Saturday, April 30

Kinda true

Your Birthdate: May 1

Your birthday suggests that are executive ability and leadership qualities in your makeup.

A birthday on day 1 of any month gives a measure of will power and self-confidence, and very often a rather original approach.

This 1 energy may diminish your ability and desire to handle details, preferring instead to paint with a broad brush.

You may be sensitive, but your feelings stay rather repressed.

Monday, April 25

Anzac Biscuits

It's Anzac Day today, so I thought I'd share a recipe for Anzac biscuits with you.

I would be making these today, if I had any coconut in the house.

Anzac Biscuits


1 cup (90g) rolled oats

1 cup (150g) plain flour

1 cup (200g) firmly packed brown sugar

½ cup (45g) desiccated coconut

125g butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

1 tablespoon water

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda


Combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut in large bowl.

Combine butter, golden syrup and the water in small saucepan.
Stir constantly over medium heat until butter is melted; stir in soda.
Stir mixture into dry ingredients.
Place rounded teaspoons of mixture 5cm apart on lightly greased oven trays; bake in moderately slow oven about 20 minutes or until biscuits feel slightly firm.
Use spatula to loosen biscuits on trays; cool on trays.
Biscuits can be eaten as soon as they have cooled.
Biscuits can be stored in airtight containers a week or frozen for up to 2 months.

Sunday, April 24

it seemed like a good idea at the time.....

I thought I would change the blog template.

It is not cooperating with me. This will do for now.

Thursday, April 21


I’ve just had another quick look at the photos I posted, particularly this one:

I couldn’t work out what the thing in the lower left corner was.

I thought about it for a while. It’s my Felix the Cat t-shirt. That I’m wearing.
It would seem that I have, inadvertently, shown you all a picture of what my grandma would call “my bosom area”. I was holding the camera at arms length, trying to capture the splendor of the sewing room and the angle caught more than I bargained for.

2 Posted by Hello

This will cheer Diane up immensely

I am not a neat person. I don't aspire to be one either. I might make an effort if someone is visiting and do some cursory tidying, vacuum, etc, but I don't go overboard. And the first thing I say to people when they walk in the house is "Ignore the mess". Our house is lived in, it is not a showpiece for the occasional visitor.

I share a house with my sister, and we have 1 son each. So we combined 2 households into one, and even though the house is a reasonable size, we have two (or more) of everything. So it is jam packed everywhere, and we have barely enough room to get cars in the garage. We have 4 bedrooms upstairs, and as Nick has his space downstairs, we have a spare room up here, where we keep our sewing stuff. Here it is:

This is from the doorway, see the 2 overlockers? I can't take credit for everything in here, but those 2 stacks of plastic bins in the far corner contain some of my fabric. There's more downstairs that I can't be arsed carrying up. And there's nowhere to put it anyway.

The other side of the room, with obligatory nosy cat. Don't let the can of furniture polish on the window sill fool you, I only polish furniture when I move house. It's been there since July last year.

And this USED to be my sewing space - not really a room, but squeezed into what used to be a patio on the front of the lounge room. Not roomy, but very handy to my recliner, where I seem to spend most of my time. Please note the overflowing bin in the corner, and the 2 week old newspaper sitting on the table. And the obligatory cat, sleeping on my little ironing board. The walls are all glass - windows up top, patterned underneath. Hot in summer and cold in winter.

I don't iron clothes - I have spent many years buying clothes that need no ironing, so I am free to use the ironing board for other purposes. See the lovely pile of crap on the floor?

This is the same space now. Apparently my sister decided that my desk and all my study area was not a good use of the dining room space, so she helpfully relocated everything to the front patio. I am NOT HAPPY. I have to contort myself in and out of my chair, which barely fits in this space (the patio has a step down from the lounge room).

My sewing machine has been put here, on a table I can't sew on:

I hate that icky amber glass in the old front door (it is non functional since the patio has been built in, and we have another front door behind it. Lazy renovators!)

The other end of the patio, with my Singer treadly serving time as a bird cage stand. And obligatory cat, going bonkers at the cat scratching pole. Luckily, they didn't choose amber glass for the patio windows - it is pale smoky instead.

I love seeing other peoples houses and work space. I am especially intrigued by basements, as they are non existent in Australia. What are they used for? Why do you have them?

Caitlin - I tried to email you but it bounced. Let me know if you want to come to a QQ gathering, I'll see you there. It's a bit of a hike from Toowoomba though. And let me know if you are able to come for the Ricky Tims seminar.

Sunday, April 17

Notes to Self:

Self, do not keep chocolate on the ADSL modem on your desk. It will melt the chocolate and you will have to wait for it to cool in the freezer before you can eat it. This is not a good thing when you are desperate for a sugar hit.

Self, when you have been asked to collect the boy from an address, make sure that he spells the street name correctly for you so you don’t have to spend 20 minutes looking at the Refidex and working out alternate spellings for the street name and checking if that version is in the right suburb.

Self, why did you choose to do a Sociology minor when you know from past experience that the subject content would make you crazy on a regular basis? You might have fluked a good result on those essays last year, but you will never be able to do it again.

Tuesday, April 12

Guild meeting

I am off to my quilt guild meeting tonight – I have to hand in my challenge quilt, otherwise I think I would just stay home. Especially since Dancing with the Stars is on TV tonight. I’ll have to tape that and watch it tomorrow.

I like being a member of the guild for a couple of reasons – access to the library, and entering shows. Quilt books are expensive in Australia (like everything else quilt related), so for the most part borrowing the books is a better option. And a lot of quilt books aren’t much chop anyway, and it is better to borrow those ones than to buy them yourself. And you have to be a member to enter the shows. I don’t really know how it works elsewhere, but here the state guilds host the biggest quilt shows, and there are a few shows put on by the smaller groups as well. I recently joined the NSW guild so I could enter their show this year.

What else about guilds? Well, I have met some nice people there. And I have encountered some not-so-nice people too. But I am starting to feel like the odd girl out – because I want to (and do) try new techniques just for fun. I don’t want to just make bed quilts, or charity quilts. There are a few “artier” type quilters, but there are also an awful lot of conservative quilters. I don’t do many of the classes – they haven’t offered anything that interests me lately. But Ricky Tims is having a seminar here in August, and I am going to that for 2 days (Lectures? I’m wagging!)

In the interest of promoting fusing techniques, I am going to take my little samples that I made a while ago. I never take show and tell. I don’t like getting up in front of everyone. Or talking in a microphone.

Sunday, April 10

Just as I suspected....

Quilting supplies are not cheap in Australia.

Currently, the exchange rate is Aus$1 = US 75 cents.

Fabric in a quilt shop generally sells for $24-26 per metre. (A metre is about 3-4 inches more than a yard) Hand dyed fabric is a least $30 a metre, usually more.

You can buy fabric cheaper than this, at Spotlight or some of the bigger retailers (there aren’t many, and none in QLD) for $10-$12 per metre. Generally the range is limited, and sometimes the quality is not great. But price does not always dictate the quality – I have paid big money for what I now think is inferior fabric (loose weave, low thread count, inaccurate printing) and on the other side I have acquired lots of fabric FOR CHEAP that has a great feel and handles beautifully. So I am not a fabric snob who thinks only “Quilt Shop” fabric is suitable for quilts. There are plenty of those (fabric/quilt snobs) around, let me tell you.

I am doing my best to spread the word about fusing quilts. It is not a widely used technique here, and a lot of people don't (/won't/can't) free motion quilt. They don't know what they are missing!

(BTW, last year at the quilt show, I was helping make Project Linus quilts. I was machine quilting for them, and people were amazed at the actual process of free motion quilting - "no, the machine doesn't "just do it", I am moving the quilt to make the pattern" became the standard answer. I think they appreciated the quilting in the show a little more having seen it being done by an actual person, and that it wasn't the result of owning fancy-schmancy sewing machines)

Guilty pleasures

This morning while I was reading the Sunday paper, I had two doughnuts with pink icing and sprinkles on them. For Breakfast. And they weren’t Weight Watcher’s doughnuts either. Because boys can’t eat PINK doughnuts, it’s not "manly"! (oh, and I let the boy eat doughnuts - the chocolate ones - for breakfast too, don’t tell anyone.)

Now, I have to start my "Bring Melody to Australia" campaign in earnest. First step - name dropping in strategic circles, i.e. the guild meeting next Tuesday.

Saturday, April 9

Things I Need to Know

I read in a comment on someone else’s blog (sorry can’t remember which one) that Wonder Under is 99 cents for, I presume, a yard of the stuff. Is that really true? Because if it is I am PEA GREEN with envy. It costs $6.50 per metre here, and because I am cheap, ummm - extremely careful with money, I don’t use it as much as I would like to.

On the subject of prices, I would also like to know how much you expect to pay for fabric in a quilt store, not the cheapest price, just the average price. (But tell me the cheapest prices too, just to make me really jealous!!) And then I will shock you with the prices of fabric here.

Do people actually use freezer paper for freezing stuff? Instead of plastic bags? Why? And tell me how much it costs in a supermarket there, because you can only buy it in quilt shops here, and it’s not cheap either.

And finally, can someone please, please tell me what the big secret is on Desperate Housewives? You will not spoil the show for me, I promise! In fact, I will enjoy it all the more knowing in advance what is going to happen.

No sewing being done by me – more essays to write, each more boring than the last. The one I am finishing today is supposed to be 1000 words, and I am expected to jam 15 references in. I am up to 9 journals so far, and I have 23 words to go to get to 1000 words. To be handed in on Monday!!

And for no particular reason, cats. I bought this cat thingummybob. The packaging assured me that it is "cat powered". They fall for it every time.

Saturday, April 2

Want to learn how to knit?

I don't know why this didn't catch on!

You can have a listen to a bit of this in Dave's record collection. This album is listed in the "for the kids" column, about two or three down.

Other gems in the collection include:

Music To Sell More Sparkplugs By

Tableau of a Bladder Operation

Take Care of Your Steinel Hairpiece

and my personal favourite - How to Marry Rich.

How do you teach a beginner?

Do you think there is a right way to teach someone how to make a quilt? Do you show them all the “right” methods, or do you give them the benefit of your experience and show them straight to the time saving, easy ways of doing things?

I have a friend who is fairly new to quilting, and is in the process of making a quilt each for her grandchildren. She has many years of sewing and craft experience, and I have helped her to complete 3 or 4 quilts, so she is not a total novice. And I love encouraging people to quilt because I find it so rewarding and I want other people to have the same experience. So my friend went off to do some beginner classes at a local quilt shop – learning how to draft blocks, and how to put the whole quilt together from beginning to end. I think she enjoyed the class, but I’ve been a bit concerned at the “teaching” process. One of the blocks she made was of a sail boat, and she wanted to appliqué some little people (printed on the fabric) onto the boat. This was out of class time, on her own, before the next class was due. I tell her “It’s your quilt, do as you like”. And then she was telling me how the teacher wouldn’t like that she had done the appliqués, and they were only supposed to piece the blocks, and nothing else. Subversive that I am, I helped her to fuse the little people on and gave her advice on how to stitch them down. Off she went, happy, and finished the block as she wanted to.

When the top was finished, they moved on to machine quilting. Having a little bit of experience in the area, I have definite preferences and ways of doing things that make my life easier. Like avoiding where possible having to turn a big quilt under the needle. Not always possible, but I manage to avoid this most of the time. The quilt top my friend made was single bed size, so it’s big enough to be bulky under the arm of the machine. This was a simple sampler type quilt – 12 inch blocks and 3 inch sashing, in a straight grid layout. I would have done all the ditch stitching by sewing down the side of the blocks, finishing, then skip over the sashing to the next block and starting again. And the same for the other 3 sides. No turning! A bit of thread snipping, but I can live with that.

Well, they didn’t get taught an easy way, they were told – and expected – to turn the quilt under the machine. And, to secure threads they were told to leave the ends long, don’t reverse stitch, then when all the quilting is finished get a needle and sew the ends into the back of the quilt. And I have another friend who was taught the same thing. I set her straight very quickly.

Now keep in mind, these quilts are not intended as show winning masterpieces, my friends quilt is for a child and will receive lots of wear and tear. I think if I had been taught this way, I would have been discouraged from continuing. I know that sewing the ends back in is probably the “Best” way of securing the ends, but it is a time consuming, fiddly method. And I think learning a range of ways to do things allows you to then choose what works best for you in a particular situation. I know I do things differently for a show entry than I would on a child’s quilt.

So which is best? Learn “proper” patchwork and quilting techniques and then learn the easy ways to do the same thing? Or simply learn the easy methods to start with?

PS – I also told my friend that she could put her binding on before all the quilting was finished, and do more quilting afterwards. And how to get a perfectly mitred binding every single time. No doubt the teacher won't like that either.