Days Gone By: the gap is closed!

I’ve finished all the border cutting and piecing!

Now I have to stitch the seams joining all the border sections together: the top is done, but I have the side and bottom strips to put together, which is why it still looks a bit wonky. I’m really pleased that paying close attention when I was cutting and stitching has meant there are very few places where the seams don’t line up despite the widely varying fabrics used.

Once that’s done, I have to press the outer edge of the hexie section very well, remove the last of the papers, and pin it down onto the borders. Hand stitching the hexies down will take a fair time and requires a large flat surface to ensure that there’s no bubbling or buckling caused by the stitching.¬† I’ll also have to make a backing, which will, yes, also be scrappy but will be pulled from several sources, not just the DfG scraps. I need largish pieces or all the seams will make the quilting a bit arduous. I have a basket of pulled fabrics ready to go.

It’s so good to see real progress at last ūüôā

The Travels of Mouse: north to the sun #6

Well, it rained off and on all day yesterday. I can’t imagine what the Staff were thinking.

I mean, the point of the holiday was winter sunshine, so rain was very inconvenient and not well arranged. Still, we did manage some enjoyment. I got a few walkies in, although no big runs in a dog park on account of “not getting himself completely muddied up”. I was a Very Good Boy and held still while Mum got an ouchie out of my eye, which was all mucky. And as a reward, we went back to Vines and I got another puppaccino ‚Äď and it wasn’t even my birthday!

The Staff made a huge sacrifice and forced down some coffee and cake whilst we sat in the shade area outside, surrounded by enormous tropical stuff. It’s all leaves to me, but Mum made a big song and dance about the flowers, ooh, aaah. The little trickling fountain was nice, though, even if I wasn’t allowed to have a drink there…

I did a lot of snoozing. Dad stuck on some headphones and pawed at his black plank thing. Mum messed about with fabric and took me for walkies. And then the final outrage: she baked and there was None For Me. Apparently, she’d been inspired by the cake she had at Vines. She made cupcakes with pineapple and banana and chocolate chips. I offered to help lick the bowl and the spoons ‚Äď you know, the Mouse Pre-Wash Cycle ‚Äď but my helpful offer was refused. I also didn’t get any bits once they were baked. I just don’t understand… They had banana in them. Obviously they were for Me!

(Note from Mum: I had to make do with what I have in the caravan pantry: 2 cup self raising flour, 2 eggs, 1 small very ripe mashed banana, 1 cup dark brown sugar, 1 x 445g/15 or 16oz can crushed pineapple with the juice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips. Mix it all just enough so there’s no visible flour left, dollop into a well-greased muffin pan ‚Äď I use silicone in the caravan because you can roll it up to fit in a small space ‚Äď and bake for 20 minutes at 160¬įC/325¬įC)

Mum says she’s assembled the two rows of hexies she committed to at the start of the trip, and now just has to sew them onto the main piece. Whatever. It all sounds like blah blah blah to me. OK, that’s mean, but sewing is time she could have spent stroking me… Anyway, she’s bustling about now opening and closing lockers, which can only mean one thing.

We’re on the move again.

Unpicking the threads

I’ve been doing a LOT of hand stitching.

My Anemone quilt has been benefiting from the ‘stay at home’ order the government put out at the beginning of the week. This is how it looked before:

And this is how it looks now:

A bit of a difference, eh? It’s the other way up, of course, but you can see it’s a good bit bigger; two rows longer and another row wider. To give credit where it’s due, my friend Chippy stitched two of those big hexie flowers in, while we were on holiday together recently, but I’ve been industriously multiplying the blooms since then. For scale, each of those flowers is 65cm/10¬Ĺ inches across at the widest point, so it isn’t one of my itty-bitty hexie quilts, and shows off those feature fabrics beautifully. I’m going to see how an extra row on the width looks, and then I may stop. It’ll be a good lap size, and if it’s much larger I’ll be really dreading the hand quilting.

I love English Paper Piecing (EPP). I find it soothing, portable and ridiculously easy. The most boring part is picking out the basting to release the papers. Even the endless work of hand quilting is funner. Basting stitches that go in quickly and easily are reluctant to release from the paper and fabric. Please ask why I stitch the fabric to the paper instead of around the paper. The answer is that I get sharper edges and corners and the assembly is therefore easier. It helps to ensure you always stitch fabric to paper shape the same way, so you know exactly where to find the end and the knot to pull out. You end up with a pile of random, messy bits of thread that get everywhere. It’s my least favourite part of the process.

In the same way, I’ve found it hard to pick apart the vast quantity of coronavirus data that’s being hurled at us. What do those graphs and figures even mean? But today I found a really clear and informative explanation of what we’re looking at, what it means, and how the management strategies of different countries is working for them. Take a look if you’re interested. Or ignore it if you’re over the whole thing :-/

Meanwhile, I’ll carry on pick, pick, picking…

ScrapHappy October

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.

This month, I’ve been short of sewing time and low on energy to do it, thanks to a short, sharp kidney infection. After a third antibiotic was added to my daily cocktail, I’m on the mend. One thing I did find energy for was gentle hand stitching, something I could do even when feeling unwell and in pain.

A little background: As most of you know, I’m now sewing for Days for Girls. Last time I joined a group sewing session, I noticed they were throwing away perfectly good pieces of irregularly-shaped fabric about 3 x 2¬Ĺ inches. Gasp! The pieces were too small for anything needed for the DfG kits, but they shouted ‘hexies!’ at me. One of the ladies took away a shoebox of them, and brought it back full of neat and tidy square-ish pieces.

I supplied hexie papers ‚Äď I have about 2,000 of them stashed away in a drawer, all used many times before but still perfectly OK. And this is the result of my labours, and actually, only the start. These will be turned into a quilt top. I hope someone else will step up to machine quilt it, I don’t think I have it in me to hand quilt another one for the time being. It’ll get auctioned to raise funds for DfG, to buy more fabric, help with training materials and education and so on. Now that’s what I call a proper use of scraps.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything ‚Äď 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‚Äôd 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‚Äôt 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‚Äôll 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, Titti, Heléne, Eva, Sue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Karen,
Moira, Sandra, Linda, Chris, Nancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen and Connie

See you again, same time next month!

ScrapHappy February

Already! Time goes so fast…

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

Well, I’ve been working on several other and more urgent projects, so my progress on the Anemone scrappy quilt hasn’t been so very impressive. I’ve been stitching assembled¬†hexie flowers into an ever-increasing piece.

The worst thing is that my lovely camera has decide to go on strike and I simply cannot get it to take a photo with auto focus switched on so that images are crisp. It’ll have to go into hospital tomorrow, where hopefully a nice man will twiddle a couple of switches and tell me “You had the bftrglsgl operating at ISO 3 million and the aperture at 700, and you didn’t stand on one leg while pressing the shutter button in halfway, so of course it wouldn’t focus”. And I shall feel like a fool and accept his scorn and the fix¬†gratefully… because truthfully, I should inform myself better about this camera’s amazing abilities. But all I want it to do is take a decent, in-focus image with minimum fuss. And up to now, it has obliged me.

Here’s¬†where I’ve got to (not too hideous, mostly in-focus photo taken with my phone instead…):


And this is how it looked before, so progress hasn’t been too shabby. Yes, I do know it’s upside down compared with how I showed it before, but I find I now prefer it this way ūüôā ¬†I shall also refrain from making and showing new hexie flowers till all the ones I have are sewn in. It’s getting too confusing trying to work out which ones are new, and which you’ve seen before!

anemone-start-of-assemblyScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps ‚Äď no new fabrics. It can be a random or formal quilt block, a pillow or pincushion, a bag or hat, a collage or rag rug.¬†Anything¬†made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you‚Äôd like to turn them into some-thing beautiful 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 shown on my¬†Contact Me¬†page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact¬†Gun via her blog¬†to join. You don‚Äôt have to worry about 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‚Äôll have something to show, so we can add your link.

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):

Usually has a scrappy post:

Gun at (in Swedish and English)

Titti at (in Swedish only)

Heléne at (in Swedish only)

Sometimes has a scrappy post:

Eva at (in Swedish only)

Sue at (in English only)

Nanette at (in English only)

Lynn at (in English only)

Norma at (in English only)

Lynda at: (in English only)

Birthe: (in Norwegian only)

Turid: (in English and Norwegian)

Susan: (in English only)

Cathy: (in English only)

Debbierose: (in English only)

Tracy: (in English only)

Jill: (in English only)

Claire: (in English only)

Jan: (in English only)

Karen: (in English only)

Deb: (in English only)

See you again, same time next month!



Big Hexies!

It was time for several ideas to come together.

I needed a new scrappy project. I needed a handwork project. I needed… something different. And here it is.¬†Those who’ve followed me for a while know that I love hexies and the peaceful hand stitching that goes with them. As well as the weeny scraps I chewed up making the Grey Nomad quilt, I’ve got a good range of larger ones. So I dug a bunch of them out, using bright and muted prints in a variety of sizes. I paired all of these with black for the flower centres, and a white with medium black spot for the intervening spaces. A substantial bunch of scraps¬†went on our camping trip with us, and a substantial bunch of hexie flowers came back, but since then, the quantity has exploded because I’m enjoying this new project so much!


The papers are 2 inches to a side, so the flowers are a good size and the stack¬†is growing fast. I also love that the size of each hexie lets me feature the fabrics beautifully. Each flower takes one piece of black and then a scrap rectangle 10 x 14 inches, cut into 6 equal pieces. In some, I’ve mixed up the fabrics, in others, kept each petal the same. For each hexie, I cut a piece 4.5 x 5 inches, and then simply fold and stitch it around the paper, rather than cutting it to shape. Whether I trim it out afterwards depends on the weight of the fabric. For lawn or voile, I don’t bother. For heavier weights, I will. This process has worked very well for me on all the hexie quilts I’ve done before, and saves a huge amount of time, since I can whack out all the pieces very quickly with a ruler and¬†rotary cutter.

This is just a taster; already I actually have twice the number you see here, but you’ll have to wait for ScrapHappy day on 15th of the month to see more ūüôā

On the road again, part 3

It’s sad, but true. We’re homeward bound.

No, I’m not going to inflict another ear worm on you all by adding the Simon & Garfunkel video, it’s bad enough I have the sound track playing in my own head.

Here’s our camp setup, complete with yours truly slobbing about with feet up and laptop in play. You can blame the Husband for this one ‚Äď I didn’t authorise an official portrait… You can see how dull the weather is compared with the previous couple of days. On the upside, it was much easier to sleep at night!


As the day¬†was wet and cool, we were trussed up in our wet weather gear most of the time, all hi-vis and reflective bits. And hot! It had rained overnight and there were¬†some distinctly damp patches in the tent, but no disasters. As a result of the poor weather, the things we had planned to do were put aside for another visit ‚Äď no point going somewhere with a magnificent view if all you can see is thick grey cloud! We did manage to catch up with Ben, a fellow ST1300 owner, who works at Mareeba airfield as an aircraft mechanic.

But for me, the highlight of the day was a visit to Mungalli Creek Dairy, a biodynamic dairy which produces lightly pasteurised, non-homogenised milk, cream and yoghurt, some of which is also lactose free, hurray! They have a caf√©, and as well as serving a mean Devonshire tea and a flourless chocolate cake with massive dollops of Jersey clotted cream, the caf√© has viewing windows into the dairy itself, where you can see cheese and yoghurt being made and packaged. The Jersey herd is grazed on biodynamic pasture, and the cows are treated homeopathically for any problems. All I can say is, the happiness of the herd is quite apparent in the quality of the product…¬†We did also indulge in a bit lots of wiggly-road riding, of course.

So now we’re on our way home. Tonight we won’t be camping, as it’s a one night stop, which means the trailer stays packed and only the bike panniers need to be excavated for a stay in a cabin or motel room. For now, the plan is to stop in Townsville again unless my back¬†holds out well, in which case, we might try to get a bit further on and get home sooner on day 2.

One souvenir of the visit: lots of hexies! ¬†I didn’t even open my Kindle or listen to the radio, so if the world has come to an end while I was away, it’ll have to wait till I get home. But of course, there will always be handwork… These are big hexies, 2 inches to a side, so whatever this is going to be will happen quite quickly. I’m going to make the flowers and then decide how it all needs to be joined together. Maybe more black, with brightly coloured single hexies in the centre.


Signing off for the rest of the trip. It’s not going to be very interesting to read about, and I hope to have some interesting squishies to investigate and share once I get home; I’ll keep you posted.

See you in 1080km/671 miles.

The other sort of travel kit

In just over 3 weeks, we’ll be hitting the road north.

The Husband and I, Miss Scarlett and her trailer are off on a camping trip. We’re heading first for Townsville for a couple of days and then for Atherton, up on the cool tablelands above Cairns, in Far North Queensland. Into our newly refurbished motorbike trailer will go tent, camp bed, chairs, lamps, basic cooking equipment and food, bedding, water, fuel and other bulky necessities. Clothes and personal kit will go in the bike panniers, top box and tank pack. It’ll be warm, so warm clothes aren’t needed, but we’ll definitely have the waterproofs along, given that it’s spring and we’re coming into the Wet.

Somewhere in that lot, I’m going to need some sewing. What¬†‚Ästyou thought I could go on holiday without sewing? Some mistake, surely…

Clearly, it will be hand sewing, and given that we’re camping I can’t pack my super-duper LED magnifying lamp, so the embroidery’s out. So yes, you guessed it, time for hexies once more. BIG hexies.

big-hexiekitI have a pack of large hexie papers, and a lot of lovely large pieces of scrap left over from the Hatbox Quilt blocks, and some of these will fit in with what I have in mind. I’ll need lots of 5 inch squares of my floral¬†prints, mid to pale colour palette, and at various scales. The hexie flowers will have a dark¬†centre, either navy or black. Some will have all the same petals, others will vary. At night, when accuracy will be hard, I can assemble hexies. During the day (assuming I get any down time off the bike!) I can stitch the hexies into flowers. I’ll stop short of trying to sew flowers together; I need to keep the kit small and manageable, given how much space is available.

I’ve no idea yet what these will be for, but I’m sure there’s a hexie quilt of some description in my future.

Make do and mend

Something happened to my favourite pair of ripped jeans. ūüė¶

Overnight, they developed pale blotchy brown stains splattered all over the legs. I have no idea what it is. And it won’t wash out, I’ve tried everything. I think it’s something plant-based from out in the back yard, perhaps dating from a rather vigorous pruning session. Rips I live with happily, it’s part of the ‘worn-and-loved-to-death’ look, but these stains just looked, well, dirty.

So instead of throwing out a perfectly good pair of jeans I love, I resolved to patch them. It’s the way I was brought up, by a mother who raised 4 small children, my older siblings, during¬†WWII. ‘Make Do and Mend’ is deeply ingrained in my psyche as a way of life, in all sorts of ways.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 10.29.35 pm

According to the British Museum website: “Make Do and Mend was a pamphlet issued by the British Ministry of Information in the midst of WWII. It was intended to provide housewives with useful tips on how to be both frugal and stylish in times of harsh rationing. With its thrifty design ideas and advice on reusing old clothing, the pamphlet was an indispensable guide for households. Readers were advised to create pretty ‚Äėdecorative patches‚Äô to cover holes in warn garments*; unpick old jumpers to re-knit chic alternatives; turn men‚Äôs clothes into women‚Äôs; as well as darn, alter and protect against the ‚Äėmoth menace‚Äô. An updated version of the book was recently released to coincide with the economic recession, offering similar frugal advice for 21st century families.” (My italics).
©The British Library

Some of the stains were very small. Others were bigger. I tried ‘pretty decorative patches‘ in nice fabrics. It looked…. meh. And then I thought: Where does it say patches have to be square?

You know what’s coming, don’t you? ¬†What’s my perennial go-to patch(work)? ¬†Yup. The hexie.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 10.06.36 pm

Bye bye, brown blotches. Hello, happy hexies!

I may or may not do a bit of random embroidery on them too. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

I’m Hexcited to announce yet another scrap project completed!

ScrapHappy July

It’s been a busy few days, and I¬†missed yesterday’s deadline by just an hour or so.

As I posted yesterday, ¬†awhile ago, Gun from Rutigt and I agreed that we’d each post a scrappy block on the 15th of the month, the aim to be not only to eat up our scraps, but also to¬†be a regular reminder that scrap-eating had to happen regularly if we are both not to be eventually overwhelmed by our tiny treasures. The block can be any size, shape, colour or design.¬†And here is mine. Finally…


It’s very random, not much of a colour theme happening. I just reached into a box of hexies, grabbed a handful and worked out where they would go. I concede that I’m cheating a little. The¬†individual¬†hexies used in this block have been sitting around a while – since before Worldwide Friends, to be exact. But they are all made from scraps, and making a block from them does use scraps up, so I think you’d have to be a bit of a purist to object!

And as you know by now, I ran out of time ‚Äď it’s the time of year when I have my annual ‘has the cancer come back?’ checkup, and the amount of sitting around in waiting-rooms I’ve had to do in the last few days is phenomenal. And it’s not over yet, there’s another one next week… So, whole hours I could have spent concocting something lavish have instead been spent reading waiting-room magazines and playing sudoku on my phone. Frustrating… particularly when I realised I hadn’t brought any hand work!

Yesterday’s baking session also went totally pear-shaped. I was melting chocolate in the microwave, carefully, 30 seconds at a time, but still managed to not just burn it, but have it virtually catch alight, cracking the bowl I was using in the process and filling the kitchen with acrid smoke. That was the crowning moment, but the rest of it wasn’t exactly glorious, either.

So, I’ll see you again next month with another scrappy block. If you want to join us, let either me or Gun know, and we’ll link to your blog in ours, as shown below.

ScrapHappy July:
Gun at Rutigt
Kate at talltalesfromchiconia
Sue at From the Magpie’s Nest