Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Relaxing Robin progress

Dawn hasn’t had a linky party for the Relaxing Robin this month – probably because she and I are the only ones doing it! You can still join in at any time; the details are on the tab at the top of my blog.

My 'progress' on this project has been slow. October was a non-sewing month for me and most of time in my sewing room this month has been taking up by ironing, cutting, sorting and storing scraps (which I am nowhere near finished)! The little time I’ve had to sew, mostly in class, has been focused on my braid quilt which has been causing me no end of problems (and will get it’s own post when the top is finally done)!

I really wanted to work on my Canary on a Pinwheel quilt, which is my Relaxing Robin project; but I had no idea where I was going with it. I like to work my way through a project without too much of a plan but with only two nine inch blocks and twelve four inch blocks, the goal of making a 48” x 64” quilt was quite daunting!

For instance: I knew I wanted to make flying geese units to try out the no-waste method (Jennifer Houlden on YouTube; Patchwork Pieces pdf file here) but how big and how many did I need?

I have been inspired to try an asymmetrical quilt since I saw this book last November.

I got really inspired when I found a pdf file on quiltinggallery.com for Gypsy Breeze quilt by Phyllis Dodds. This works because of the limited palette and (I’m assuming) the use of one fabric range.
assymetrical Gypsy-Breeze-Quilt by Phyllis Dobbs on quiltinggallery dot com

It was time to draw up a rough plan. I did one on graph paper, then I duplicated it in Microsoft Paint so that I could try out tones/colours. I don’t know why Paint decided to change many of my lines to red when I tried to colour a block but that's okay – its just a guide!
Canary on a Pinwheel plan Canary on a Pinwheel

You can see how Phyllis Dodd’s’ “Gypsy Breeze” influenced my plan. I, too, intend to use a limited colour palette of clear blue, red, yellow and green – no muddy colours here. The fabrics will mostly be tone-on-tone or semi-solids – I think the idea is busy enough without fussy patterns getting in the way! I’m not sure what my background fabric (shown here in pink) will be; I have to use something that is on hand so I will make the blocks, probably more than I need, first then find a background fabric that works.

And now, dear friends, it’s time to cut and sew some flying geese blocks!
See you with another post on Friday.

Friday, 21 November 2014

vacation photo journal

“A picture paints a thousand words” so I hope this gives a small indication of our time away from home (in Australia, we call this ‘holidays’). Warning: as the title suggests, this is a photo heavy post.

We spent a weekend catching up with friends that we haven’t seen in seven years, except for DD’s wedding and my dad’s funeral. They live in a small town called Bellbrook, a community of 360 people. We spent most of our time talking but WM got up early and took some photos. Here is a photo of their house and part of their 18 acres. The second photo is taken over their dam as seen from their back patio.

Bellbrook Homestead Bellbrook view

We spent a few days with my mother – she spends most of her time reading.


WM did a few small jobs while there; including getting up on the roof and turning on the evaporative air cooler. Can you see him up there?


From mum’s, we drove east to the coast, passing through the town of Grafton the weekend they celebrated the Jacaranda Festival. I took these photos out the front window while WM was driving. Jacarandas are an imported species; the tree with gold flowers in the first photo is Grevillea Robusta ( common name: “Silky Oak”) which is an Australian native.

Grafton 1 Grafton 2 Grafton 3 Grafton 4  Grafton 6 Grafton 7

Our ‘real’ vacation began when we took possession of a beachside cabin at Woolgoolga, just a few minutes drive from DD’s home.

 Woolgoolga cabin

This was the view from our front veranda early one morning:

Woolgoolga beach view

We had lots of walks on the beach.

Woolgoolga beach

Both grandsons were fascinated with these little balls made as the sand-crabs made little holes for themselves.

crab balls

The seagulls didn’t take any notice of us – unless they thought there might be some food on offer! WM took a great photo; I love the reflection.


We went whale spotting up on the headland and were rewarded with seeing whales every day. The whales were travelling south; returning to the cold waters of the Antarctic Ocean after going north for a few months to while away the winter in warmer water. The return journey is usually slower and more in-shore, given that there are calves to be taken care of, and therefore better for whale spotting.

looking for whales

They were much further out than WM’s camera could capture so don’t expect professional photos.

The first indication that there is a whale is the sight of a spout as they surface to breathe.

whale spout 2 whale spout 3 

Sometimes you catch a glimpse of some body part out of the water, like this faraway tail!

whale tail

And sometimes, they jump out of the water. We saw several whales breach but they were always too far away to get a clear photo. This was WM’s best shot of a humpback breaching.


Our best experience was when a mother humpback and her calf came in relatively close to the shore. They were close enough that, with the onshore wind, we could hear the mother slapping the water.

mother and babe mother and baby

On our final day in Woolgoolga, we made Christmas puddings. Both boys love to cook so they were very excited when we arrived at their house. “Did you bring the ‘gredients?” was our greeting!

Our Christmas puddings have threepences in them; an old English tradition from my mum’s family. Threepences are part of Australia’s pre-decimal currency – they contain a large amount of silver so don’t harm the food as modern coins would. These photos show some members of the family throwing their threepences in (and making a ‘wish’). Next year we’re going to add the threepences to the dry ingredients to make it easier for the boys to stir.

puddings 1 puddings 2 puddings 3 puddings 4 puddings 6 puddings 7 puddings 8 puddings 9 puddings 11

SIL came home from work just in time. We ended our holiday/vacation with a family lunch at a popular tavern nearby which has a great play area for the kids – it was much more crowded than we expected; we forgot it was Halloween (a ‘tradition’ that is only just taking on in Australia) and celebrated here mostly for fun and dressing up in ghoulish costumes!

WM and I had a good trip home. With the boys, the trip is nine hours; we did it in seven and a half!

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite photos from our holiday – Younger Grandson doesn’t usually wear his hair like that; we’d just come in from the beach and Grandad had towel-dried it!

YG alias spike

Thursday, 13 November 2014

photo journal

There has been a lot of this as I continue to take control of my sewing room:
crumb sorting
small containers to hold 'crumbs'  (anything under 2") sorted by colour
scraps in waiting
scraps waiting for my attention

square sorting
moving from open baskets to lidded storage -- this stack is for squares from 2' - 4.5"
and some of this in preparation for a workshop (on using coloured and variegated yarns) I am facilitating on Saturday
two samples of 'stacked pooling'

while listening to this on a continual loop in preparation for a worship service I am leading on Sunday
and a vast amount of this (we spent most of the last week of WM’s annual leave gardening)
top garden
native hibiscus in foreground, buddleia in middle ground;
clivea and camelia in backgrouns
advanced seedlings
verbena seedlings

cosmos seedlings sown five days ago!
 There has been a daily dose of this (can’t resist that view)

and tomorrow is forecast to be 40°C ( 104°F) so there will probably be some of this:

Unfortunately, there never seems to be enough of this:

And, yes, I do know I owe you a post about our time away!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Something Old, Something New – November edition

Never too hot to Stitch!

October was a mixed bag (both good and not-so-good) for me, with not much sewing got done.

First I was away at the beach with my mum, sister and her family, as well as DD and the Grandboys, for a few days. When I came home, it was a long weekend so WM spent some time together and I also found a little time for sewing.

On the Monday of the long weekend, I got hit with some kind of gastric attack which lasted five days. I didn’t feel like doing much except reading or watching YouTube videos. One can still be inspired and taught, even when one is feeling poorly, right?

We were supposed to go away for ten days on 21 October but our friends were unable to host us on the planned weekend – she had been offered a last minute chance to go to India on a missions trip – an opportunity not to be missed. WM was on annual leave and we had nothing planned for the weekend coming up, so we caught the train to the nearest station to their place (a seven hour trip), stayed for two days (three nights), then caught the train home again.

We were at home for one day (two nights), before we took off again: this time to visit my mother for a few days then to Woolgoolga, the town where DD and the family live. We returned on Friday with three hours of October left! I will write a separate post about our time away; this is not the time nor the place! ;-)

My sewing time amounted to a few snatched hours on the long weekend, plus two three hour classes. It’s my experience that one achieves a lot less in class than at home with the whole sewing room to oneself! Because we were away most of the month, my sewing machine also had a ‘vacation’, she has gone away for her annual service. I hope she’s back when I go to LQS for my Monday morning class.

So, all that to say: neither of goals for October were met, nor were they even touched.

For some reason, I thought my “Something New” project was learning how to join my braids with every other braid inverted.

 sashing meets braids

See how the braids line up on withwer side of the sashing? That was much more complicated than I thought and I managed to join just two lengths of sashing in a three hour class!

sashing meets braids detail

My goals for November, therefore, remain the same as those for October:

Something Old is to unpick the stitches that were previously quilted into my Country Houses quilt and, perhaps, even get started on the applique to replace it!

side panel house too subtle

Something New is to make at least one snap bag following this video (the same video I embedded on my previous Something Old, Something New post. I include it here for those who missed it last time).

So, what about you?
How did you do in October with your Something Old, Something New projects?
What are your plans for November?

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