Birthday and Christmas, rolled into one!

I love it when I hear the postman stopping at the mailbox at the end of our drive.

It means there’s something there. Mostly, of course, it’s bills, or junk mail, or for the Husband. More recently, though, it’s been for ME!  Here’s what came this morning.

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 10.00.02 am Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 10.00.21 am Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 10.00.36 amThe kind and incredibly talented Cath from Wombat Quilts has send me the most beautiful cushion cover, done in gorgeous Essex linen and Liberty prints. I saw it when she posted it on her blog, here, and fell deeply in love with it. And now it’s MINE! She has also sent a generous pile of indigo and red scraps and larger pieces for Worldwide Friends, which is just what I need to give a bit of pizzazz to the top strip of the front. Cath really has the most enviable stash, and I’m very, very grateful to be the beneficiary of it!

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 10.24.50 am Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 10.25.05 am Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 10.25.19 am Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 10.25.37 amThe other bit of glory I received was this, an exquisite little sketchbook from Anne Lawson, a Melbourne-based artist who specialises in botanical illustration. Her feather illustrations are also remarkable, and I’ve acquired a couple of them! The sketchbook is made up of odds and ends from her own sketchbooks, with scribbled notes, sketches and little nature studies on many of the pieces. I’m greatly looking forward to trying to do justice to it with some calligraphy and maybe some sketches of my own.

Do go over to her blog and take a look at her beautiful work – she has an Etsy shop as well, which is well worth browsing in for more of her wonderful detailed and delicate drawings and paintings.

Please remember that the works depicted in these images are © Anne Lawson and you should contact her for permission to copy, Pin or use them in any way.

Surrounded by all this loveliness, I’m once again feeling excited and motivated to carry on. I’ll have a Worldwide Friends post ready soon.


Worldwide Friends: another corner

I have not been entirely idle over Christmas.

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The top left corner is now assembled and ready to add to the centrepiece. And another corner is ready to start piecing together. So now we can see just how wide this fun quilt is going to be. A massive 76″!  I have yet to determine how long it will be, but it’ll be a bit more than the width, simply because of the way the hexies fit together.

Screen shot 2014-12-30 at 9.48.04 PMScreen shot 2014-12-30 at 9.48.45 PMMy thinking about the back has changed a bit, too. Originally I was going to go for a plain red back. Then the fabrics started flocking in thick and fast, too many for the front alone, and the haiku and a tanka made their appearance. The back is going to feature these poems, plus many more hexies, and I’ve decided that the quilt will have a hexie border rather than a straight edge, so round the edge hexies will be pieced back to back, making a frame on the reverse too. That’s this week’s thinking, anyway. As always, it’s subject to change if I come up with a better idea!

The more I consider the quilting, the more drawn I am to a sashiko design. It’s in keeping with the origins of the fabrics, it’s simple and it would work on both sides of the quilt. I doubt if I’ll actually do it in white sashiko thread, since I don’t want it to stand  out so strongly against the dark background, and the thread is quite thick and hard to work with on these tightly woven quilting fabrics. Also, the scale will be fairly large, so I’ll finish the quilting some time this millennium!

The Husband wants me to submit this quilt to the Mackay Show in July. Should be ready by then, so long as I don’t change my mind too often! The only thing I had some concern about is how to hang the thing – I want it to be double sided, and a hanging pocket would spoil the look of the back. However, the Husband has come up with a truly brilliant idea for dealing with this, which is to embed a hanging pocket between the front and back layers of the quilt, inside the quilt itself. The channel would be held in place within the quilt by the quilting. The outer edges of the channel would be stitched to the edges of the outer hexies, and you’d just thread the pole through the edge of the quilt itself. Am I not fortunate in my Husband? Not only enthusiastic about my quilting, but also providing intelligent solutions when required!

Screen shot 2014-12-29 at 12.25.54 PMFinally, in the mail today I received more lovely fabric, this time from Kirsten, who blogs at The Pink Rose Bakery, and produces all kinds of gluten free fabulousness – go and take a look. It’s going to be great to have more red to increase the variety, and I can always use indigo to darken hexie flowers which would otherwise be a bit on the light side. I love the Christmas card, too!

What’s on your To Do list for 2015? 

Worldwide Friends: unpicking time…

The piecing on the centrepiece is finished.

Screen shot 2014-12-16 at 6.22.15 PMThe nice thing about this appliqué is that the edges are already turned under and crisp, so all I needed to do was keep my stitches suitably tiny and hopefully invisible. It’s also nice to be able to get rid of all the pins, which seemed to be magnetically attracted to my hands by the pointy end…

Screen shot 2014-12-16 at 6.22.36 PMNow I need to press it very carefully, and then I have some happy hours to spend removing paper templates and thread so I can start turning out more flowers and fillers. I’ve almost finished my existing stock of several hundred, mainly because I have a large pile of mostly black hexies sitting in a box waiting for me to decide to do something with them. I will at some stage, but meanwhile they’re using up my stock of papers…

My pile of Friendship Fabrics is growing, and I’ll have to work fast to keep up!

You’ve got mail!

The postlady brought me two exciting bits of mail yesterday.

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Aren’t they gorgeous? That waterlily one is densely pleated, like Fortuny fabric. And accompanied by a lovely card she designed herself.

The first is a contribution to Worldwide Friends from the extremely kind Lynn at Tialys, some beautiful cottons in indigo and white and a piece of silk “which asked to go in the envelope with the rest”. Such lovely fabrics, and I shall definitely be able to use them, as well as the haiku she wrote for me to go on the back (see the comments on Worldwide Friends).

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The smiling Miss Sheila

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… and she certainly is BIG

The second exciting piece of mail is my “I love Sheila, my Big Fat Pig” T-shirt. These T-shirts are fund raisers, created by Cecilia at The Kitchens Garden to raise money to buy healthy feed for her heritage breed Hereford sow, the lovely Sheila, a porcine goddess of epic size, personality and charm. I am honoured to wear her photo on my chest…. If you get a chance, hop over and look at Celi’s blog, which is crammed with beautiful photography, recipes, wisdom and tales of life on a small farm. Sheila is only one of a whole array of wonderful furred, hooved and feathered beasts who live useful, contented and well-cared-for lives under Celi’s care.

I’m making good progress with assembling the frame and centrepiece for Worldwide Friends, but too many photos of the same thing is boring, so you’ll just have to wait a bit until the frame is finished and I’m ready to appliqué it down onto the rabbit furoshiki.

Right, back to the needle.

Worldwide Friends: Fillin’ time

I’d intended to do a photographic post today.

Mackay is looking spectacularly gorgeous on this second day of summer, with all the flowering trees doing their stuff. But events conspired, jobs took twice their allocated time, and a visitor who should have been here 10 minutes stayed 45. So it will have to wait a few more days until the schedule permits.

Finally, I have some quiet time. The Husband is snoring gently in preparation for night shift, the solar panels are paying for the airconditioning to be on, and I don’t have to get to work in the kitchen for several hours yet.

Screen shot 2014-12-02 at 2.27.53 PMSo, obviously, I’m working on Worldwide Friends, and today I’m working on the fillers. You know what I mean, the hexies that sit between the flowers, giving the eye a rest from unrelieved dark indigo flowers. That’s not to say the fillers aren’t also indigo, they are, but they contain lighter areas to throw the flowers into contrast.Most of the ‘holes’ in the above layout are waiting for fillers. And I need loads of them.

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Detail of the centrepiece, a delightful furoshiki or cloth gift wrap from Japan featuring gambolling hares. The lettering will be embroidered, the paper squares just show positioning.

I’ve put the cart well ahead of the horse with this project – the design wall is already in play. I have only about 10-15% of the hexie flowers I need, but I’ve been unable to resist starting a layout, instead of waiting till I had a respectable pile of flowers. Unlike other hexie projects I’ve worked on, this quilt has a centrepiece, and I need to ensure that the layout of the flowers works with the elements on the centrepiece, a lovely furoshiki brought back from Japan for me by Carla at Granny Maud’s Girl.  The layout shown here is only about 25″ (70cm) across. This is going to be a big quilt, and it’s clear I have a long way to go, but once the fiddly stuff in the middle is sorted out, I’ll just carry on adding chunks of hexie flowers.

To everyone who has already promised some indigo scraps: Thank you!  It adds so much to the interest and excitement of making this quilt to know that there will be little suprises arriving from time to time with bits of indigo fabric to add into the quilt.

Right, back to the needle and thread.

Indigo… and back again

It’s been a bit of a rough week.

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Lovely colours and designs… The Japanese have a genius for prints.

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I didn’t have any good lighting with me. The blues look too green, and the red’s washed out, but you get the idea….

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There’s 8 flowers in this shot, but I’ve now got 12 finished to add to the 6 at home. And loads more hexies to go…

Nothing turned out quite as planned, but the surgery is over, was successful and I’m on the mend, if rather spectacularly bruised. Luckily the Bride of Frankenstein appearance will settle down and disappear… The travel sewing kit was invaluable; I have churned out more hexies than I thought possible. The cut pieces I took with me were used up by the third day. I bought two more quarter yards of beautiful indigo fabrics in the quilt shop in the small country town where my sister lives, and where I have been recuperating. Already one of the three additional fat quarters I brought with me is used up, and all the red is gone.

I think that on this trip it wasn’t so much that making hexies is compulsive (which it is!) but that the small movements needed for stitching them together don’t hurt me, it doesn’t require my anaesthetic-addled brain to concentrate too much, and if I fall asleep unexpectedly it’s not a drama, unlike using a sewing machine!

While in hospital my little sewing kit attracted the attention of two keen-quilter nurses, who took time out to chat, admire, ask about the tutorial for it and talk about this blog. Two more new friends, courtesy of my quilting habit…

Slowly, the way this quilt is going to look is evolving in my mind as I stitch. Of course, what I envisage may not work quite as I hope, but it’s a direction, a start. It’s not going to be a particularly traditional use of hexies, but I hope it will look good. In any case, there’s no hurry. This one isn’t due for any anniversaries, trips or birthdays. It’s busywork for idle hands. If the MRI scans are anything to go by, there will be a little needlework for my orthopaedic surgeon too, some time in the foreseeable future too, so I can hope for more sewing time, o joy. Luckily I wouldn’t have to travel so far for this one…

The Husband has arrived after his long dash south. It’s lovely to have him around again; this is the longest time we’ve been separated since we were married, and neither of us has enjoyed it much. I miss my garden, my own bed and my breezy tropical house. It’s been very hot here, which is a bit trying when you’re postoperative. Never mind, I’ll be home soon, and we have the pleasure of two blogging friends to visit along the way.

Now, how much quilt can I get out of this lot and the six flowers I have at home…?