Tuesday 28 July 2015

July - where did it go?

July was a weird month for me. I was very busy with work for the first week, and then busy with holidays. Does that make sense?  Anyway, life is back to normal now with my boys back at school, and me working from home again.  Here's what I've been working on during July:

1.  Fandango Sky

This is a canvas work design by Laura J Perin. Laura's designs combine variegated threads of different textures, metallic threads and even tiny beads.  I love how she combines colours and textures.  I took this to Melbourne because I knew the lighting in hotels is never great, and if I don't do something in the evenings I just fall asleep in front of the TV! The canvas has big holes so it's great to stitch on in poor lighting.

So here's where I'm up to now:

Fandango Sky

I've made other designs by Laura J Perin in the past and they now hang on the wall in our bedroom:

Starry Nights

Jewel Box - I changed the colours on this one

2.  The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery

Have you heard of this company? They design very cute cross stitch patterns and seem to be taking the world by storm. A lot of young women are being drawn into cross stitch by their very cute patterns.  They sell the patterns online as a downloadable pdf to print at home, and they really are very cheap at about USD12 per design. They have a website and are on facebook. There's even a facebook group for those people stitching the designs.

I'm not finished Part 1 yet

I've just downloaded the first of four patterns in A Very Merry Christmas Town, which is their mystery Christmas design for 2015.   There will be one part of the pattern released each month for four months and I should be finished well before Christmas. Although it's a mystery, they do tell you the size of the design so you won't run out of linen!

I bought some sparkly linen when I was in Auckland, and fortunately had all the threads I needed in my stash! (with a few very minor substitutions)

This is my version of the 2014 Christmas mystery sampler from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery:

3.  My Scrappy Bear Paw quilt

I've been trying to fit in a bit of hand quilting each week to keep this quilt moving along.  I've quilted 5 of the 9 stars so I'm past half way.  I haven't decided on the binding yet, but expect it will be some combination of black and white.

Here's a reminder of the whole quilt top.

4. Haunted House - last one I promise

I've started to assemble my Haunted House. It's on my Finish A Long list for Q3 and I know it will take weeks, so I made a start at the weekend. I'm determined that it will be neater than my Bakery last year, when I forgot that the building should be symmetrical, and cut each side independent of the other sides. I can't redo the Bakery, but I can learn from that and make future buildings more balanced.

Here are my other buildings, all designed by Thea Dueck from The Victoria Sampler in Canada and stitched by me over the last 3 years.

I know you're all thinking that there's nothing wrong with the Bakery, but I know the Haunted House is going to be even better.

That's all for now - I wonder what August will bring?

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Melbourne in winter

We arrived back yesterday from our holiday in Melbourne. We had a lovely time, but were quite surprised at how cold it was. We tend to think of Australia as always being hotter than New Zealand (except for Tasmania), but it was really cold in Melbourne while we were there.  Some days it only got to 9C (48F) and it rained a few days too.

Anyway, we put on our trusty black puffer jackets and got out and about. We covered most of the central city on foot and by tram.  We all went on a tour of the Melbourne Park Tennis Centre. I love watching the Australian Open each January, but I know it would be too hot for me to sit and watch court side. It's often between 30C and 35C (86F to 95F) when the Open is on, but it can even reach 40C (104F) some days.

I said "Hello" to all my favourites

We saw all the trophies in the cabinets, and saw in the mens' locker room too. There was a false floor laid on top of the playing surface in Rod Laver Arena. They use it for concerts in the off season. The arena has a retractable roof and holds 14,000 people.

On Sunday we went for a walk beside the Yarra River. There are lovely wide walk ways, and lots of tempting restaurants and street entertainers beside the river.

Sorry that these photos aren't the best, but I didn't want to lug my camera around.

Of course I did manage to visit a few fabric shops too.  First up was Amitie Textiles which Jen Kingwell owns. They had beautiful fabrics - mainly lighter colours and florals.  I was very restrained and didn't buy very much because I had ordered a mixed pack from them a few weeks earlier. The fabrics on the right are fat 16ths, yes, just very small pieces, but that's what Jen uses in a lot of her quilts. I saw beautifully hand quilted quilts in the shop. They use Perle 8 like I do, but they take very small stitches, where I tend to do bigger stitches. I think I'll try for smaller stitches in my next quilt.

On the way back from Amitie I went to L'Uccello, which is a real treasure trove for lovers of Liberty and French General.  I'm probably the only person who has ever walked out of there with such a bright collection of wool felt and Kaffe Fassett.

The third shop I went to was GJ's Discount Fabrics in Fairfield. It was quite a way out of the city, but we made it there via a combination of trams and buses.  Once again, my choices were quite bright, but I also got some useful black and white fabrics. Yes, I bought 10 fat quarters of Art Gallery Oval Elements.

There are many beautiful arcades in Melbourne too, with so many tiny shops to explore.  Here's one of them. We spent a fair bit of time in Emporium Melbourne, but couldn't afford most of what was offer there.

Those who follow football will know that Real Madrid are currently in Melbourne to play some exhibition matches. My husband and one son went to see them on Saturday night and loved the football and the experience at the MCG.

Sunday 12 July 2015

Winter Holidays and la passacaglia update

It's our winter school holidays here in New Zealand so I've been to visit my Mum and Dad in Auckland for a few days. My sons get 3 weeks of holidays which is a long time in the middle of winter when it's cold and wet. They appreciated a few days in Auckland, even though it wasn't much warmer up there this time.

I got to see my mum's progress on her la passacaglia quilt. She's using floral fabrics, so her's will look quite different to mine. These rosettes remind me of the old cups and saucers that people used to use for afternoon tea! Mum has a fair few of those in her china cabinet.

We laid my rosettes out next to mum's to imagine we had a whole quilt. Although our styles are quite different, it was nice to see how much of the floor we could cover.

 I've been working on mine slowly. The next step is to complete the four large rosettes by adding stars around the outside edges. I glue basted the pieces for the stars this week.

Tomorrow we're all off to Melbourne for a family holiday. I know it will be cold there too, but we wanted somewhere relatively close that the kids haven't been to before. I've been there quite a few times for work, because the company I worked for had their head office in St Kilda Road.

I've got a list of quilt shops to visit and instructions on how to get to them. The males in the family want to go to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) so they can do that too. I want to go to Melbourne Park, the Tennis Centre. The major highlight for them will be going to see Real Madrid play football (soccer) on Saturday night at the MCG.

Yesterday I sorted out what I'll work on while we're away. I pulled out this lovely Laura J Perin design that I've had for ages. I've now finally got all the right threads, so I will take it with me.

I had to make a little start last night just to be sure I understood the directions. It's going to be lovely.

So, please forgive me if I don't get back to you over the next week. Access to the internet will be very limited while we are away. See you next week.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

2015 Finish Along - Q3 goals

Well, it's time to think about what I want to finish in Q3.  The answer to that is "lots of things", but thinking about it practically, this is what I hope to finish:

1.  Haunted House
This is an embroidered Haunted House from The Victoria Sampler. The pattern was only released about Halloween time last year, so I couldn't make it for Halloween 2014, but it will be ready for Halloween 2015 for sure.  It may look like I'm almost finished, but assembly takes days of fiddling around with glue and pins.  I want it to be perfect, so I'll be taking my time to get all of the sides even before I sew it together.

2.  Scrappy Bear Paw quilt
You can read more about this quilt here.  A number of people from Capital Quilters are making quilts like this for our guild's 30th anniversary.  Mine is all pieced and I've started hand quilting it. I just need to finish the hand quilting and attach the binding.

3.  Tree quilt
This quilt is my first art quilt.  Jenny Hunter, the designer, was the guest speaker at our guild meeting in June.  She bought along her original version of this quilt and I really liked it.  She also had packs of precut shot cottons for sale, so I bought greens and yellows because they were a bit different for me.  I've already started quilting it on my new Bernina and I'm really enjoying it.

Jenny Hunter's original quilt - Trees Mini Quilt

4. Spinning Stripes
I wrote about this quilt in my last post here. Now the top is all sewn together, and I just need to quilt it and bind it. I'll add it to this list so it doesn't get ignored. Shirley suggested that we quilted along the stripes, so I'll give that a go.

The Finish Along linkup party is working well for me. I finished all 4 things on my Q1 list which was here, and finished 3 out of 4 things on my Q2 list which was here.  Anyone with a blog or Instagram account can join up and share their goals. Adrianne is running the Finish Along this year, so see her blog On the Windy Side for all the Q2 finishes here.

I'll keep you updated on my progress as the quarter progresses.

Saturday 4 July 2015

Spinning Stripes

Two weeks ago I attended a class with a very talented local quilter, Shirley Mooney.  We started with a single length of a stripey fabric, and a 60 degree triangle ruler. Through out the day we turned the fabric into something completely different.  

Siren Song by Michael Miller Fabrics

Shirley encouraged us to take photos on our phones and study how our arrangements looked on a smaller screen.  This was my first attempt:

Then it grew to look like this:

 Then I swapped out 3 of the centres and made all the centres dark, and that looked better:

Someone else in the class had the same fabric, but in pink and purple. She went for a different approach:

Another student had something completely different:

We spent the whole day cutting triangles and playing with the layout. Once we were happy with our layouts we pinned them to sheets and took them home to sew up.  The knack is in matching the stripes perfectly, as shown below.

Due to the care and attention needed to get the stripes matching correctly, I only got 2 columns sewn together the next day, and even they aren't 100% perfect, but I'll settle for 97.5% perfect in this case.

The rest is still pinned to the sheet, waiting to be joined up. Because I'd purchased plenty of fabric, I had enough to do 2 different designs, so I've got 2 designs pinned onto my sheet.  It's carefully strewn across my sewing table - I need to be careful that it doesn't accidentally get bundled into the washing machine. Imagine all those pins and triangles floating around in the washing machine.

I'll be certain to post more photos as this progress, but it's the start of our winter school holidays now, and my kids are off for 3 weeks. We've got a couple of trips planned so I don't expect to get a lot of sewing done in July.

Shirley has a blog called Don't Wait to Create, and is on Instagram with the same name. I recommend you take a look.