Mango and papaya

No, it’s not a gardening post.

The title refers to the colours in the lightweight linen fabric I recently bought, greatly reduced, from Spotlight. It was two separate pieces, each just a hair over a metre long. I just love the design, splashy and really bright in gorgeous acid fruity colours.

The Husband has missed out on a career as a fashion photographer… Not my best photo, but you get the idea.

I had a pattern I was wanting to try, Butterick B6024. I’d originally bought it for View B, with three-quarter length sleeves. I had some pretty blue and white lawn to make it in. I still plan to do that, but the pattern really demanded a short sleeved version for sunny days.  In theory, I shouldn’t have been able to squeeze this top out of the fabric I had, but I had a cunning plan. The design called for a neck binding cut on the bias, which really gobbles up fabric. I decided I could do without that, and made the neck binding from a blending acid green fat quarter, using this method. Not only did I get the rest of the top out of the fabric I had quite easily, I also have some scraps left over, the largest of which is 12×24 inches, as well as some bias strip. I’m wondering what I can make of them. Something to co-ordinate with the top maybe? Any suggestions?

I’m now thinking that this top is so comfortable, it would make a nice summer dress if I extended the length by 18in/46cm. That blue and white lawn is about 4 metres long, it’d do the job perfectly and leave me some quite large scraps for something else. I also have a large scale emerald green and white gingham which would work too, so long as I’m not too fussy about matching stuff up.

And finally, that orchid I mentioned the other day?  I’ve brought it out of the orchid house, and it’s now hanging outside the living room window, where I can enjoy it and keep an eye on it.

Tomorrow’s ScrapHappy Day, but after that, I’ll be getting back to the Hatbox Quilt.

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Silent, but not still

Me, that is.

I haven’t posted for a few days, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t done anything. It’s just that repeated posting about the same project with only small increments of change can cause reader-enjoyment fatigue, I think, unless there’s real, visible progress. Today, I thought there was something for you to look at 🙂

Although I do have progress to show on the Hatbox quilt, I’m going to break it up with some pretties from my back yard. There’s still beauty happening out there, despite the total absence of rain, the hot, dry winds and the unseasonal heat.

So, nearly two-thirds of the quilt joined up. One modest seam to do and it will be two-thirds. It’s going well and easily, and I don’t want to rush through it.

In the back yard, the three baby pineapples are growing. This one’s nearly twice the size it was last time I showed it two weeks ago.

The bananas are getting bigger and bigger, and I’m keeping an eye on them to make sure the fruit bats and possums don’t start paying them too much attention.

They have a ‘banana bag’ over them to protect them from animals and from getting too scorched by the sun.

And in the orchid house, this lovely is flowering. It has at least 10 more buds, so when more of them are out, I’ll show it again. So pretty…

Sadly, the grass is all brown and when Mouse does his daily zoomie up and down, he’s kicking up clouds of dust. The amaryllis, or hippeastrums, all bright scarlet, are flowering like it’s going out of fashion – which it may indeed be, if we don’t get some rain soon.

It’s a thing with plants, isn’t it?  If they’re stressed, they flower like crazy to get in one final try at reproducing themselves.

I think I may have to bring that orchid inside, out of the orchid house, so I can give it some personal attention and admiration. Flowers that pretty shouldn’t bloom unseen.

Right, back to the hand stitching. Before I know where I am, it’ll be time to bind!

The Gardens of Chiconia #53: Warming up

Not that it gets really cold here, you understand.

But the days are getting longer, the nights and early mornings are a little less cool, and all around the back yard things are bursting into flower. There are some in cooler colours, but the great majority are in warm shades of red, pink and orange. Not my planning, just what’s here, and I’m feeling the need to introduce some cooler colours. I love blues and lilacs, so I’m thinking I’ll intersperse the large quantities of red hippeastrums (not yet out, but in bud) with some agapanthus and find homes for solanum, plumbago, passionflower, a petrea vine, and another couple of brunfelsia bushes.

What’s bright and beautiful in your backyard right now?

The Gardens of Chiconia 52: Another kind of snow

There has been great excitement on the news.

Snow in Queensland! Down in the Granite Belt they’ve had snow on the high ground, in Stanthorpe. In case you were thinking I might be feeling the cold, let me reassure you that it’s nearly 1,200km /750 miles away and well below the Tropic of Capricorn. The nearest we’ve come to snow is this:

It’s called, variously, Snow on the Mountain, Snows of Kilimanjaro, Snowflake and various other chilly names. It flowers in early winter in warm climates, is deliciously honey scented and is better known as Euphorbia leucocephala. Pretty, but poisonous, and the sap is a strong irritant. Showing you our tropical ‘snow’ made me realise that there were plenty of other winter-flowering plants in the Gardens of Chiconia. They all seem to be on the hotter end of the colour spectrum; Nature thumbing her nose at the idea of winter, maybe.

In case you were wondering, I haven’t retouched any of these photos in any way. What you see is how bright they really are.

We’re off tomorrow morning bright and early, heading north to Cairns and the wet tropics of Far North Queensland. 25°C/77°F during the day, 21°C/70°F at night. Showers are only forecast for a couple of days… So, well, Miz Lizzie the caravan is stocked with sewing, movies, food, drink, cosy quilts, brand new cushy mattresses for our bunks and clothes for all eventualities of weather. I am determined to enjoy myself, and I hope the usual suspects are bracing themselves, as we plan to hit the chocolate, coffee, cheese, clotted cream, exotic fruit, curry, fish & chips, ice cream and pie outlets hard 🙂

As always, I will post Miz Lizzie Adventures as they occur. Tomorrow night we will be in Townsville, the next night in Cardwell (home of the epic mud crab sandwich), and the next night in Cairns. Although we could make Cairns in one day at a push, we’re not rushing things. This is a holiday, and it’s also Miz Lizzie’s shakedown trip after her recent restorative surgery. She’s looking good, and I’m confident all will be well.

So, I’ll see y’all soon.

Looking back, looking forward

It’s traditional, isn’t it?

We bloggers tend to do a retrospective post at the end of the year, summarising what we’ve made or achieved in the past year. I tend not to do this so much any more; it began to feel like I was being a bit boastful, or a bit competitive. I didn’t want to feel disappointed with myself because I hadn’t made as many quilts, or garments, or… (fill in creative sewing activity here) as Blogger X. We all have different amounts of time, motivation, energy, money, fabric or space, and we each make according to our resources. Last year, I posted about how many metres of thread I’d used. That seemed like a fun and different thing to do, and didn’t create any direct comparison benchmarks.

This year, I kept my thread reels again. I’m purposely not looking at last year’s sum-up to see how much I used in 2017. Suffice to say that in 2018 I used 5km (3.1 miles) of thread. Is that a lot? I don’t know, but it’s a nice round figure 🙂

I want to thank everyone who’s participated in making quilts to benefit Ovarian Cancer Australia, everyone who’s joined in with ScrapHappy to make something lovely or useful from unpromising scraps, and everyone who’s joined in the Footsquare Freestyle (F²F) block swap collective to help friends create a beautiful quilt in their chosen colours. I want to thank friends and family who have given me an opportunity, a challenge and great motivation to make them a thing of beauty and a quilt to love, made especially for them. Thank you for coming along on my travels in the caravan and on the motorbike, for enjoying my weird, rampant and bug-ridden garden, and for listening when I indulged in a good rant about issues that set me alight. Let’s do it all again this year! I especially want to thank the Husband for enabling my creative habits, enjoying what I write and taking the trouble to find out what on earth I’m talking about when I speak Quilt.

Have a great 2019, y’all. Be kind to each other, and share pretty things. See you soon in Chiconia. 

Hugs,

Mend it, fix it, froggit

So, the coral top is done.

I’m pleased with how it came out, but the process was not without hiccups. Isn’t that always the way? You have a simple job to do, and then the blind animosity of inanimate objects gets in the way. I’ve written about this before, but effectively it’s Murphy’s law, made personal. This time, it was the overlocker (serger). I serged one of the seams, cut the thread, turned the garment over and started on the other side. Nothing. No overlocking. 45 minutes and a 20 minute perusal of the manual later, I had thread 4 back in its correct path through the bottom looper arm. I love my needle-nosed tweezers…. Anyway, I got the job done, stitched down the seam allowance with a decorative stitch, pressed it, and it looks perfectly acceptable.

As I sat editing the above photo, I glanced up and saw the stems of my lemongrass clump (now 12 feet high) waving through the window. There were strange lumps on the stems…. Was this some dreaded new tropical pest? Nope. It was an army of frogs. Apparently, ‘army’ is the collective noun for frogs, although these little chaps, at barely half an inch long, are not terribly intimidating. It’s a battalion of our little tropical tree frogs, and why they’re hanging out in the hot sun instead of in the shade is beyond me. Click on the image to enlarge. There’s at least a dozen of them…

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…