Monday, November 28, 2011

Cookies, coughs and christmas

I really think I jinx it when I proclaim I'm going to do NaBloPoMo. Because something always comes up. If it's not an internet connection gone wrong, it's an earthquake, or in this month's case, whooping cough. Both my girls have it. But thankfully the worst of it is over now, and they can go back to school tomorrow.

On to quilty matters... here's Block #4, Cookies 4 Santa, designed by Kim Hanson.
It is appliqued cookies on a plate, decorated with buttons and stitching. That bright purple lacy flower was tatted by my late mother. It doesn't go with the rest of my colour scheme, but it seemed fitting to add it, alongside the little heart button (I have a couple more of these, so look out for them in future blocks).

To date, there have been 34 blocks published, of which I have completed 28.


We put up our christmas tree yesterday. Or rather, the girls did - I just had the fun job of rearranging and vacuuming the lounge so there would be a space for the tree. Not that it takes up much room - we decided last year to get a "fake" tree, which is barely taller than my 12-year-old. I really miss the lovely green pine needle aroma.

As it inevitably happens, some of the xmas lights didn't work. So I tipped out the carton that we keep the decorations in, hoping that we had some spare bulbs somewhere in there. There were none. But what we did find, amongst all the tinsel scraps and twice-used icicle strands, were the ghosts of christmases past: pine needles. Horrible dry ones, that hurt if you tread on them at just the wrong angle in bare feet. They must've stuck to some of the decorations as we undressed the tree from... let me think... 2009 or before. They no longer had an aroma, or even a smell. But they were still green, strangely enough.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Internet was out for a couple of days, then I had an unwell child to contend with. She's still unwell, but luckily sleeping for now, so I'm sneaking in a few words on this auspicious date.

Is auspicious the right word? In some context or other, I'm sure it is.
Sorry, late night ramblings. I just wanna go to bed.
I think I will.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

... and here's Block Three...

This Little Light of Mine, designed by Melissa Stramel, is Block #3 in the Celebrate Christmas Quilt-Along.

Here's mine...
The central blue fabric is hand-dyed calico.

 And a closer look at the embroidery...
When I first saw this block design, I immediately thought of The Little Match Girl.

Another block tomorrow. Yes, I really do mean it this time. I'm taking part in National Blog Posting Month - NaBloPoMo for short (see the box over on the right-hand side). I'm the 683rd person to sign up for it. I will endeavour to post every day for a month.
Starting... yesterday!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mittens, not exactly Santa-coloured

My version of block 2 of the Celebrate Christmas Quilt-Along:

Mitten quarters were foundation pieced. The quarter-square-triangles were supposed to be as well, but I nutted out how to rotary piece them instead.

It's called Santa's Mittens, and designed by Jennifer Rodriguez.

The original block had red and white where my blue and yellow are. Yellow is the closest I could get to white in my chosen palette. You might think it's unusual to make a xmas quilt and not have any white (snow! lovely snow!), but it's summer at that time of year here, hence the flowers instead. Besides, I hardly ever use white.

So far, 23 blocks have been published, of which I have completed 16.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Celebrate Christmas Quilt-along

Have you heard about the xmas QAL over at Quilting Gallery? Basically, it's 36 designers, contributing a block design each, stretched over 12 weeks (so we get 3 per week to do). With a xmas theme. Oh, and there's some "super deals for quilters" too, like 40% off certain fabric lines at certain stores, that sort of thing. Doesn't really apply to me 'cos it's all overseas, so any savings made would be negated by the killer shipping costs. :(

The three focus fabrics
I'm taking part, despite not having a giant stash of xmas fabrics. At first I thought I'll just use some reds and greens, and a bit of cream thrown in for contrast. But then I found in amongst my greens, some olivey flowery prints which I bought last year mainly because of the price and not because they were lovely fabrics. But there's enough (I hope!) to use as the background/focus fabric. All the accompanying prints and plains match -- I used the coloured spots on the selvedge to match them up. Close enough, anyway!
The fabric palette
The first block was designed by Pat Sloan, called Pat's Red and White. My version is sewn in slightly different colours...
Pat's Red and White --- Raw-edge applique for the basket in the centre, blanket stitched by hand (only because I feel I have more control over my hands than I do my machine).

At the time I write this, I am stitching Block 12. Fifteen blocks to date have been published. I'll show block 2 tomorrow.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cat quilt and a bag

My cat, like many others, likes to sit/lay/sleep on quilts. Which can be inconvenient, if you're in the middle of working on the quilt. So I decided to make my cat her very own quilt. It's not going to be very big - about 24" square - which will be about the right size for her to stretch out on if it's laid on the floor, or to fold/bend so she can hide under it.

So far, it's more or less just a prototype, so not made out of any fancy fabric. In fact, I've gone green and recycled, using old flannelette pajama fabric for most of it, in pinks and blues:
I've used 12 different prints/plains for the 3" squares. The border is 3" navy flannel.

The other side is going to be a bit more colourful. I'm still cutting patches out for that, so there's no pic yet.

Another project I'm working on is a quilting bag. It's supposed to be big enough to fit a quilt into, which is just what I need for an upcoming guild meeting this week. I'm going to take a quilt along for show-and-tell. Which will be fun to show it off, but at the same time not fun because I don't like public speaking. But I'll just have to get over myself and do it.

Anyway, the bag isn't finished yet, but the front and back stitching and quilting are done, so I took some progress pics:

Central panels, Chinese Coins-style, pieced from my scrap tubs. I designed this side myself.
Some of the blocks I designed myself; the others are from the original pattern, which is entitled "Patti's Quilting Bag" by Louise Audet, from Handmade magazine, vol. 26 no. 7.
One thing I've learned from this (and it's an important one) is:
Measure and mark quilting lines! Don't just trust yourself to eyeball it correctly. The bottom photo shows my wonky hand-quilting; the one above it has far more consistency in the spacing of the stitching lines. (Not necessarily the quilting stitches - I still have a long way to go, I know!)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The second half of the year

Yes, I'm still around.

And so is my cat:

One of her favourite places to snooze is right in front of my monitor. It's warm, and she's trying to tell me it's bedtime for both of us. Which it is. My cat does not lie.

What I've learned today...
is that I seem to get severe writer's block the longer I leave this. Naughty me.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Even though I've had a break from blogging, I haven't had a break from sewing. While watching TV coverage of the natural disasters occurring around the world, I was busy with a needle and thread. Various things have been worked upon...

This pic I took in February - the last "official" border on the Patchwork Posse round robin. I've actually added another border of my own devising since then. I'll show you that in a day or so.
Border of flowers, embroidered and appliqued

Pretty cool huh? Each flower centre is unique, and all made from leftovers of other fabrics used in the quilt.
Yellow flower on the left will have a button in the centre, after quilting.

What I've learned today:

It's not always a good idea to work on more than one project at the same time.

There is the above quilt, which I'm itching to get quilted (first have to get/make the backing). And there is also a quilt I began early last year, which my daughter was going to have to keep warm with last winter (i.e. June - August). Then, the goal was for xmas. Now, the goal is her birthday - which is in one month.

I'm trying, I really am. (In case you're wondering, I've yet to show any pics of it.)

It doesn't help that I've "misplaced" two blocks. Instead of wasting time looking, I've decided I'll make a couple of replacement blocks.

That's bound to make them turn up.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The first on the last

Well, my self-imposed hiatus is over.
I'm back.
Yes, I've been away. Not away away, just... away, as in not online. Much.

But now I've found my way back to my blog, and I intend to visit on a much more regular basis. It is too easy to just let things go. Bad habits are naughty.

So now it's time to start some good habits. I plan to post lots in April.
Unlike March - do you get my cryptic post title? If you do - yay for you! If you don't - I guess I can say goodbye to a career in cryptic crossword clue compiling. hahaha. ha.
(That hahaha-ing is slightly sarcastic, as I wouldn't mind having a job of creating crosswords - and getting paid for it.)

What I've learned today: How to search for files in Windows 7.
(I'm doing a computer course - the first session I attended finished less than an hour before our Feb 22 quake. So understandably, they've been out of action for a while. The classes have been back on as of this week.)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

22 Feb 2011

Yesterday, I was standing waiting to catch a bus home after a morning in town. I was feeling good about the computer course I'd just started, and I'd treated myself to a quilt magazine, which I was looking forward to reading. I was composing in my head a blog post about why I haven't posted lately - like how I was getting overload from having to write every single day (for NaBloPoMo), which is not easy for me as knowing I have to do something sucks all the fun out of it; or how I was getting so sick and tired of the way my computer shuts down and/or reboots itself at random times, whether I'm using it or not; or how I decided to take a break and just not use the darned thing for several days, which I thought I'd regret, but actually found rather liberating, despite the thought of all the unread emails piling up.

But just as my bus pulled up, the ground shook so bad I had to grab hold of the bus shelter to steady myself, and looked up at the two storey concrete wall beside me, wondering if I should get away from it, or just wait until this aftershock wore itself out, as so many had done already. Had I known what was happening in the centre of the city (9 km away), I would've been across the road in a shot.

But at the time, I assumed this was yet another aftershock from the 7.1 earthquake that hit us on September 4. We'd had hundreds thousands of those, and we hadn't felt a strong one in several weeks.

Long story short: the bus took me home (we live outside the city, in a satellite town), I collected my girls from school (now closed until at least Monday), and hubby arrived a few minutes later. We've been watching TV ever since, stunned at the devastation of so many familiar landmarks and historic buildings. But by far the worst of it is the fatalities - something we miraculously didn't see in September's quake. My heart goes out to those people, their families and friends.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

... and it's midnight.

Just been online shopping. Just grocery shopping, nothing exciting!
I had to get the order in before midnight.
No, the pumpkins don't change then... I would just miss out on delivery tomorrow.

I've decided to make tomorrow The Day that I catch up on emails and messages and replying to people. So if you're waiting to hear from me, tomorrow will be the day.
Today was just no good for anything.

What I've learned today:
If I need to get something done and I write it down, I'm more likely to do it. And if it's in a public place where the whole world can potentially see it, then it's gotta happen.
Or else.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The other day I put up a random grundle pic.

Here's another one.

I'll tell you about them one day soon.

What I learned today:
Missing library books eventually turn up.
Usually in a place you've already looked.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


First of all, a shout out to all my new blog followers - in fact, to everybody reading right now - Hello! Thank you for visiting my blog! Stay a while, have a cup of tea... okay, I'll have one too, if you insist...

Secondly, regarding the pink/yellow/blue options - I decided. (Hint: see photo.)

Thirdly: What did I learn today?
Only that if you're in a hurry to make 18 snowball blocks, then the quickest way is not to try to be frugal at the same time.

Let me explain. I was scrimping on fabric, so I had the brilliant idea of cutting the 2" squares (for the snowball corners) at 2.5" square instead. Then I could just slice them on the diagonal before sewing them on, and there'd be no waste afterwards.

In theory, it was a great idea. Because 36 two-and-a-half-inch-square blocks uses less fabric than 72 two-inch blocks. But in practice, while being doable, it was far from fast. With squares, you can match up the corners perfectly, and you know exactly where to cut. With triangles, the part you match up has already been cut off, so you have to do some careful measuring, lining up, and sewing.

But I learned all this the hard way, which is probably the best way, as I'm not likely to make the same mistake again.
I hope.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pink, yellow or blue?

The quilt so far

So I was playing around yesterday, auditioning which colour background to use on the next border in my Patchwork Posse round robin quilt. Just as a recap, here's a pic of the quilt so far:

The next border is made up of tall flowers. I couldn't decide which fabric to use as my background in this border - this one will be rather dominant, so I really don't want to get it wrong. I thought about making up some practice blocks, to trial several colours. But I'm too lazy - AND I don't like having spare blocks left over that won't be used.

Now, I wouldn't normally show this sort of thing; I usually prefer to display the finished product, and not the messy in-between stuff. But I've been reading a number of blogs lately that show the design steps people take, and why, and that made me realise I like these peeks into other people's thought processes. So I think it's important to share our ideas.

So what I did was, I laid the quilt top out on the floor and arranged around it some of the fabrics that I'd used in the quilt already (I'm not introducing any new colours into it this late in the game). Then I chose some other scraps in colours I thought would go, for the spacers between the flowers. Then some stems, and the flower heads. Yes - the flowers are white - each flower will be decorated with applique and/or embroidery. I used more scraps to show that in this wee exercise.

There is no sewing or cutting involved here; I'm just playing with folded fabric. Just to get a basic idea.

What do you think?

 -- Which colour do you prefer?

--  How do you "test run" an idea?

What I learned today:

You can use Paint to edit a photo.
(The program, not the art medium! Although the latter would work, just not in the same way. And there'd be a bit of mess to clean up afterwards.)

Simple, huh? I thought I needed some fancy photo-editing software; instead, I can just use the same thing that my kids use to draw scribble pictures.

I do realise that everybody else out in Blogland, and probably the world at large, knows this already, or better yet, actually has some fancy photo-editing software - but this is me, and after several years of feeling my brain turn to mush after having kids, I feel strangely empowered when I'm able to figure something out. And if I can help just one other person with these sometimes irrelevant things-that-I-learn-every-day, then I haven't wasted my time.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Oops, been too busy to blog today! So here's a random photo of a smiley Grundle.

Will write more tomorrow!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A no-sew day

I haven't done any sewing today.
I've thought about it, though.
I've gone down to my sewing room and looked around, thinking...
But no actual sewing.

It's now after 10 pm, and I am tired, so I'll just leave you with a pic of Tabitha, for the following reasons:
  1. It's a cute pic.
  2. I have nothing new.
  3. I have some older pics, of quilty things, but those will require an explanation, and, quite frankly, I've left it too late in the day to write anything intelligent.
  4. It feels like ages since I've shared a cat pic.
My current wallpaper
What I've learned today:
I really really need to tidy my sewing room!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Birds and butterflies

"Photo tomorrow, rain or shine."

That's what I said yesterday. What I didn't allow for was the wind. Waaay too blowy outside to get a nice natural-light pic of my quilt, so I had to resort to pinning it to the curtains in the living room.

Why did I pin it to the curtains? Because I wanted to take a front-on photo, rather than laying it on the floor and having it look like a trapezoid quilt. (If you know your maths, and you  have some experience of trying to take a decent photo of a quilt, then you'll know what I'm talking about.)
So anyway, the lighting wasn't the greatest, but at least it was natural light, which is way more real than that yellowish hue lightbulbs exude.
Newest border on left and right sides - crazy-patch blocks and crazy-patch applique butterflies. Good fun!

One little bird (if you don't count that chicken below it)

And I finally got around to finishing off the birds, which belong in the second round. Which was way back in November.

For the embroidering part, these are much like the butterflies, featuring blanket stitch and running stitch on the applique pieces, and beak, feet and plumey tail in backstitch.

Two little birds (again, minus the chicken)

I so love these birds! I drew them myself, working through a series of design developments, until I got it right.

(Hey, there could be a blog post in that - I still have all my roughs, AND, I have to post every day for a month - NaBloPoMo.)

What I learned today:  Pinning a quilt top to the curtains will make tiny little pin-sized holes in the curtains. These little tiny pin-sized holes look rather big when you first discover them, but that's only because the light from outside is shining through, showing them up. I bet I won't be able to tell tomorrow.

So, in the immortal words of Douglas Adams... Don't Panic.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stash building

I bought some fabric today. Yeah, a bit of stash-building. Lots of people talk about stash-busting - hey, there are whole books written on the subject - but my stash is hardly big enough to warrant a bust. Therefore I can, without guilt, build it up.

Now don't go getting excited, thinking I'm about to reveal many bolts of designer fabric. I don't go for quantity, I go for variety. So I end up with lots of little pieces. That's in order to have just the right shade of whatever I need at the time.

Exhibit A
Exhibit B
The orange is a remnant of polar fleece; the navy is a remnant of flannel; and the three prints are all from Moda, a half metre of each.

These are "scrap packs": the shop bundles up five coordinating offcuts, folds them to look pretty, wraps them in cellophane and then somebody like me comes along and spends a good 5-10 minutes trying to decide which pack I want the most.
I compromised at these three.

They'll all go in the wash tomorrow (except for the orange and navy), then I'll press and fold and put them away in their colour-coordinated piles on my fabric shelf.

In other news, I have just finished the crazy-patch border on my quilt; but I'll have to go outside to take a decent photo of it. Which means tomorrow, as it's now night time and very dark outside. I'm thinking of pinning it to the fence. Because sizewise, it's now beyond the stage of standing on a chair and aiming the camera down. 41" x 57".
Photo tomorrow, rain or shine.

What I learned today:
Hot cross buns, while great for breakfast, are not so great for later in the day if you're in the height of summer. The icing tends to run and sink into the buns, which also go kinda soft.
But they're still yummy for breakfast!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Layout possibilities

So here we have three photos of some quilt blocks that I made last year. I was playing around with the layout possibilities:
  • diagonal rainbow (top right)
  • diagonal stripes, with each colour standing out more due to the colour placement (top left)
  • random (bottom)
Hmmm, I still don't know which I like best.

What I learned today/in the last few minutes:
Taking a photo of a quilt layout, uploading it and viewing it on your monitor, as a smallish size, gives a great perspective.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Two down, two to go...

So these are the butterflies I was talking about in yesterday's post. Blanket stitch on the wings, running stitch on the body sections, and back stitch on the cute curly antennae.

And these are the other two. Each butterfly has a different colour body, which I've matched with embroidery floss for all the stitching on that particular butterfly.

Crazy patch blocks, to be sewn with the four butterflies, to make a crazily colourful border.

What I've learned today: Do the daily blog post earlier in the day. At 10:51 pm, as I write this, I'm too tired to think up wonderful prose.
Good night.

Monday, February 7, 2011

7th of February

Cat update: Tabitha's tail is no longer drooping. The vet medicine is doing the trick!

Weather update: It didn't snow today - no surprises there. But it wasn't hot, either. Cold and wet, not summer weather at all. Although it made a pleasant change to yesterday. And the plants are no longer drooping.

Round robin update: I feel I've done quite a bit today, with crazy-patching.

Yesterday's progress pic: two untrimmed blocks, another trimmed to 6.5", and showing the reverse side of another.

Back and front views: all that paper must come off, and it's so fiddly to get the little pieces out from under the stitching lines! These two blocks are for the butterfly wings, so I used my very small scraps in order for them to be wildly colourful.

Butterfly bodies, waiting to be stuck down and winged.

What I've learned today: Don't use very small scraps for crazy-patching, especially if you're stitching to a paper foundation. Smaller pieces to sew means two no-so-good things:

1.  The paper must come off, eventually, and all that stitching is going to impede progress.
2.  All that stitching, close together, creates bulk. Which will be hard to sew through. And I'm planning on doing (yet more) raw-edge hand applique. Yes, by hand. How crazy am I.

Which means I'd better find my thimble. That nice thick metal one.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The hottest day ever

It has been an unbelievably sweltering hot day. I honestly can not ever recall being hotter. The official temperature was 36 degrees C, with Timaru (which is closer to the South Pole than we are!) reaching 40. Ugh, I am so over summer. I'd gladly swap hemispheres for a week, even if it meant snowstorms. I don't mind snow. Right now, snow sounds rather attractive.

A Grundle, a thistle, and a tabby cat tail
 Did a bit more sewing of the crazy-patch blocks. I'm up to about 9 or 10. Took a progress pic, but haven't uploaded it yet. So I've found another random photo for today's post.

Today I learned that when doing foundation paper piecing, you need to adjust the stitch length shorter. And then make it a bit shorter than that. And use the thinnest paper you can - junk mail can finally come in handy for something!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The weather and the weekend

If I wasn't taking part in NaBloPoMo this month, I probably wouldn't do a blog post today. It's been muggy hot, so I haven't done much. Is that a good enough reason, I wonder - to blame it on the weather? Oh, and it's Saturday. So, the weather and the weekend.

And because it is the weekend, I have done a bit of sewing. For the next round robin border, I have to make 14 crazy-patch foundation blocks, 8 inches square. So far I've completed five. Except mine aren't all 8 inches, and they certainly aren't square. They end up being trimmed down to 6.5 inches, so I've taken a few liberties with the sizing, as in, they're probably more like 7 inches, kinda-squareish. Yeah, I hate wasting fabric. Why make something so much bigger, if you're just going to trim a big chunk of it off anyway?

There probably is a good reason; and I'm sure in due course I will find out what it is and add it to my store of knowledge.

No progress photos though; things are rather messy down in the sewing room.

Unfinished art quilt experiment from 2010: 4" squares of calico which I hand-dyed.

What I learned today (and/or yesterday) is that if you don't have a relevant photo to add to your blog post, just add something else, because the large majority of blog readers would like to look at something.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Rainbow x 2

Find me somebody who isn't amazed by the beauty of a double rainbow!

The part I like best is how the colours reverse in each subsequent arc.
CLOSE UP: Can you spot the 2nd rainbow in this pic?

Today I learned a bit about blog banners, and changing fonts. Hope to have a great new look soon!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tail droop and petrol prices

You know how when a cat is so pleased to see you, it sticks its tail straight up in the air? Well, my beautiful Tabitha doesn't just do that; she has a SuperTail, which bends right back, over her back, so that the tip of it can touch her on the head. Other times, when she does stick it straight up, the end curls over, so it looks like a furry candy cane. So cute!

But alas, it didn't do that this morning. I thought at first that it was because I was telling her off for waking me up during the night to watch her play chase-and-pounce. (It was only a lighthearted telling-off. I can never be mad at Tabitha for long!) But no, her tail just drooped during breakfast, and the end of it dragged on the floor when she walked.

And so I did what you do in these situations, and consulted an expert.

Google informed me of the various things it could be, and advised a visit to the vet. Long story short, she's now on Metacam; one dose a day for the next seven days. This afternoon her tail started to get some life back in it.

In Trivial News, today I filled the car up with petrol for the first time in a long time. Hubby recommended it, as he reckons fuel prices will skyrocket soon. As opposed to the slow but steady rise in price we've been seeing over the last few months. Today it costs $1 and 99.99 cents per litre. I don't know what that compares to for overseas prices; it would be interesting to see. (That is NZ$, in case you're wondering - which is currently worth, I think, about 75 US cents.)

Luckily for me, I had a voucher to get 10c off per litre. So I saved me a few dollars, and paid what I would've at full price several weeks ago.

Today I learned that bumblebees are attracted to the light. Turn it on, it will buzz on up to the ceiling, in an attempt to get up to the mini-sun. Turn it off, and it will immediately fall and land on whatever is below it.

This I discovered at 5 a.m. Guess how.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Another border!

Whoops, the day is almost over and I'm late doing the daily post.
It's been a very busy day here; the first day of school for the year for my kids. And h-o-t. 32 degrees C. (I have no idea what that is in F.) And very windy, too. Hot northerlies, the kind that get the laundry dry super-fast.

In quilt news, I've finished another border on the Patchwork Posse round robin. This one was designed by Beth from EvaPaige Quilt Designs. It was super-easy, and super-quick.

Problems arose, however, after I had finished piecing the first border, and was ready to attach it to the rest of the quilt top. I neglected to take notice of the part of the instructions that said to "measure your quilt". I had assumed mine was right. Well, the strip that I'd pieced measured what it should; it's just that the rest of my quilt was around 1 and 5/8 inches shorter.

Despair hit me. I hate unpicking seams and resewing. Even more than I hate pressing.

So I fiddled with the numbers, and counted the seams between blocks and sashing strips, and figured that if I resewed - without unpicking - each of these seams, but go in about 1 millimetre on each, then it should turn out about right. And about right is okay with me.

And it did work out all right; there was just a tiny bit of trimming (1/8") at each end, to make the new border measure what it should.

Yeah, and then I read that the most important thing is that the sashing strips nearest the edges should match up with the thin border strips on the previous round. They did... they just don't anymore. Well, the theme of the quilt is "whimsy", after all.

What I learned from this experience can be summed up very easily: read instructions, more than once, and measure things!
But it's perfectly fine to make mistakes; I believe it's the fastest way to learn.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mail call

Here we are, into February already. Gosh January whizzed by. So fast.
So now if I mean "a few days ago", I could actually just shorten it to "last month", and if it's more than just a "few" days, I'm covered.

So. Last month, I received some goodies in the mail. First, there's this cool Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks magazine, and a pattern for a Winding Ways quilt. I won these back in December, as part of the Patchwork Posse round robin adventure. Reeze from Morning Glory Designs sent them to me, all the way from the USA, yay! Thanks, Reeze! The quilt is her design, and she has a block featured in the magazine: #106 - Rising Star.

And I can't wait to begin the quilt, although I guess I'll have to start collecting fabrics first. I want to make it scrappy and colourful. But I'd better finish a few things before starting on anything else. Although there's no harm in having a small bin ready to receive ideal-sized scraps.

The other parcel I got in the mail was also something I won; this time on Trade Me, which is NZ's version of eBay. (Although I don't know why they say you "win" an auction; you still have to pay for it! Yippee, I won the right to spend money! Funny thing, online auctions.)

So, what I won/bought was an embroidery floss box, with over 70 threads, all wound onto bobbins and labelled. Not brand new, but I don't mind. I don't do cross stitch - and have no plans to ever try it - but these will come in mighty useful in the hand applique parts on quilts and suchlike. Lots of colours I didn't already have. Yay!


In Cat News, the flow of bumblebees has seemed to stop. I got somewhat tired of being woken up in the morning with the cat pouncing on the bed, playing with her latest prey. So I pulled out a couple of offending plants. Some people, I guess, would call this weeding.

First there was a thistle plant. It had grown huge. I was letting it grow, truth be told, because I wanted to do a dyeing experiement with the flowers. Beautiful pinky-purple, they were.

But alas, the bees loved the flowers, the cat loved the bees, and she didn't even mind/seem aware of the risk of being pricked or bitten. So out it came.

The bumbles were still hanging around though. On the other side of the house, right outside my bedroom window in fact, I have a lot of mint. It started off as a single mini-plant, but boy did it take off! And it flowers, and the bees come, and so the cat comes to see what all the buzzing is about.

I felt bad, pulling it out. And not just feeling bad as in I'm getting a sore back from all this bending over in the hot sun, but bad for the bees. Sure, I know there are other flowers, in other people's gardens, but I've heard that bees are on the decline. Which is not good for Planet Earth as a whole.


What I have learned from this is that the best way to pull out an overgrown thistle bush is to do it in parts. Get the secateurs, and cut it into manageable pieces. Then throw them in the bin. No, I don't mean the compost bin, I mean the rubbish bin. If that's wrong, in an eco-way, then I guess the Compost Police will be after me.
I'll let you know if they visit.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A post with no pics

My posting habits have worn a bit thin, so when I discovered NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), I pretty much signed up on the spot. Well, about three days later, truth be told, but that's fairly fast for me to do anything spontaneous.

What is it? Well, if you've heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)(of which I have partaken in the past), then it's easy to understand. With NaNoWriMo (ugh, that's a mouthful to type!), you write a 50,000 word novel in the course of a month (November). The difference with NaBloPoMo (agh, that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it?), the idea is to write a blog post every day for a month. Any month. Any calendar month, I should say.

So I aim to do it in February. They have writing prompts available, should they be needed. And I may just use one, if I find myself running out of crafty-quilty things to write about.

We'll see.

And what did I learn today?


No, no, not the whole language! But I did figure out a few things, like how to write the code for a blog button. Not that I actually have a blog button; but at least now I understand (basically) how it works. And that, in itself, is a good thing.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Butterflies and leaves

I know, it's been a while since my last post. The old pc was outta action for a while. Hubby spent the last few days of his summer holiday fixing and upgrading things. Hopefully all is well now.

The most recent border on my Patchwork Posse round robin quilt took rather longer than expected. I did enjoy doing it, however. There's something quite relaxing about hand-stitching, even if some days only saw me manage to get one leaf finished.

Holding down the quilt so it won't blow away
during the photo shoot.
Isn't she helpful?
In cat news, Tabitha has caught many more bumblebees. My bed is still the Chosen Place to bring them and play. But she has now discovered butterflies. I wasn't overly concerned when I first noticed her noticing the lovely flittering movement of a cabbage white. But a couple of days ago she brought inside a monarch butterfly. It managed to escape when she opened her mouth and let it out. Luckily I soon caught it, and let it out the window. Now I feel guilty for having swan plants, as they are a major attractant for the monarchs.

What I've learned from all this:
  1. Don't let the kids use my pc. They click on things they shouldn't. Grrr.
  2. Don't blame the kids for everything! It's not all their fault. Relax!
  3. Make more time for myself.
  4. Distract the cat.
  5. Relax.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bumblebees and bunting

For my latest effort in the Patchwork Posse round robin, I decided to challenge myself.

Bunting? No, just chain-piecing...
Apparently it wasn't enough of a challenge to sew 12 pinwheel blocks - a pattern which I'd not done before (hey, I'm still quite new at this, okay?). Instead of following the instructions and making each opposing arm of the pinwheel out of the same fabric, I decided to use a different fabric for each piece. That's 48 different fabrics. All out of colours that would tie in with the quilt's colour scheme, which is (I hope) country-ish. But all that wasn't so hard.

The tricky part was trying to match up each block to be colour-coordinated - because my orderly mind had decided that would be better than having a random scrappy look. Methinks my orderly mind needs to take a holiday once in a while, and let my lazy/creative mind take over, and things will get done a lot faster!

But not to worry; I'm happy with the end product. And my 11 y.o. enjoyed helping out by positioning the blocks for me. She has a good intuitive sense of colour.


Hubby decided to "help" too. Thank goodness I'd finished all the cutting by then, though!

... finished pinwheels, pre-trimming...
Perpetually fascinated by my rotary cutter, he decided (upon my mentioning that it was getting quite blunt) to sharpen it for me.
So he got out the knife-sharpening steel from the cutlery drawer.
He tried.
It looked sharp.
He cut paper with it.
He was pleased with himself.
I tried it on fabric. Just lightly, as I remembered how sharp it was when new. No good. Pressing harder, still no good. Firmer still, like when I last used it this afternoon.
"It's blunter than it was before!"
He was somewhat surprised. But not ready to be defeated, he got out his other blade sharpening thingy.
With the same result. But I was quick to reassure him:
"Don't worry, I'll buy a new blade tomorrow when I'm in town."
"Hmph. How much are they?"
"Ummm... aroud ten dollars I think."
... and blocks attached.
A bit later I came back into the room to find darling hubby with his knife sharpening stone. He must've gone hunting through the garage, because I don't remember having seen him use it lately.
And so he put the rotary cutter back together - which didn't take very long as he was getting pretty good at it by now - and tried it out on some more paper.
It's a good paper cutter.
But sadly, hopeless at cutting fabric.


In other news, my 11-month-old cat loves to chase bugs, flies and bees. Okay, she started out like a normal cat, by liking the look of birds. But she soon discovered that she couldn't catch them. She has much better luck with smaller critters. Like beetles, and moths. She just loves it if I have the porch light on at night; it's a veritable moth fest!

But Tabitha's favourite at the moment would have to be bumblebees. And as it's the height of summer here right now, there are a lot of bumblebees around. I can actually understand why she likes them. They have a cool deep buzzy noise, so she can hear them coming from a mile away; they sit and do their bumbly business in flowers which are usually around cat-height; and best of all, they buzz around s-l-o-w-l-y. Which gives poor Tabsy a very good chance of catching one.

Today, she caught one. She brought it inside, so she could have a proper play with it. She let it go just inside the door, but managed to re-catch it. Not willing to take the chance of losing it again, she trotted through the lounge, down the hallway, into my room and jumped up on the bed before opening her mouth and letting it out. I managed to catch it in a cup and take it outside; one whiff of the fresh air and it was off.

Within an hour, Tabitha was inside again with another victim in her mouth. Not wholly in her mouth; half of it was sticking out. Which is a really funny thing to see. A true Kodak moment. Now I had just been photographing my quilt-in-progress, so the camera was out; but by the time I'd turned it on and it was ready, she'd dropped the bee, which was now crawling around on the floor.

Long story short: it was soon safely out the door. And the cat had to find something else to do. Luckily for her, she hadn't had her fill of sleep for the day yet.


What I learned today was an efficient way to catch bumblebees. Get two cups/glasses/plastic containers, preferably see-through. Coax bee into one cup, using other cup to gently nudge it if necessary. When bee is safely ensconced in cup, put other cup over top, trapping bee, until you can safely give it its freedom in the open air.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Yeah, so I found the missing fabric. I went a-hunting through my Small Scraps Tub, and found some reasonably-sized scraps of said fabric.
UFO containing missing blue fabric

And then I remembered.

I had already used the two blue fat quarters, and the reasonably-sized scraps were all that were left. Aaaaggghhhh! I'm not upset that the fabric was used. I'm mad at myself for not even remembering!

What I learned today is that I need to keep my UFOs in plain sight, rather than hidden away in the Depths of Beyond in my sewing room.

Getting older is not all it's cracked up to be. With age comes wisdom? Not necessarily.