SAL 12: Kowhaiwhai third quarter progress

Well, here we are again. Doesn’t time fly when there isn’t enough of it?

Here’s where I was last time.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 5.32.24 pm

And here’s where I am now.

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 8.39.25 pmNot too bad really, despite my usual overload of other commitments, not least of which is having to do double time on the quilt because jury service, which starts tomorrow, is eating up all my stitching time. And before you ask, no, I can’t take any sewing into court with me! When the quilt activity got too much and I had to change position for a while, I picked this up, and consequently have made decent progress.

As often happens, I’m the first to post because my Sunday starts earliest. This time, we’re joined by Cathy – welcome! – a new member of the SAL. Give the others in later time zones a chance to wake up and publish their posts, and then do hop over and take a look at what they’re up to:

Avis at

Claire at

Gun at

Carole at

Alison at

Jule at

Elizabeth at

Wendy at

Lucy at

Cathy at

Jacqui at

Jess at


A brief interlude for cake

I do feel the world is a nicer place with cake in it. And I’m not that picky about what actually constitutes cake.

Today, I felt the need for something delicious to provide some oomph to my stitching. So I baked. It was a quick and easy one, and with metaphorical crumby face and sticky fingers, I can return to the quilt with a peaceful mind.

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 4.26.26 pmThe pantry was a bit bare of inspiration, but I’d had a large can of red plums sitting at the back for quite a while. I love plum crumble, but this is just as good.

Plum Frangipane Tart.

1 large can of plums in syrup
200g/7oz almond meal
200g/7oz butter, softened
200g/7oz caster sugar
2 large eggs
Good pinch of cinnamon
Enough pastry to line a 20cm/8″ loose base flan tin; I used about 300g/10oz

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 4.27.38 pm

Roll out the pastry, line the flan tin and bake blind for about 20 minutes at 180°C/350°F, or until the edges are golden. Beat together the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and blend in thoroughly. Add the almond meal and cinnamon and blend again. You could also mix some flaked almonds through the frangipane for textural interest. Pour this batter into the baked flan case.

Drain the plums, halve and de-stone. Arrange the halves cut side up on top of the frangipane batter. Tap the bottom of the flan tin gently on the bench to settle the slices. Bake in a 180°C/350°F oven for about 40-50 minutes, watching that the top doesn’t colour too quickly. If it does and the frangipane isn’t set yet, cover with a sheet of foil and finish baking. You’ll notice that mine is rather sunburned; I’m sharing my acquired knowledge here!

This is very delicious warm out of the oven with a dollop of cream (mine’s lactose free, and none the worse for that), but I reckon vanilla icecream would make it the food of the gods.

This would also work well with fresh or canned peaches, dried apricots plumped up with boiling water or cherries if you can be bothered to de-stone them, rhubarb, gooseberries, in fact anything a little tart in flavour…

Now, excuse me please, there’s a slice of tart calling my name.



Worldwide Friends: the fruits of frustration

My holiday’s loss is the quilt’s gain, the silver lining to the cloud.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 4.21.58 pmHere’s where I left it on Friday evening. Both sides have the hexie strips assembled, waiting to be attached. On the left side, I’d got halfway through stitching the strip on, edge to edge. That needed to be completed, the papers removed and then the inner free edge hemmed down onto the back of the quilt. Then the whole process needed to be repeated on the right side.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 4.24.39 pmHere’s where I got to today. The quilt has been flipped so I can work on the unfinished short side. On the right, the border is fully applied. On the left, it still needs to be stitched on. Two down, two to go.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 4.24.00 pm

At the bottom, the hexies for the right hand edge are waiting to be attached edge to edge, then hemmed down.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 4.22.59 pm

The left hand edge and the ‘mistake’ bottom edge

The quilt now has to be finished. I’ve put in the Show entry and paid the fee. I need to ring the Show steward and find out if there are any restrictions on the size or materials of the rod to be used for hanging. This is being entered as a wall hanging, and because it’s not a standard size, you have to provide your own rod.

We were going to have a guest on Friday evening, but that has been put off, so I now have additional time there. And with luck and a following wind, I may be excused some of my jury serving time, so I’ll regain those days.

The final day for handing in the quilt is June 18. I reckon I’ll just make it, so long as I keep on keeping on.

Finally, I promised to let you know if the Aspirin & Arnica cream works to reduce the pain in my hands. It does!  Also, it smells pleasantly of teatree oil, the texture is nice and light, with just a trace of grittiness (not sure if that’s arnica plant material or ground-up aspirin!), and I’ve made considerable inroads into the contents of the jar. Here are the details Ella Dee sent me – you can order the stuff from their Facebook page, or just ring them up.

I don’t suppose they’ll send outside Australia, and indeed, there are restrictions on sending things classed as medicinal in most countries, but I suppose it’s worth a try… They could always label the parcel ‘hand cream’!


There, and back again…

It’s getting a bit crazy round here.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 6.41.08 am

Cool, cloudy weather on the Atherton Tableland made for perfect motorbike riding temperatures

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 6.43.17 am

A great spot for smoko

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 6.42.31 am

Lantana and tree ferns

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 6.41.24 am

Morning Glory: what a colour!

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 6.41.51 am

Red stems and beautiful veining

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 6.52.26 am

Tomatoes are loving the rain

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 6.52.59 am

Rootlets on the cuttings

Firstly, we didn’t get away early on Friday as planned. This was due to a major scheduling stuff up at the Husband’s work. Instead of being home by midnight and leaving at 7am on Friday, he didn’t get home till 6am, and while I could drive the first leg and let him sleep if we’d been taking the car, this was a motorbike trip. So we reluctantly had to postpone and let the people we were meeting up there know we’d be a day late. The one small upside is that I was able to get a bit of stitching done, and I’ll post on that tomorrow.

It was a long trip up, and we were pretty tired at the end of our 10 hour journey, but it was great to be there. Sunday we got on with the scheduled swooping around the curly bends, looking at fabulous vistas, taking photos of scenery and plant life, eating lavish morning teas and tucking into lush curries in the evening. It was a good break, and good to be away, but the return trip came all too soon.

I didn’t have a good trip back. Three solid days on the back of a motorbike just got too much for the arthritic hip, and by the end of the journey we were stopping every hour so I could painfully unlock it. I’d run out of the quick acting painkillers, and a painful lesson has been learned. I can’t do a trip like that again unless I have them.

I’d let the coffee shop know we were going to be away, and that if they wanted an order of baked goods for this week, they needed to order by Thursday. Yup. You guessed it. They didn’t order till Friday, by which time we should have been on the road. It came too late in the day to buy some of the groceries I needed, so yesterday started at the crack of dawn, baking the things I had stock for, and then dashing out as soon as the supermarket opened. Still, it’s ready, even if I could have done with the day off…

On the upside, it rained here while we were away, and the tomatoes are making good progress. Something is giving the spinach a hard time, but everything else is pretty happy. The little mango tree is loving its new home, and next week, we’ll be planting the avocado next to it. And last but not least, the three Angel Trumpet cuttings I put in water last week are showing dozens of white rootlets, so I have great hopes of being able to pot them on soon.

Next week, on Monday, I start two weeks of jury service. I won’t necessarily be serving every day, but I have to be available, so I can’t plan anything for that time. The way it works is that you check online after 5.30 the day before, to see if you’ll be required the next day, so at least I’ll have some idea the night before.

I have a full schedule this morning, but this afternoon I should finally, finally be able to get back to Worldwide Friends… I have one short side halfway stitched on and the hexies for the other side are assembled and joined. Lots of ladder stitching and hemming to be done, o joy. Still, it’s good to see edges finished.

Right, must get on, I have a busy day ahead.

Worldwide Friends: hexies, holidays and hands

The first side is faced.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 7.04.41 pm

Proud of that tidy stitching!

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 7.05.00 pm It’s fiddly, but effective. I like the way it looks, and the way it allows the hexies to sing instead of imposing a straight edge. The two short sides will go more quickly – because they are short and because I don’t have to make and add in extra hexies to cover my mistake. The top edge will take a bit longer again.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 7.05.35 pm

Layout for the first short side. No stupid mistakes with the trimming this time!

I have one day left to work on it this week. On Friday, we’re heading north to Cairns for a long weekend of blissful motorbike riding, swooping around the dizzy bends of the Gillies range and over the heights of the Atherton Tableland. I’ll be posting about that, but I won’t be lugging the quilt with me! Instead, I will take some embroidery handwork, and you’ll see that in my next stitch along post on 31st May.

Next week I have to try and crack it. Starting 1st June I’m on jury service for 2 weeks, and while I may not need to serve every day, there’s no guarantee of being let off, and worse still, no guarantee that the case I’m allocated to will not run over time.

Thank you all for your sympathy for my poor toe, and the kind and helpful suggestions on how to deal with my painful arthritic hands, which are taking a punishing with all the hand stitching just now. Ella Dee has come up with Aspirin & Arnica cream, which is a topical anaesthetic and herbal rememedy, and is sending me some to try. If it works, I’ll let you all know, and where it can be ordered from if you’re in Australia.

Right, back to work.

Toeing the line

Today, I’m doing what I’m told, and loving it.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 10.19.21 am

That’s a much happier toe….

I had toenail surgery this morning, after months of trouble. After chemotherapy 3 years ago, my nailbeds were damaged and the nail didn’t grow straight, causing endless trouble. It wasn’t a fun experience, but after the initial shots of local anaesthetic, it was painless. And that should be that, hurrah!

It gives me the perfect excuse to stitch and not rabbit around doing other stuff. A nice cup of coffee, a slice of date loaf, and no standing or dashing around.

I’m under orders to sit down with my feet up. Oh dear…. it’s a hard life, isn’t it?

Worldwide Friends: Facing unpalateable facts…

Unpalateable fact No. 1: I am a total idiot sometimes.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.28.04 am

The problem…

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.28.30 am

…the solution

The facing for one side is assembled, and I’m about to begin applying it. I made a stupid, stupid, stupid mistake last night, and trimmed off excess quilt in the wrong place, which means I had to make and add extra hexies to the facing to hide the gap. I was tired, it was late and I cut before I thought. Note to self: never do anything terminal with scissors when you’re tired and not thinking straight. It looks OK, and I don’t have a problem with the bottom facing border being slightly deeper than the other sides on the back, which is just as well, or I’d be making a whole heap more hexies, which I surely don’t have time for.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.28.51 amToday, as it’s raining (hurrah, brilliant news!), is an indoor day and I hope to make significant sewing strides without being lured outside by the siren song of the garden. I just have to make a delivery to the coffee shop, and then I can crack on.

My hands are getting pretty bad now. I wake every morning to find them stiff and aching, and it takes a while to get them mobile. Opening jars is becoming virtually impossible. I think they’ll hold out till WWF is finished, though, and after that, the next quilt on the production line is fully machine pieced and quilted until I have to hem down the binding.

Anyone out there have any quick fixes for loosening up arthritic fingers? I’m not talking drugs or supplements, but something more immediate: hot water’s good, but only a short term solution…

Motto for today: measure twice, cut once….