Rain and its effects

Saturday, March 24, 2012
We've had lots of rain lately in South East Queensland. Buckets and buckets of it actually!  Over the last couple of months I think we've averaged about one morning a week being able to go on our before-Breakfast walk. With the warm climate we live in and so much rain, everything grows fast.  The lily pily hedges needed trimming again:

 The grass needed mowing ... and the weeds just about took over the yard - along the fences, in the paths, in the vege garden and especially in the cactus garden:

As soon as there was some sunshine, my husband tackled the lawns and the hedges and it was up to me to deal with the weeds. There were far too many to dig out manually, so I resorted to some very safe weed-killer spray. Now I was aware that in the past we had had to share the cactus garden with a colony of paper wasps. I had 'despatched' their nest some months ago before the grandchildren came to visit, but I still stepped into the garden warily - not only to avoid the thorns, but with an eye out for any new nests that might have been built.  There were none to be seen so I advanced with my spray to reach all those weeds.  You guessed it - there was a nest hidden in there and I was attacked - three wasps swooped simultaneously and got me on my arm before I had a chance to retreat.  The bite isn't really too bad if you get some anti-sting cream on it straight away, but the worst part is that over the next few days a large area around the bites became inflamed, hard and manically itchy! I'm still scratching (or trying not to!) 5 or 6 days later.  And to add insult to injury, what started out as a lovely sunny day, suddenly became overcast and next thing it was raining again, long before the 6 hours of dry weather that the spray needed, was up.  It was light rain, so I'm really hoping that maybe I won't have to face the wasps again and the spray might work!

The rain is a good excuse to stay inside and do lots of stitching.  My Stitch and Sew machine cover is back from the publisher and looks good on my sewing machine. As I use my machine so often, I tend to leave it up instead of having it closed away in its cabinet, so it is nice to have a cover over it to protect it from the dust.

I was really attracted to this fabric with its lovely flowers and birds. The pink and pale blue really stand out against the brown background. You can find the pattern (with instructions on how to customise it to fit your own machine) in Patchwork & Stitching Vol 13 No 1.

Remember the fabric I used for the Consider the Lilies quilt?  It's the Rue Saint Germaine range by Robyn Pandolph. I had purchased a set of fat quarters, plus bought some yardages in various colours so that I had fabric for borders. I have made a couple of projects from the range since then.  This small wall quilt will be in Country Threads magazine next month:

I figured I had enough fabric over to make a quilt to cover our half-size pool table.  Out with the graph paper and another wet afternoon was spent cutting out all the pieces.  I still have to design the applique blocks but the hard yakka (Australian for 'hard work') is done.

And speaking of the "Consider the Liles" quilt, Dianne F has shared this photo of her lovely version: 

The colours blend beautifully, don't they?

Keep the photos coming - I love to see what you have done with my patterns.

Happy stitching!

It's all about the colour!

Saturday, March 17, 2012
This week has been one that probably shouldn't be talked about!  Working on a couple of thousands of pages of manuscript was not on the "to do" list, but that's how the week panned out.  After a few frustrating days, my husband and I yesterday decided to take advantage of a little break in the wet weather to go bushwalking before breakfast.  We live quite close to an environmental reserve, 26 hectares of lovely Australian bush with myriads of walking tracks and sitting right on Moreton Bay. It's one of our favourite local places and we try to go there once a week.

We've had plenty of grey skies and life has been rather on the grey side sitting at a computer manipulating pages of text, so it was wonderful to get some colour back into life!  As soon as we arrived, we saw one of these:

 A pale-headed rosella. The blue and yellow back and firey red tummy is just a gorgeous mix of colour - good quilt colours.

It wasn't long before one of these robins came out to greet us:

 They make an amazing splash of colour hopping from the ground to their favourite spot on the side of a tree trunk.

Then we saw a flash of tan in the sunshine as the Rufous Fantails displayed their beautiful rich brown colour:

And even the usually drab waders excited us.  They are all colouring up into their reddish breeding colours before they soon take off on their 12,000 km journey back to Siberia, Mongolia, China, Japan and Alaska. It was very refreshing and lovely to have colour in our world again.

The latest issue of Australian Country Craft & Decorating arrived in the mail this week. It has some colour in it too - some ruby red silk:

This is my Roses are Red pincushion and scissor keep - bulliion roses, beading, cord and a lovely centre rose.  I was thinking 'elegant' when I designed this one.

As there's been very little stitching done this week, I will show you someone else's lovely work!  I recently received back from sweet Dawn, my quilt which I had sent to have professionally quilted.

 I was delighted with the all-over rose design that Dawn quilted for me. Do you recognise the fabric?  It's the Scarborough Fair range I have used for the Thoughts in Thread free quilt pattern.  I have actually also used the dove design from that quilt around the centre, but I'll show you that another time.

Lovely soft, romantic, peaceful colours. Just what I need this week!

Happy stitching!

Free Pattern Thoughts in Thread - Block 3

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Another month has come around and it's time to give you Block 3 in the Thoughts in Thread quilt. This month we're focussing on noble or honourable thoughts. When we moved into our new home, I planted a lemon tree in a very large pot.  It's only been in there about a year but already it has a lemon on it. It's doing exactly what it is supposed to -  producing lemons! It's doing the noble, honourable thing! So my lemon tree got to be featured in this month's block:

and here's the block with a little bit of simple piecing to complete it:

You can download block 3 as usual from my website.

 Don't forget to upload photos of your completed blocks to my Flickr site. We all love looking at what you have done with the blocks.

I was very disciplined last week and wrote up the patterns for the two projects that hadn't been done. Having projects accepted for publication is a good incentive to get all the paper work organised! Three projects went off  to editors on Friday and one was to a magazine where I have never had anything published before, so that made me happy.  

I showed this little sneak peak of one of the projects on my Facebook page.  My love of the Victorian era took over and I went all out with embroidery, silk ribbon, rayon and silk threads and beads on this design:

I've put a couple of new patterns on my website.  They are a couple of my stitching accessories that were in Australian magazines a few months ago. If you live overseas and don't have access to our Australian craft magazines, you may be interested in them. You will remember my little Busy Bees Pincushion:

 You can find it here.

And below is my Trail of Roses scissor pillow.  It's a great little accessory and helps ensure you never lose your embroidery scissors. They are attached to the pillow with the twisted cord and sit in the pocket for safe keeping. 

 This pattern is available here.

With finishing the three projects for magazines last week, it means I've reduced the number of things I'm working on at the moment to just three. One is finishing a quilt which has come back from being professionally quilted.  It's all ready for the binding to be handsewn down, but it has been too hot and sticky to have a quilt near my lap, so it is draped over the lounge and I just enjoy looking at the lovely fabric and gorgeous quilting. Then I have another embroidery project on the go and a country style wall hanging full of applique. It has lots of detail and, as you know, I do "fiddly", so I'm having lots of fun stitching this one. I am using my "Dove technique" quite a bit for the applique and it is coming up a treat. Some sneak peaks another time!

Hope you have a great week of stitching.

Churning them out

Saturday, March 3, 2012
The last couple of weeks have been fairly free of interruptions, so I've been churning out plenty of designs.  Most of them have been floating around in my head for ages.  There were so many ideas in there, that I wrote a list so I could get some sort of order in which to tackle them. Housework hasn't been high on the list, but I did preserve another lot of peaches, cleaned the oven and made a batch of sweet orange marmalade in between the projects.

My husband was quite shocked to find me sitting in the recliner in the family room in the afternoon happily stitching. I normally reserve that luxury for the evening in front of the tele and do the planning, cutting and machining during the day. My excuse is that now that autumn is here, the sun comes into my sewing room in the afternoon and the weather has been too hot for comfort ... and, truth is, some of the designs were turning out so sweetly, that I just couldn't keep away from them!

The first one to get out onto fabric was a little country-style stitchery which was quickly snaffled up by an editor who had an opening for just such a design.

Can you imagine how much fun I had with this one?

Another magazine was looking for a vintage-style stitchery. I couldn't get out of my head the thoughts of roses, swirls and vintage lace:

I like to think that I have fairly good 'resistability'.  I can walk into a fabric shop, go Oooh and Aaah down all the aisles and not buy a thing ... well, maybe only a little bit.  However, if there's some Japanese fabric there, I'm a goner!  There's something about the opulence, the gold, the richness of the colours, the oriental design, that I find totally irresistable. I've had some gorgeous fabric sitting in the cupboard screaming out "Make me", but I didn't have the fabric I needed to accompany it.  On our recent babysitting trip to another city, I finally found the fabric I needed. I had JUST enough fabric to make the bed runner and cushion I had planned:

Only the Japanese can design fabric like that!

Now, the only problem is, that I broke my rule - twice.  I started another design before I had written up the pattern for the previous one!  Two patterns to write up - not something to look forward to with excitement!

As I explained earlier, it is Autumn in Australia - not that we get a proper autumn here in the subtropics.  There are no leaves turning gold, no drop in temperature, and thankfully for me, none of the dread that I used to face when we lived in a much cooler climate, that winter was on its way. You can see that I am totally a summer person.  In spite of that, it is nice to pretend, so a few months ago I made a little wall-hanging about Autumn. 

It is in Vol 12, No 12 issue of Patchwork & Stitching magazine:

And as if there weren't enough photos in this post already, these are to show you why I love wrens so much.  These two species are the ones found in our local area:

Red-backed Fairywren

Variegated Fairy-wren.

Gorgeous, aren't they?

And don't forget my Lilac Love Workshop starting on Tuesday over at http://patchworkposse.com/

Now I had better go and write up those patterns AND prepare the next block in the Thoughts in Thread quilt so it is ready for you next week.

Happy stitching!