Saturday, 28 February 2015

Where did February go?

Well, February is over and we're into March. The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler. We're still having some lovely warm days though.

What did I get up to in February?  Here's a few highlights:

1. Government House tea party on Waitangi Day 

My husband and I (do I sound like the Queen?) were lucky enough to attend a garden party at Government House on our national day, Waitangi Day. It was a special party because New Zealand is now 175 years old - yes, that's all.

There were 3,000 people at the garden party. We've both been inside Government House previously, so were quite content to stand on the lawn, drink and eat, and listen to the music and speeches. The NZ Army Band played a wide range of music, and as a special surprise Sol 3 Mio sang some songs. They are three young up and coming New Zealand / Samoan opera singers who are very talented.

Just to prove I was there

2. Stonestead Outdoor Quilt Festival

That same weekend we went to the Stonestead Outdoor Quilt Festival. I decided to get brave this year and entered two quilt in the festival.  When we got there I realised that although mine were colourful, they were very small in the great outdoors. I made a mental note to enter bigger quilts if I enter again next year.

My Trellis Crossroads being dwarfed by my friend Alice's Arizona quilt

My Radiant Poppies next to an amazing Catherdral Window quilt

That Dear Jane quilt was amazing - so much work

3. Finishes

I finished my Halloween and Kaffe Christmas tree minis during February. I don't like doing things under time pressure, so I enjoyed finishing them in a relaxed mood in February.

I also completed my border on Serena's Possum Magic quilt.  I'll do a separate post on that next week. You can see all of the Possum Magic quilts on the tab at the top of my blog.

4. Progress

I've started hand quilting my mini medallion quilt. It's the third thing on my Finish Along list for quarter 1, so I hope I can finish it in March.  I plan on using a range of quilting methods and threads on this quilt. I think that's becoming my style.

I've kept up to date with the Women of the Bible quilt - see previous post. For those who have asked, the shop is naming each block after a woman from the Bible, and providing a small reading about her with each pattern. Some of us just gloss right over that, but others enjoy reading about the women.

5. New starts

This section should really be empty, but there were a few new starts in February.

Firstly, my crotchet ripple blanket. I started this blanket when I was sick at the start of the month. You probably know what it's like - too many things on the "to do" list to just do nothing for a few days, so I started the blanket early. The Down Under Australia crotchet along starts on 1 March, but my blanket is already about 70cm high = 28".

Secondly, the Russian whitework / needlelace. I've done the external border but that's all at the moment. I think the lady running it is busy with work so hasn't posted the second installment on her blog yet - at least that's what google translate seems to be telling me.

As yet another avoidance tactic, I started this quick little kit from The Sweetheart Tree. My mum gave it to me a couple of years ago, and I never started it. Last week I saw a lady on Instagram make it in just 2 weeks, so I thought I should really get onto it while I'm in a Sew My Stash phase. My mum's coming to visit in April so I plan to have it done before then.

Lastly, I made a scrappy bear paw block. Capital Quilters will be 30 years old this year, and the bear paw block is our logo. Some of the group have come up with the idea of making one of these blocks per month for 9 months. I plan to make 9 different coloured blocks. My first one is orange!!

It started out a nice light orange with the elephants, but quickly descended into fiery red orange once I remembered my Kaffe fabrics.  I've had to give in and buy some low volume fabrics for this quilt. They have never really appealed to me in the past, but I can certainly see that they have their place in this block. They separate out the orange sections and reduce the brightness of the block - well slightly anyway.

So that was February for me. A wide variety of projects worked on. I hope you had a productive month too. I wonder what March will bring?

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Block of the fortnight

That's a new name isn't it - Block of the fortnight.  Well that's what this quilt is. Each fortnight a shop called Little Quilts in USA releases two more patterns for the Women of the Bible quilt.

We're just about half way through the quilt now and I'm pleased with how mine is turning out.  I've chosen to use Denyse Schmidt fabrics that I purchased at Spotlight NZ. I've added in a few complementary fabrics that I had at home, but I'm trying to keep it blue and pink (with a touch of green now and then).

I've decided that rather than hauling all my fabrics out every fortnight just to make 2 blocks, I'll save up the patterns for 3 fortnights and make 6 blocks all at once.  Here's what it looks like with the first 20 blocks made. Some are 15" blocks, others are just 10" blocks. This isn't the final placement, it's just to get them all in one shot.

Here are the new blocks I made this weekend - blocks 15 to 20.

Most of these designs are new to me, and there's often more than one way to piece them.  I tend to cut my squares bigger than the pattern for the HSTs and them trim them up.  Some of my first blocks don't have much of a seam allowance on them!

Unfortunately Little Quilts won't let anyone else join this program at the moments. they have said that they will sell the patterns on a CD at the end of the program for USD 10, so if you're desperate to do it, you will have to wait until mid year and then get the patterns.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Kaffe Christmas Tree

My Kaffe Christmas Tree is finished - in February, of course. I purchased the kit for this mini quilt back in April 2014. I don't know why I never managed to get it finished for Christmas 2014, but it is now ready for Christmas 2015.

Kaffe Christmas Tree

A number of people on facebook have asked me for instructions to make this quilt. If this design was available as a downloadable pattern I would direct you to the online shop to buy your own copy. However, it's not, and I purchased the last kit at the shop, so I will provide some brief details about my quilt.

As you can see from the photo, there are 40 squares of different coloured green fabrics. I cut at 2.5" so they ended up as 2" squares. My kit contained mainly Kaffe Fassett fabrics and I love Kaffe fabrics, but you could use any green fabrics. Or I've even seen someone do it in blues and that was lovely too.

In the background there are  48 x 2.5" squares of white and cream fabrics, some of which have sparkles.

Then there are 18 half square trianges. As you know, you need to cut the squares bigger for half square triangles and then trim them to 2.5" square. I used the same green fabric for all of my HSTs.

I used a single piece of brown fabric for the base of the tree. It's as big as 4 squares combined.

I laid out all the pieces in the shape of the tree, and then sewed them together in rows. I then joined the rows, starting from the centre and working up and then down.

I cut 1.5" narrow border, and then a 3" wider border. I made my binding 2.25" wide from the same fabric as the tips of the branches.

The finished size is approx 27" wide x 30" high.


I quilted the green part of the tree with a great new thread called Wonderfill Dazzle in dark green. It has a sparkle embedded in it.  I got mine from a supplier at the New Zealand Quilt Symposium, but here's the website of the manufacturer.

Wonderfill Dazzle

I used Perle 9 to outline the tree and the borders, and I used regular cotton to quilt in the ditch between the white and cream blocks. I also quilted narrow lines on the trunk of the tree in brown Perle 8.

Although this quilt is small and could be used as a table runner, I put a hanging sleeve on it so it can also hang in our hall way at Christmas time. Of course I used Kaffe on the back of mine too - this is Paperweight in Jewel.

This is the second item on my Finish Along list for the first quarter, so I'm on track. Just one more mini quilt to hand quilt and finish before 31 March.

I'll be linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday and Crazy Mom Quilts.

Monday, 16 February 2015

A winner and lots of no reply comments

Nearly a month ago I started a give away for the Grow Your Blog event. Up for grabs were these purple fat quarter. Many of you left lovely comments telling me where you had been on holiday, thank you.  A surprising number of you know someone who has been to New Zealand.

But as I was reading all the comments I was quietly thinking that people must have finally got the message about no reply blogger status, because I wasn't getting any comments from no reply bloggers.

Then today when I went to do the draw. I went to my giveaway folder in gmail and thought 105 is quite a low number of entries for a give away, So I checked on Blogger to see how many comments had been made on this post and it said 173. Help! Where were 68 comments?

It turns out that I previously put some comments from a no reply blogger to spam, and now gmail thought every message from a no reply blogger was spam. I've now fixed that so it won't happen again.

About half of the no reply bloggers had included email addresses in their messages so I rescued those messages and included them in the draw. However, there still at least 30 people who I couldn't reply to and therefore didn't include in the draw.

If you commented on my blog and have not heard back from me you may well be a no reply blogger. If you're not sure please check out this post on Adrienne's blog.  Or you can leave a comment on this post asking me if you are a no reply blogger. I will answer on this post so you will have to come back and check again the next day.

After note - there are usually two reasons for someone being a no reply blogger. The method above helps those who have a google ID, and are no reply bloggers. The second group are those with Wordpress blogs. For some reasons wordpress users appear as no reply bloggers on blogspot blogs. Unfortunately blogger and wordpress show no interest in working on a joint solution to this problem, but most wordpress users know to leave their email address when they comment on blogspot blogs.

Anyway, onto happier news.  The winner of the giveaway is Her Indoors - a great name which makes me smile and think of UK comedies. Her Indoors lives in the UK and I have already sent her an email. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who entered.

I'm feeling better now thank you, and making great progress on v2.0 of my ripple blanket. Here's how it looks today. It's now at the point where it's warm on my knees as I crotchet. Some rows are variegated wool, others are plain.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Ripple Blanket v1.0 and v2.0

I've been sick for the last week so I decided to make a start on my crochet ripple blanket. I bought the wool with the intention of joining the Down Under Australia Crotchet Along which is due to start on 1 March, but I made a sneaky start last week while I was under the weather (sick).

I've crotcheted a lot in my past, so I thought this blanket would be easy enough. My first mistake came when I misread the pattern and cast on 231 stitches instead of 213. I think I only figured that out yesterday after a week of crochet!

I suddenly started to think yesterday that I might not have enough wool to make the blanket tall enough. I'm not using the wool in the pattern because they used acrylic. In New Zealand we need wool in the winter, so I'm using a lovely 100% wool called California by AusSpinners. It's lovely wool, but it's not cheap and I didn't really want to spend any more money on this blanket.

I laid the blanket on my bed to see how wide it was in reality, and got a shock to see that it was 150cms and covered the top of our Queen sized bed. It was only meant to be 120cms and cover the top of a single bed.

I also started to notice how dense the stitches were, and therefore how heavy it would be when it was finished.

All of those factors led me to make the decision to unpick 6 nights work and start again with a fewer number of stitches, and a bigger hook. Although the wool says it is 8 ply (double knitting), it feels more like 10 ply so I stepped up from a 4mm hook to a 5mm hook.

This time I actually made a test square to see how it would look on a 5mm hook and I liked the more open texture.

Last night I made a start on v2.0 of the ripple blanket. (pattern by Attic24). I started in blue this time so I wouldn't get confused between v1.0 and v2.0. I'm working to a colour card, but I just started at the top of the right hand column this time.  I've now got less stitches in the same number of cms, and shorter rows, so it shouldn't take too long to catch back up to where I was.

I still need to unpick the first attempt because I'm going to reuse that wool. Unfortunately the lovely fluffy mohair nature of the wool means that it's difficult to unpick, but I might rope in one of the kids to help wind it up while I unravel it.

So the moral of that story is, don't start a new project when you are sick and can't think straight. Even straight forward things can be mucked up if you're not thinking clearly.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

A finish at last

I've started quite a few new projects in 2015 which is always exciting, but I've also had one tiny finish.  This Halloween table mat was one of 4 items on my Finish Along list created about a month ago.

It's a purpose built mat for my Haunted House to sit on when it gets finished later in the year.  I'm pleased to say that yesterday I finished embroidering the back of the Haunted House, and it's the biggest section.

Haunted House by The Victoria Sampler

The other sections will be slightly faster now that I've got the dimensions of the house, and figured out the satin stitch at the top.  I often find it easier once I've done the first section. 

So, come Halloween, the house will be sitting on this mat in the hallway.

As soon as I finished the Halloween mat I pulled out the next item on my Finish Along list. A Christmas Tree mini quilt. I know, I'm doing everything at the wrong time of the year, but if I leave these until the end of the year they just won't be done in time (again).

I always intended to hand quilt this Kaffe Christmas Tree.  I decided to try something new and quilted free hand squiggly lines in the green section. I'm quite pleased with how they turned out. I used the green sparkly thread I picked up at Symposium. It's great to quilt with, but it does fray terribly so I have to be careful with the ends.  I've still got to decide what to do out in the white section yet.


Although I'm trying to be good and stick to my list, I couldn't resist the temptation to join up with a needlelace stitch along being run by a Russian lady - Daria. Here's a link to her blog

I've met many Russians on Instagram and they do beautiful embroidery. Daria has got permission from a Japanese lady (Erba?) to run a stitch along based on one of her free patterns.  Here's a link to casaerba.  This is what we are going to make.  It's shown as a table runner here, but I might just make mine a square and get it framed. 

Isn't it beautiful? It looks Eastern European / Turkish / Russian to me with those domes on the buildings. Although I don't usually do things in white, I think this one should be white so I'm using the bright white - B5200 coton a broder. I have accepted that I can't see clearly enough to do 32 count anymore, so am using 28 count linen for mine.  Daria says the instructions will be spread over 15 fortnights, with about 6-10 hours work per fortnight. I think that's manageable. (don't laugh)

Last night I made a start on the four sided stitch (box stitch) border, and I hope to finish that this weekend.