the underside is golden-amber and slightly felty-feeling. Pretty, eh? For the four years that we’ve lived in this house, said tree did precisely nothing apart from grown half a metre a year.

This year?  It’s covered in bright green golf-ball sized fruit that look like miniature Granny Smith apples. I cut one open to discover a star shaped pattern of seeds inside, but not much else. It wasn’t till the neighbour hung over the fence and asked if I minded him helping himself to some ripe ‘star apples’ from the branches overhanging his side that I got an insight. The green jobs are unripe. When ripe, the skins go a glossy dark reddish purple, as does the flesh inside. It’s sweet, custard-textured and delicious. Of course, none of the fruit on our side is ripe yet, but I tried a bit from Brian’s side…. Anyway, the thing’s called Chrysophyllum cainito, it originated in the West Indies and now grows in tropical regions around the world. The fruit, bark and leaves are supposed to have health benefits, but personally, I’ll be sticking to the fruit.

Assuming Brian Next Door and the hungry birds leave me any, that is… 


Becoming… something

Yes, OK, it’s a weird title, but all will be explained shortly.

I’m in a clearing out mood just now. I have recently sent for recycling several things which definitely fell into the “what was I thinking?” category. And then there was the old shopping bag. Here’s the deal.

Way, way back in the mists of time (oh, very well, about 14 years ago if you insist on accuracy), I was young(er), single and comparatively affluent. I certainly had disposable cash for pretty stuff. One day I fell in love with a bag. It was stiff white leather (what was I thinking?), tall, capacious and it had a beautiful piece of fabric set into the front. For all of three days I carried it around. And then I had to stop. The handles were excruciatingly uncomfortable. The straps that went over the top simply would not line up with their magnetic clips. It got dirty if you just looked at it. It became my magazine holder, so I could still look at that lovely fabric. But it fell over all the time.

Over the years, it migrated into my sewing area and then into the dark and cobwebby corners, holding abandoned attempts at knitting. It became the Bag of Shame. It was old, but virtually unused. And yesterday, enough was enough. I cut out that beautiful panel of fabric, and I consigned the rest of it to the outer darkness.

The fabric sang me a siren song yesterday morning, asking for attention, and this is what it has become. I have no idea what it’s for. The fabric panel (at top left) is stiff and heavy – visualise curtain fabric with triple-pass blackout coating on the back. It’s too stiff for any kind of furnishing item such as a cushion cover, or for a garment (although I suppose a panel on the back of a jacket might work). It’s 18 inches (46cm) high x 13 inches (33cm) wide.

I could just hang it on the wall and still be able to admire that piece of fabric I fell in love with all those years ago, but in my ideal world, things are useful as well as beautiful.

So, I’d like your thoughts on what this might become. I simply cannot put it back into some dark corner and forget it. Again…

Scrappy follow-up

I finished it!

This ScrapHappy cushion cover is so cheery and bright, I just had to get it done. Just look at those colours, don’t they make you want to break out in a big grin? Even if these aren’t your colours, it’s like the sun came out.

The quilting sort of decided itself. I was going to do wavy lines, but then I thought, I always do wavy lines. How about cross-hatching? Nah, I do cross hatching when-ever I don’t do wavy lines. So I did half-hatching at 1½ inch intervals, but rotated it through 90° in each quadrant.

I really love how it looks, and I’ll use this again. Oh, and I quilted it in bright green, which really zings against the pink, yellow and orange!

I did my usual central zipper closure concealed by a flap, and bound it with a narrow quilt binding, which is a lovely quick finishing method and gives a crisper finish than turning the seam. It also means that there are no raw edges inside. Plus it gave me an excuse to squeeze a little bit more yellow into the job 😉

There you go then, Vera. Would you like me to send it on ahead, as a sort of deposit for the quilt?

Go Teal it on the Mountain #3

And the next one.

A bit of straightforward appliqué this time. The pieces are applied using blanket stitch, strengthened with an inner line of straight stitching. I lightly spray-basted the pieces to hold them in position while I stitched them down, rather than fusing them to the background. This allows me to trim away the excess fabric at the back, which prevents the block getting too thick and stiff. I used tear-away stabiliser behind the pieces to stop the blanket stitch ‘channelling’ and drawing up the background too much.

I like this one a lot. The moon is a white on cream brocade print which looks like the cratering on the surface of the moon. I blanket stitched down the edge with cream, and then used a silver metallic thread and cream in the bobbin to do the inner stitching line. It gives the moon just a tiny hint of sparkle. Doesn’t show up in the photo, of course, but you can see it in daylight.

I’ll also have to make the usual teal Ovarian Cancer ribbon block to go in the centre at the bottom of the quilt, but I might wait a bit and see how many blocks I get in before I make any more.

Perhaps I’ll go a bit more abstract next time…


Go Teal it on the Mountain #2

A little light relief from pink, then….

I’m really happy with the photos I’ve seen so far of the Ovarian Cancer team blocks for Go Teal it on the Mountain. (While I’m at it, shall we just shorten that to GTOM?) I’m not planning to show them till the blocks arrive, but I know some are on the way already, so you won’t have long to wait.

It was time to make a start on my own blocks. I like the crispness and accuracy of paper piecing, so that’s what I chose to start with.

A quick sketch of the idea, and then onto quilting graph paper. Designing a paper piecing pattern isn’t hard; the trick lies in deciding where the dividing lines between the sections need to go. One helpful point is that if you don’t make the block symmetrical, you won’t have a thousand seams all meeting in the same place, and your block will lie flatter. Anyway, I drew out the design, put in numbers to show assembly order and marks to ensure good alignment when the pieces are sewn together, and cut them out. Then I photocopied the pieces and added seam allowance around the outside. I always add more than ¼ inch, to allow me to trim out and to ensure the piece isn’t skimpy. You do need to remember that the finished design will be a mirror image of what you’ve drawn, since the fabric is stitched onto the back of your pieces. If you don’t want this, you have to trace all the lines and markings through onto the reverse, and make sure you work on the same side of each piece. It might help if you use a different colour on the reverse.

There are a thousand tutorials for assembling paper pieced blocks, so I won’t go there, except to say I like a dab of washable glue stick to hold the first piece in place rather than a pin, that I use an old, dull needle so I don’t spoil my good ones, and that tweezers are less dangerous than stitch rippers for fishing out those little elusive bits of paper in the corners 🙂

Here it is, assembled. The photo doesn’t give the true colour of the ‘sky’ so the contrast between it and the snow caps isn’t very clear. Three are darker and one is lighter than the sky. It’s the first of several different blocks – I have to wait and see how many I’m getting from the rest of the team, but I imagine I’ll be making at least three or four…

More soon.

ScrapHappy September

Welcome once again to ScrapHappy Day!

It’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

I’d hoped to have made a start on cutting the pale mulberry border strips for the pale rainbow scrappy quilt, but once again, life has got in the way. However, I have found something lovely to do with some of the scraps from the Colours of Happiness quilt. What do you think? It’s going to be a cushion cover to go with the quilt. I had a handful of strips left over from the chequer-board panels, and these four all had the yellow running through the centre, so they worked as a set. Not finished yet (I think it needs those green strips down the sides, and perhaps a bit of embellishment of some sort), but on the way. As with all the other photos of the fabrics for this quilt, this looks a bit washed out; the camera just doesn’t capture these colours completely.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen and Connie

See you again, same time next month!

Colours of Happiness 7

The piecing is finished. 

Here it is, all pinned up on my design wall, showing how the panels will be arranged. I just wanted to get a photo of it all in one piece before I take the whole lot down and start cutting backing and batting panels for everything.

It’s the usual rubbish indoor photo, not only because the lighting’s not ideal, but also because I suspect only in daylight will the camera come close to capturing these colours properly. They always look either washed out and lacking detail, or luridly radioactive, some stronger than others. In real life, the visual effect is rich and complex, and nothing shouts too much louder than everything else. So roll on the day when I can hang this beauty on the washing line, in the sun, and finally get a photo I like!

I won’t be able to show much progress on this for a while. I have quite a work list on the go right now, and I need to start concentrating on the final Ovarian Cancer Australia quilt for the time being. But I’ll be hand quilting this one in the background, and will show stuff from time to time. I’ll probably get the long panels and corners done first, as I’m still thinking about what happens in the centre.

Till then.