Monday, January 31


I have been going crazy for the last 3 days trying to work out why I have been unable to connect to the internet. Finally, I managed to get hold of iprimus on the phone - after they hung up on me TWICE because "all the operators are busy". It turns out that somehow the bill hadn't been paid, which is pretty difficult to do when they are supposed to direct debit an account for payment. And there was no warning either, so I am pretty annoyed with them. And then I had to wait till Monday morning to have my sister ring the billing department and sort it out, because the account is in her name. (I faked being her on the phone yesterday, to no avail.) And they shut down my email account while they were at it, so all my mail has been bouncing. I think it is working again now.

What else have I been up to?

Not much in the sewing department, unfortunately. I am feeling a little overwhelmed with Australiana. I know I should just get stuck in and draw up the next blocks, but I just can't muster any enthusiasm for it. I've been procrastinating for a week because I couldn't find a sketchbook I wanted to use for this (not that I looked very hard, but I did think about looking for it. For about 5 minutes last Thursday.) I found it this morning, so I can't use that for an excuse any more.

On Thursday morning I went on a second-hand shop-a-thon with a friend from where I used to work. We started off badly - the first shop we went to was no longer there. It's been an major store for about 15 years, and suddenly just gone. Onto the next, where we had better luck. I bought some books (distractions) and also managed to find some clothes - which I never usually look for because there is never anything in my size that doesn't scream "old lady" at me. A pair of jeans, a skirt and some track pants for $23, so I was happy with that. All up we managed 5 shops, and I was exhausted by the end of it. I also scored a fibre optic lamp for $3.50, it has a chrome sphere base and a plume of the optic bits, and the best thing is it rotates when it is turned on. I thought Nick would get a kick out of it and could have it in his room, but I am enjoying it immensely. I am easily amused sometimes.

And then I went mad on cleaning my son's room. A rare occurence, but it had got to the stage where I couldn't stand it anymore. I am not fastidious about these things (one look at my lounge room would convince you of that), but it was REVOLTING. I filled 3 garbage bags, and did 2 loads of washing, and there is still stuff to be done. Honestly, you'd think he was raised by wolves. Nicholas has the downstairs rumpus area as his bedroom - it has our old fridge in there and it has a bar (not for alcohol, but he could use it as a kitchenette). So it could be a nice retreat area for him, if he made some effort to treat it nicely, instead of a rubbish tip. I would have loved it when I was his age. So off to the tip yesterday to dispose of all the crap that generated, and to get rid of a dryer that I have been carting from house to house since 1998, when it stopped working. And while we were chucking boxes of stuff out, Nicholas is spying things that he wants to keep. I let him keep a bike chain. The man at the tip was laughing at Nick, and said to me that I was like his mother, only she would have thrown the bike out as well. I replied that if it would have fitted in the car, I would have thrown the bike out as well. The look on Nick's face! I bought him a laundry basket and a rubbish bin, so there are no more excuses for that pigsty.

I had the mother of all migraines last night. The sort where I get motion sickness from breathing. I had no painkillers in the house, and was plain miserable. I waited till my sister got up for work at 8 pm (she's a midwife, works 3 nights a week), and asked her if she had any painkillers. Bingo! She had Panadeine Forte and some digesics in her pocket from her previous shift. The Panadeine Forte weren't much chop, so I took the digesics after about an hour. They're fantastic. All cured now!

I have carried all my dying stuff upstairs, and will do some this afternoon, after I collect the boy.

I can't log into hello for some reason, so no pics for the moment. I think I want to do some sewing now, where to start? I should just finish that Isabella quilt - then I'll feel better. Maybe.

Tuesday, January 25


Here's what I've been working on in spare moments, not very big (12 inches high?), so not a big undertaking. Haven't started quilting yet, and probably won't get to it for a couple more days.

Do the background colours remind you of anything? That's right - MANGOES. I can't escape them.

Went to the BookFest (organised by a Lifeline to sell their book donations en masse) this morning after we did the school drop offs in the pouring rain. There was hardly anyone at BookFest, so we were able to browse through everything without having to fight the hordes of people that are there on the weekend. Though pickings were pretty slim, after 4 days. I managed to find several books that I am sure I have read previously (20 years ago), but I will keep them as emergency distractions, especially when Uni starts back in a few weeks. My sister looked for old knitting patterns, but not much luck. Not that she knits anything, she just likes the pictures.

How popular is knitting? I've been reading blogs of people who not only knit, they dye and spin and whatever else is involved. And not just jumpers (sorry, "sweaters"), but socks and hats and mittens and bags and shawls. And the amount of wool (sorry, "yarn") that they have! Although that bit (buying for a stash of lovely things) kind of appeals to me.

Must be a climate thing - there is not much call for knitted items in Queensland. Although there was a bit of a fad for knitting scarves over the last couple of winters, but honestly, you would only be able to wear it for about 3 days in August. I have knitted - but it was years ago. I knitted a cream romper and matching hat for my son when he was a baby - it tooks me ages to knit, and he wore it exactly once. I gave up knitting after that. It hardly seemed worth the effort.

Monday, January 24

I Don't Like Mangoes.

I don’t like mangoes. I think I am the only person in Queensland who doesn’t.

Or maybe it just seems that way when I am met with incredulous queries about how could I not love mangoes.

Maybe it’s because I was actually born in NSW (this can be a Big Deal, especially around State of Origin, if you care about football, which I don’t).

The Big Mango, in, appropriately, Bowen (Nth Qld).

More likely, it is because of the mango tree we had in the yard when I was younger. This tree didn’t grow the nice (!) Bowen mangoes. Nope, they were stringy, stinking, revolting things that fermented on the ground and filled the house with the smell of rotting fruit. I am making myself sick just thinking about it. (I learned in Behavioural Science that this is called taste aversion. Your brain links an episode of nausea with a food you have eaten, and you develop an aversion to that food, whether or not it is actually the culprit. Don’t get me started on Lemon Chicken. Or any other meat/fruit combination.)

So today I finally got the newsletter to the printer, and while I was on the other side of town, decided to visit Spotlight at Indooroopilly. I wanted a bit of yellow fabric, which I could dye myself, but I am in too much of a hurry for that at the moment. Found the right yellow, and a bit of pale chartreuse as well. Best of all, they had white cotton poplin for $1.49 a metre. I bought 20 metres, which should keep me going for a while.

On the drive home, it bucketed down. The kind of rain I hate driving in because you can’t see very far in front of you, and there was heaps of water sheeting across the roads as well. And I’m driving along a major road to the city, when I see mangoes rolling down the street, and floating away in the storm water. A few ventured onto the roadway and were promptly squished. It amused me all the way home.

Sunday, January 23

Some Progress

hexagons Posted by Hello
As you can see, I've made some progress on the hexagons. Worn a groove in the side of my finger, in fact. I think I'm going to change the next bit that goes around here, I'm not convinced that it will look how I want it, so i'll fiddle with the design a bit before I do any more.

Did some more of the quilting on the Isabella quilt, I'm finding it a big chore. And the batting is bearding through the dark fabric on the top, so it looks dreadful. No, it is NOT cat hair. OK, maybe a bit is cat hair, but not all of it!

And here is Sparkle, saving the household from a pesky flocked vinyl mouse plague.

Q: How do you drive two cats crazy?

A: Live in a house that has little geckos running on the walls and ceiling at night, way out of all possible kitty capturing distance. Hilarity ensues.

The thought of an actual live mouse in my house freaks me out no end, but I am quite happy to let geckos run free.

And my project that I was so keen to start on Friday night? I have fondled fabric, and that is about as far as I have got. I am about to go and start working on my drawing now.

Friday, January 21

The Distractions

Well, in all the excitement of Wednesday's news, I forgot that I had arranged to go shopping with my friend Margaret to help her buy fabric for a quilt she wants to make. Yikes! She rang me when I was 40 minutes late, and I was still sitting here in my pyjamas. At Lunch Time. In my defence, I had a good excuse - an appointment that Nicholas had for speech pathology had been rearranged for that afternoon as well, so I had it in my head that it was my only committment for the day. But we arranged to go out after the appointment, so all was not lost. Managed to find the right fabric for Margaret to use, and she bought a pattern and yarn for a little knitted jacket and pixiehood for her grandaughter- it has ostrich yarn around the edge of the jacket and the front of the hood. Gorgeous. And we had a nice afternoon tea at a little cafe as well.

So no sewing on Wednesday, and no sewing yesterday, because I had to finish the newsletter for QQ off - it always takes longer than I think it will, it took ALL DAY, and I still had to fiddle with it this morning. And today my CD burner is on the fritz for some unknown reason, and I have wasted about 10 CD's trying to get the newsletter on to take to the printer. GRRRR. But I have now purchased a little memory stick to get around this problem, so I will sort that out on Monday morning. I'm not volunteering for anything else for a while.

So I have been chomping at the bit to try a few new things, and Melody's gentle reminder is the incentive I needed to get going. I am going to use some of my dyed fabric, which I usually can't bear to use, and some different techniques. Only a small quilt, just to experiment with my ideas. I'll let you know how I go. But first I have to cook dinner for everyone. But after dinner there will be no stopping me.

And the quilt showcase article will be in Australian Patchwork and Quilting, not sure of when, as I have to have the quilts valued before I send them to Sydney to be photographed. Hexaholic is going to be displayed at the conference in Melbourne next month, if anyone is going there. I'm not, have to go to Uni. Thank goodness this is my last year, I'm sick of it.

Wednesday, January 19

Exciting News!

I have just been asked to have two of my quilts featured in a "Showcase" in a quilting magazine! And they want to interview me. I won't be able to wear hats if this continues!!

And the two quilts are:

Coco and the Yellow Worm of Happiness (there actually is a yellow worm, as you can see, and Coco is absolutely obsessed with it. She will fetch and retrieve it over and over again, I've never seen a cat fetch anything before. Only it's not so yellow anymore, because she loves it so much.) While I was making this quilt, she also tried to pick up the worms from the quilt top. I nearly wet myself it was so funny. Oh dear, I am turning into a weird cat lady. My sister and I will be the old ladies down the street living with 300 cats in their house. She will be the one with a teatowel on her head.

And Hexaholic - here is a close-up of it while it was in progress. I particularly like the rainbows and the edge. I tried a couple of different border fabrics, and it was amazing how different the colours appeared. A blue/green border emphasised the blues in the quilt, while this one makes you focus more on the pinks/oranges and reds.

Mosaic Maker

mosaic Posted by Hello

I found a great new toy while I was reading meggiecat's blog - she has heaps of great links, pictures and inspirations. The one that I played with last night is a great mosaic maker that uses the JPEG files on your computer to convert any picture that you choose into a mosaic. Here is the link to AndreaMosaic - it is a free download, and very easy to use.

I love zooming into the mosaic picture - I found Coco, my friends daughter Imogen in the Christening dress I made for her, dresses that my sister has made, quilt show pictures, a rock with moss on it that I photographed at Caloundra last year, the challenge fabric, and lots of tartan fabric that my sister sold on Ebay. You might have to save the picture and go through your "my pictures" viewer to look closer.

The original picture

I have seen quilts made using the same principles - Lorraine Carthew, who is also a member of my guild, has made several portrait quilts using these techniques and they are fantastic quilts. One was of Don Bradman, another was RM Williams, and I understand that her most recent one was of JFK. The JFK quilt was entered in the Houston show, but she didn't win a prize. I wish I had pictures of these to show, but I don't have any. I'll work on it. Apparently Lorraine is writing a book about this, or it might be on her mosaic applique technique, I'm not sure. LC's quilts are show stoppers, and she doesn't use a computer to design them, which always amazes me. The portraits are composed of 1 inch squares (I think, haven't seen them for a while) that are basted onto paper and then whip stitched together.

I just had a look at Melody Johnson's blog, and she has displayed a mosaic picture of George W's face, composed of the faces of soldiers killed in Iraq. Puts human faces on the statistics.

Monday, January 17

Road Trip

I seem to have spent all day driving around today. The plan was to go on my own, but my sister didn't work last night, so she wasn't sleeping today and was able to come with me.

First stop - collect my nephew from a sleepover, and have a look at the beautiful new cat that his friend Zy got on Saturday. Merlin is a ragdoll/persian cross ex stud cat. I've never seen such a big fluff ball in my life. His feet were huge! Poor thing is suffering in the heat though. And the most interesting thing was the physical similarity between him and my cat Coco - identical colouring and pattern. Unfortunately, we don't know any of her history so it is all speculation on our part. But she is very relaxed about being picked up and held, and doesn't fight it at all. Unlike Sparkle, who has a record on being held for 14 seconds (we counted) before twisting out of your arms and collapsing in a heap on the floor.

Coco in her daily battle with the evil bag handles.

Next stop the fabric shop - with only minor confusion about which highway we were actually on we managed to get there in one piece. I managed to find a good backing fabric for Australiana - sort of pebbles, which will disguise any quilting mishaps - and a few other bits and pieces. In total, I bought 18 metres of fabric for $90.

Fabric for the Australiana quilt- the pebbly looking one will be the backing, and I really like the one with little cats on it.

This is one piece of fabric that shades from purple to lime across the width of the fabric. Got this in a yellow to rust and pink to burgundy as well. 2 metres of each. I will use them!

Quick lunch at Hungry Jacks before our next stop - the Tip! There is a great "recycling centre" with the Browns Plains tip, so we always have a look there if it is open. My sister found some Meakin china pieces which cost her $2, and I bought an old Sega Mega Drive for $5. We used to have one of these about 10 years ago, but it doesn't work properly for some reason. I'll give this one a try, because I love Sonic the Hedgehog and I still have all the games. Hope it works!

Then home just before the rain started, which has cooled everything down nicely. Plus I don't have to water the garden today.

And now a fun job - I have to dag the cat. It ain't gonna be pretty.

Sunday, January 16


star Posted by Hello

Still hot today - it was only supposed to be around 28, so I didn't bother with the air conditioner this morning. But it just got hotter and hotter, and the cats were like puddles of fur lying on the tiles so I turned it on after lunch - Relief! The shampoo was hot out of the bottle, so it must have been over 35. So I am not going to bed until my room is much cooler - the carpet is hot under my feet, and everything you touch is hot. I'll sit in the air conditioning, thank you very much!

After I cooled down the lounge room, I managed to sew in comfort. Made some bits for the hexagon quilt - four of the points are not joined yet, but I have to take a couple hexagons off so it will all fit together - that's what I get for not looking at the pattern before I finish pieces.

Tomorrow I am going for a drive to a fabric shop that is closing down - it takes about an hour to get there and is well worth the trip because their prices are cheap anyway. But I've heard that they are selling everything at 50% off, so I'll try to buy some meterage for backings.

Saturday, January 15

Quilter's Block

Not much sewing being done around here - combination of not enough sleep and it's too hot now.

We took a trip to the tip yesterday - to get rid of an dead microwave and visit the tip shop. We love the tip shop - it is full of all sorts of crap that we didn't know we wanted until we saw it there really cheap. For example - an exercise bike for $3, it only had 26 K's on the milage thingy. It now sits downstairs, unused. I want to buy little metal teapots to convert to potplants for the garden, but they are becoming a bit expensive ($2 for a crappy old teapot? I don't think so.) Yesterday we bought a coffee maker, a bit grubby, but it was only a couple of dollars. Apparently, someone has put milk in the bit where water goes (according to my sister) so she is soaking it to see if it comes good. The rest of it cleaned up OK.

I'd like to finish the Isabella quilt this weekend, I started doing a bit of background quilting on it but I am not in the right frame of mind for it at the moment. Maybe tomorrow.

Sparkle is being really friendly - musn't be any food in her dish.

Am also finishing the newsletter off for my guild - a member who visited New York recently and went to the garment district has sent me some photos of her trip to include in the magazine. I'm really envious, it looks great.

Friday, January 14

Pumpkin Bandit

pumpkin Posted by Hello

We have a pumpkin vine that emerged from the compost pile - it's taking over the backyard, which is good because then we don't have to mow the grass. We've been waiting and watching for weeks now to see how many actual pumpkins we will get, because there is a lot of vine and not much in they way of actual pumpkins. There was much excitement at finding this one (even though it was making an escape attempt over the back fence). So today we looked out, and it had moved from hanging on the fence to the ground, and we were all ready to blame careless kids for touching it. A closer inspection revealed that it has been taste tested. The culprit is probably the Ringtail possum I've seen and heard around the place. He likes tomatoes as well. I suppose we can't begrudge him a bit of food - we took out a lot of big trees from the back yard when we bought the house - they were dangerously close to the house and gum trees can drop BIG branches for no apparent reason. Plus some dope planted a Bunya Pine right next to the house - it was huge and getting huger - they are nice trees, but they are not suitable for suburban backyards.

One night I could hear something moving around in the front yard, where we had just done some planting that day - I looked out to see the possum strolling aound and inspecting the roses we had put in the ground. Probably putting it on his list of places to eat.

Melon Posted by Hello
And this is a melon in the backyard - it's a champagne melon, which I've been assured is much nicer than plain watermelon. It'll have a yellow middle. Untouched by said possum so far!

Little Hexagons

little hexagons so far Posted by Hello
This is the start of the new hexagon project - not much done so far as I have been distracted by Christmas. I have worked out the pattern on EQ5, the yellow triangly bits on the side will be points of a star, but I haven't made them yet. I particularly like the little lady birds on the yellow prints - using really small pieces of fabrics really changes them and you can focus on little details that you generally miss on bigger pieces of fabric. The yellow star in the middle measures 7 inches point to point.

Posted by Hello
Here are the hexagons ready to go - I can do these in front of the TV, and it really is a mindless activity. Only thousands more to go! I have a box of cut fabrics sorted by colour, that I can pick up as I have time to do it.

Coco chasing the handle from the camera Posted by Hello
I did some fabric dying last night - haven't done any since moving house last July, so I had to find all the bits and pieces downstairs in the garage. Found most stuff, but some measuring cups have disappeared. I also had to work out how to use the fancy schmancy front loader that my sister bought (I know how to wash clothes in it, but not how to just rinse or spin something).
All that sorted, I managed to dye some B&W prints that I bought a few weeks ago, and some 1 metre pieces of this other fabric I found. I usually use homespun, but I found a fabric that had a finer feel to it. The label said it was 100% cotton, but I have a suspicion that there is some poly in it as well. Soon find out - it's rinsing time! The Best Bit!

Wednesday, January 12

Two Sleepy Kitties

2 Sleepy kitties Posted by Hello

Here are my 2 Kitties - Sparkle is the B&W one and Coco is the furry one. They are both about 12 months old, Coco was brought home by my son after he "rescued" her from some bloke who didn't want her. I said "No Cat", and the next day we have a cat. She has a lovely personality- completely different to every other cat I'd had anything to with (mostly street strays, who liked to be fed only). So she stayed.

Sparkle was adopted from the Vet's cat re-homing centre - we had taken Coco to be desexed, and had a look at the other cats while we were there. Sparkle had fallen off a 3rd floor balconey, had been taken to the vet, and the owners never came back for her. She had a broken leg, and now has a permanent limp. She seems to be a little less co-ordinated than your average cat, so it is just as well they are indoor girls. (Cute as they are, I know they are Killing Machines if allowed to roam free outside). An absolute bargain for $100 - desexed and vaccinated already, after I had just spent $250 on everything for Coco.

Australiana wreath Posted by Hello
This is the beginning of a commission quilt that is for a friend of a friend. She dosn't really know anything about quilts - and they always want fancy applique!

Anyway, she is happy to pay me, and it will be an interesting project for me. Joan wants all Australian flora and fauna, and we looked at a few books together so I could get an idea of her preferences, and she has given me free reign. This is the middle of the quilt - about 36 inches square, and will be the center medallion on point, and then I will put 12 inch blocks around it, and she wants a wattle border. It is going to be a huge quilt (225cm L X 240cm W), so I think I will have to quilt it in sections and then put it together. I'm going to quilt the latin names of plants and animals in as well, nothing obvious, but there for Joan to discover.

Coco Posted by Hello
And this is what happens when you leave lovely things on the floor - they become the sole property of Coco, to do with as she wishes!

Tuesday, January 11

How to Quilt?

Isabella Posted by Hello

This is a sample that I am making for a friend of mine who owns a shop - it is "Isabella" designed by Valori Wells. It went together OK - although I did find a little mistake in the instructions, and some of the cutting directions weren't as clear as they could have been.

So now I am stuck on how to quilt it. I've done a bit of ditch quilting to stabilise it, and that's as far as I've got. There is so much going on with the fabric, that any quilting I add won't really be noticeable anyway. Guess I'll just think about it for a while and wait for inspiration to strike. I want to get it finished and out of the way!

Monday, January 10

dragonfly garden

Dragonfly Garden Posted by Hello

This is a quilt I made for the 2003 quilt show - the first time I entered a show. I would have been thrilled just to see it hanging in a public space, but I actually won a 2nd prize! Feedback from the judges was that it didn't hang flat enough - a problem I attribute to the mostly bias background. The setting triangles on the outside are on grain, but obviously this was not enough to overcome the bias of the main blocks. Oh well. I was still ridiculously excited to have won a prize!! This quilt is now on my bed, or on the floor in a ball, so I guess the hanging flat is not really important!

The flowers are from Piece o Cake's book "Stars in the Garden". I really liked the bold flower shapes and the symmetrical layout, but the colours were a bit blah for me. (the 1st prize winner in the same category as my quilt, was an exact copy of the quilt in the book, and they won best use of colour).

You can't see them in this picture, but I quilted little gold dragonflies all over the background, along with acres and acres of stippling on the background. The flowers and leaves also have more quilting on them.

Coco and the Yellow Worm of Happiness

Coco and the Yellow Worm of Happiness Posted by Hello
This is the 2nd quilt that I entered in the 2004 show - made at the last minute on a whim, because I found a little piece of fabric with cats like these, which I used as a starting point for the design.

This quilt is raw edge, machine appliqued and quilted in one go - so it was really quick to make. (Well, it was after I had spent hours assembling the cats and flowers separately before sticking them on the background). I also used charcoal batting for the first time - I think it really makes the dark background darker and the colours glow.

I also won a 1st prize with this quilt!

So now I have 2 blue ribbons from a major show, I am considered a Professional!


Hexaholic Posted by Hello

This is one of the quilts that I made to enter the 2004 show in Queensland - it is paper pieced hexagons.

This project started so I would have some hand sewing to take to my sewing groups on Thursday nights. Before long, I was taking bits to uni to do in my free time, and spending all my spare time on this. Addictive!

The design was sketched out on EQ5, and then I assembled individual units before joining them all together. The side of each hexagon is 3/4 inch, and there are 4847 in the quilt top. the top measures 195 cm by 205 cm.

I machine quilted over the individual sections - mostly in complementary colours, because I wanted the hexagons to stand out, not the quilting.

Anyway, I won a first prize for this quilt at the show, so I was really happy.

So happy, I started another hexagon quilt, but with smaller hexagons. I found that this quilt got really big really fast, and I wanted to do more patterns. These ones have an edge of 1/2 inch, and I am not using black prints, so it will be a bit brighter!

Sunday, January 9

The Challenge

The Challenge Fabric Posted by Hello

My quilt guild has a challenge every 2 years - you buy a fat quarter of fabric, and use it to create a 50cm by 70cm (what's that in inches?) quilt, of which the front must have 20% of the challenge fabric visible.

So that's the fabric that was chosen this year - horrible, isn't it?

I've been looking at it for about 5 months now, wondering what on earth to do with it, because it is really not my sort of fabric, colourwise.

Monarch Challenge

Monarch Posted by Hello

This is what I did with the challenge fabric - a monarch butterfly and purply flowers. I had to cut the fabric into chunks of colour and then used vliesofix for the flowers (there are other fabrics in there as well, but I used the challenge fabric on top to make sure I meet the 20% rule). The flowers are free motion embroidered onto the background.

I constructed the butterfly separately and then attached it. The wings are reverse applique - the orange challenge bits were fused onto interfacing, covered in Solvy, and then I embroidered little circles over it in orange rayon. Then I put the black edge pieces over the top, and stitched the butterfly down to the background. I haven't done the body yet - that's why there's a whit bit in the middle still. I want it to be realistic, so I am thinking of using velveteen for the body, and sort of 3-D, but I haven't worked out how to do it yet.