Thursday 30 December 2010

The Charm of Old Things

Aren’t the days flying by quickly? It’s just about New Year’s Eve and I haven’t even finished clearing up from Christmas…

I admit that I am the kind of person who becomes distracted when sorting through things. I might be clearing out a box of fabric….then I find a print I was looking for a few months ago…and that gets me started on returning to my idea….and before I know it, I’ve started another WIP.

This year I ‘found’ some long lost (but not sorely missed as I actually forgot they existed) cutlery as well as another box of Christmas Tree lights that I knew were somewhere…but couldn’t find them when we needed them. That will be useful next year.

In amongst the sorting through, I got to the back of the tea towel shelf and found our favorite apron. We have a lot of aprons in my house, but the most charming has to be this one. Isn’t it just the real thing?

My DDs always negotiate over who will wear it when we get Christmas or Easter baking as it has a special ‘something’ about it.

 I purchased the fabric and sewed this apron up 35 years ago. No pattern of course. You didn’t use patterns to make your aprons 35 years ago – you just did it.

This ‘kitchen dress’ has seen a lot of action and has endured thousands of washes – look at the color. Can you imagine that it was even brighter than that 35 years ago? It must have been neon! I dearly wish I had a photo of me in it all those years ago to compare.

Saturday 25 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

As it's Christmas,
I thought I would share this festive link

 It is a Russian production, however no language is used so don't let that stop you enjoying it.
The detail is simply lovely, it's a pleasure to watch and is suitable for children.

I am not usually keen on animation, but this one is so charming

Part 1: 7 minutes

Part 2: 7 minutes

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Wow! Cherry Thieves Wins

Fall Quilter's Choice Contest

What a great honor - Cherry Thieves has been chosen by TQS members and has received 2nd place in the Fall Contest. I feel so privileged! The quilts entered alongside mine were stunning... so I am completely taken aback!

It means so much to be selected by other members. When you design from your own sketches you have no way of knowing if your designs and creativity 'speak to' others. Such positive feedback is always welcome!

Congratulations to dcrine who won first place with Autumn Birch and in third place was: Loving Nature by dreamquilter

A special thank you to Heather from my Yahoo Bom Group for alerting me to the fact that I had won. I didn't know! I was busy stenciling....

This is an extra special surprise because I also came 2nd in the Spring Viewers Choice as well earlier in the year.  Next year: Summer and Winter! (just joking)

Do visit the Quilt Show's blog HERE

Christmas Biscuit Presses

Christmas baking always gets me thinking about baking tools. With our 1950's Kenwood Cake Mixer (passed down from a dear friend) in the repair shop, my DDs and I had to modify some of our baking plans.

I am glad to report that the Mixer is in good hands and was told by the repairman that they don't make them like this anymore. How true. I think it's the same with sewing machines as well. I do almost all my sewing on a 1950's Husquarna and Elna. For decorative stitching over applique I move to my DDs Brother which has some lovely embellishments... Actually, my first ever posting on this blog discussed my desire for a new sewing machine with all it's improvements... and my longing for quality and durability you can only get when machines were actually made to last a woman her lifetime. They just don't make them like that anymore!

Going through our drawers of baking tools I marvelled a little that we are still using the same nut grinder I purchased over 30 years ago. You can see by the colour that it's a genuine vintage!

Each year when we pull out the box of decorations and Chritsmassy things, I always find something I had forgot about and the memories of so many past Christmases come flooding back.

30 years ago I was living in Hamburg and I had an 8 week old baby when I went out and purchased this Biscuit Press.

How can I be so sure? I taped the receipt inside the box! It cost, I cant remember if that was expensive or not...what I do know is that I used the biscuit press over many many years.

Last year my youngest DD snapped the lever hinge, however if she hadn't I have no doubt that it would have been in service for another 30 years.

It seems naive and fanciful to expect anything to last that long nowadays.

The Biscuit Press we replaced it with last year, at
AU 49.95 (overpriced), appears to be fancier. It has it's own box and is sleek in black and silver. It works just fine but it doesn't have the charm the Gerda one had.

The real test however is in the 'insider' recipe. The Gerda recipe for the biscuit dough is excellent, whereas my new biscuit press' recipe tastes oily and is not pleasant at all. I struck it out immediately once I had made a batch. That is such a shame for I think a lot of women will be turned off this tool if they only ever try the recipe enclosed and recommended.

I have been asked a few times for the recipe I use in my biscuit press biscuits, so here it is:

Vanilla Biscuits 
180gm butter
100 gm sugar
Tablespoon Vanilla extract
2 eggs
250gm flour
80 gms finely ground walnuts or almonds
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and spices. Sift in the flour, fold in the nut meal.
Refrigerate for 1 hour. 
Press onto non greased trays. Bake for 10 minutes at a moderate oven of about 180c-200c

Something interesting about this press is that all the discs in the new model are exactly the discs available in the Gerda 30 years ago. They must all be made at the same place!

This year I have started making an effort to write down recipes that I watched my mother and other women bake so that I can pass it on to my DDs.

Cooking seems to be very fashionable at the moment, and it seems to me that lot of traditional recipes have been tweaked so much that it is hard to get the real thing when you go looking for it.

Also, there are recipes which I always had in my head and knew off by heart....which I have now forgotten ...and a few that I have misplaced.
One of these was Bear Paws.

Luckily for me, Radka made a batch over on her blog and I am so delighted that she has shared the recipe as I have been meaning to hunt it down and make some for a few years now. How kind and generous. Thank you Radka!

It's only a few days now until Christmas. I really feel for all the people stuck in queues, stuck in airports, away from home, and of course, for all the people literally left out in the cold.

It's warming up again here with a forecast of 28c for Christmas Day. I can't complain as it has been unseasonably cool this December and I don't like freezing temperatures either.

Something that I am taking back this Christmas is time. No wasted time in car parks, in shopping centres, in the post office, in the bank. No, we are having a simple Christmas. After all, I can shop and queue anytime of the year.
I am taking it easy, doing things around the home, stenciling a quilt for my DDs birthday which is straight after Christmas and tomorrow I plan on baking stollen and potica with my DDs. I know, I am leaving it a little late. But after all, what's the hurry?

Sunday 19 December 2010

2 days at Harvest Textiles

I wanted cold weather...and it's arrived. Today has been chilly and rainy and I have been cosy indoors, crocheting my ripple afghan. Yes, I'm still working on it, inch by inch...

It's been a warm and slow weekend....which is very different to last weekend, because last weekend I attended a screen printing workshop.

This is my design - I sketched it during the workshop and came up with a folky bird pattern.

I’m always encouraging others to try something new (especially stenciling), and something I have wanted to try for a long time has been screen printing. One way or another, I never got around to it.

Well, that all changed last week.
I found a great looking workshop ...and to my surprise (and thanks to my active morning’s blogging) it was in my own city! ...and the next workshop was just days away.

Now, December is not the ideal time to start a new interest, especially not for me - but I couldn’t wait any longer so off I went…
What did I learn? I thought I had a pretty good idea of what screen printing involved, but soon discovered that I knew very little about it. It just goes to show that
you don’t know until you do 
You need strong arms! No, not really, but it does help if you have some upper body strength- it’s more physically involved than I expected and I was puffed out at the end of the 2 days.

Screen printing is an interesting technique that can accommodate a whole range of styles. I really enjoyed the workshop and I learnt a lot.
Actually I’ve been so keen to screen print for a while that a couple of years ago I purchased a ‘home size’ screen printing kit and one huge advantage is that I can now use it with complete confidence.

It is small, but both my DDs have expressed a desire to screen print tea towels (I don’t know about your kitchen, but we can never have too many) so that will be a fun long afternoon at some time in the future.

A definite advantage is that, like stenciling, you create your own design -so your end product is original. I love any technique that encourages you to produce your own style and put your own hand to use and screen printing definitely does.

I can see how effective screen printing would be in application for curtains, screens, etc.

As for quilts, well…..I still favor stenciling…but….I can see the possibilities in printing fabrics, panels and repetitions.
I’ve still got some ideas up my sleeve, so I am eagerly waiting for the day when Harvest Textiles opens it’s doors to previous students for studio space to screen print. I’ll be there!

 Have you tried stenciling?

or screen printing?

I had a great time and I recommend Harvest Textiles to anyone wanting to learn this technique. You can visit their website here:  Harvest textiles

Friday 17 December 2010

In The Print!

 2011 is nearly here and my diary fell apart in October from over use. Luckily I hadn't got around to buying a new one when yesterday - this diary arrived (unexpectedly) in my mail box!

This was a good surprise in a hectic week.

I was very happy indeed... because my quilt Midnight Garden is a featured page pic for Sept/Oct

I get especially excited when my quilts are published because usually, the magazine photo ends up being the best photo that I have of them on record. I have always thought that I should have my quilt collection professionally photographed and this is something I would love to do but have not been able to justify the expense. Oh well, I will have to start making my quilts more photo friendly!

I have discovered that I love to make 'difficult to photo' quilts with hues that don't do themselves justice on film. And then of course, there's always the red/white quilt dilemma because red and white quilts rarely photograph 'true' in my experience. And I do love red and white.

What's a quilter to do??

I finally got around to purchasing The Australian Patchwork & Quilters Magazine Vol 19 No 10 (November) which features a Showcase Special. It's great to look back after showcase and have another look at the quilts you admired during the show.

This year I have been privileged enough to have Sunshine & Shadow featured and I am so glad.

A few people had told me it was published (thank you) but I have been avoiding the shops so only got my copy yesterday. My DH had to visit 3 newsagents and then purchased the last 2 copies on shelf. It was in a wrapped cover and he couldn't flick through to find me, so we exchanged several no not that one conversations as he couldn't understand why there were so many different quilting magazines on the market?? Anyone??

Once again, I love the photo. The colours are spot on and the quilt is straight. Perfect.
Many thanks to Marni Franks for the write up.

In baking news, the weather will be cool all week so it is back on the agenda. I love my Christmas baking with my 2 DDs. As they get older I really enjoy myself more and it now involves me looking on with a cup of coffee and offering yeast advise rather than getting stuck in. It's a nice stage.

Just in the last week I have been made aware of a few copyright issues and upsets that have arisen from completely different sources and groups.  Looking on objectively, I think it's interesting that completely unconnected people can have very similar ideas. (I'm talking about 'ideas' here, not design theft). Any reader of this blog will know how strongly I feel about upholding and maintaining Copyright - even though I offer work for free. Originality matters.

On a different note, isnt it interesting when you think about something for a while...and then you start noticing it everywhere? I have been interested in floriography for a long time and have just designed a floriography themed quilt (more on that next year...) All of a sudden, I am finding floriography articles everywhere! Is it just me, or is it coming into fashion again? I hope so. But more interestingly - was I inspired / influenced unknowingly by an upcoming trend....or have enough people randomly taken an interest in it for it to become a trend? Just a thought...

Wednesday 15 December 2010

O Christmas Tree

 It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

It's almost Christmas, the house smells of fresh pine and the decorations are up. This year, the poinsettias are looking a bit tired, so for the first time I don't have one on my table yet. I do miss them, but was happy to find ruby silk peonies (above) I think they are beautiful and I have a whole vase full.

This is our cat, pretending not to notice our tree .
Whenever we are near, she assumes this 'position'

What Tree?

...and then nibbles the branches and attacks our baubles!

We have had to 'anchor' our tree into position so it won't come down when she tries to climb it
(which she has already attempted twice)

We've had unusual weather this, hot and then cool again. Today we are expecting thunderstorms and 30 degrees c.

It's too steamy for any serious Christmas baking at the moment, I hope it cools again so that I can get a few batches of peaches and a few other goodies baked next week. I have decided not to bake if it is too warm as cakes flop, yeast doesn't rise nicely, biscuits stale and things just don't turn out. This is so frustrating as I have so many great recipes perfect for this time of year...oh well, I will wait and see.

Do you Christmas Bake or Buy?

Friday 10 December 2010

New Fabrics

Now is the time of year when, as well as finishing some WIPs (as the mood strikes me), I am also full steam ahead for next year's new BOM.

Each BOM takes months to plan, prepare and test. So, at this stage of development, new fabric is needed.

You know I love stash busting, but I also have to take into account what's new and what could be worked in with existing stash bundles (that we all have and want to use). And of course, new fabric is inspiring, and helps me feel motivated to finish!

At this stage of design, I always look at fresh fabric designs to see what will work with my own sketches and vision for the next quilt.

I'm super excited about the next BOM...I think it will be the best one yet...and I'm pretty excited about these fabrics too...

 a few vibrant greens ...
 my new fusible batting and some Kaffe inspiration
(for my coffee breaks)
fabric that wants to be put to use!
 some backgrounds
 some zingers...maybe

Two liberty prints in green. I ordered these because I am planning on making myself a green shirt, but can't decide between the two.

The last one looks very Christmas ferny, so I probably won't go with it...but who knows ...
 interesting accents...

Ah December, a month of endings and beginnings....
before I stop for the year to wind down and appreciate just how special Christmas is, I have so much to do. I am pacing myself and hope to get over my list of WIPs to finish by the end of next week.

Wish me luck!

Friday 3 December 2010

An Applique Wedding Block

This is a block I made a short while ago for a wedding block. The idea being that I received the fabric in the post and, along with members in my quilting friendship group, we each created a different block using the same fabrics. This is the block I made.

I love an excuse to stop whatever I'm doing and create something new
(which may explain why I have so many WIPs, however as this was 01 block, I am glad to advise that I did finish it in one sitting!)

Here are my sketches and rule up
A heart theme was chosen (of course!)...
 Testing the pattern and deciding on which fabric where...
Creating the pattern ...

the finished block design...
this pic looks a little gray, but it is green in real life
centre detail...
Heart detail

I am eager to see the finished quilt with all the finished's still early days but when I have a picture to share, I will post it here.

Saturday 27 November 2010

a 6 inch heart

The best portion of a good man's life - his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love. ~William Wordsworth

Can you spare the time to make a heart block?

You may be aware that New Zealand has suffered a major mining disaster at Pike River mine on the west coast of the South Island, resulting in the deaths of 29 miners.

Shirley Goodwin is calling on quilters from anywhere to send her a heart block: she is collecting these blocks and will make quilts to give to the miners' families.

Here are the block details if you want to make some:-

Cream background – calico is fine
6 ½” unfinished size (so they will be 6” finished)
Pieced or appliqu├ęd heart or hearts
Any colours or patterns for the hearts. Some of the quilts will be for children, so children’s fabrics are fine too.

Friday 26 November 2010

Some Yarn Shopping

The hunt for subtle colour tones in 100% wool - preferably coned, continues. I have been lucky to receive some suggestions already and the options so far have been great. It's something I will be looking into when I start my next afghan.

Now that I only have to join my last flowery afghan, I am missing my 'motif a day' spot. Something I have on my crochet To Do list has been a granny square sampler. A blanket full of granny square motifs....bliss! I am planning on 100 different blocks repeated 2 or 3 times ...depending on size. But what colour and what yarn?

For the blocks themselves, I will be looking through my crochet bookshelf and making up whatever catches my eye. It's such a shame to keep those blocks in a book!

Inspired by the quilting fabric Plume (right) I used the colour matching orbs on the selvedge and managed to find all the colours! Unbelieveable! The photo really doesn't do the colours justice, the pinks look reddish here. I can tell you it looks gorgeous in real life! I can't wait to get started.
Unfortunately I went to get my yarn at Spotlight. I'd forgotten how awful shopping there is (its been so long since my last visit). I don't know why I put myself through that disorganised, messy and understaffed torture. Obviously the store is busy unpacking Christmas things and making every effort to punish customers for trying to shop there with boxes strewn in walkways, passage sized trolleys parked in front of shelving rows, ridiculous queues and price check points "missing" from their towers with wires hanging out so that they look like vandalised phone booths. But the fun didn't stop there, once I'd made it to the checkout - the yarn scanned in at the wrong price..... hopefully I wont need to go back for a loooooong time.
This is something I picked up at Spotlight. It's a foam wreath. I have an end of year Festive Project I am making up at the moment that I plan to decorate it with some crochet. The price says it is zero dollars, and it's worth about that much - but it is selling for $6.50 which I think is seriously overpriced...and if I didn't need it to finish my 'idea' I would have left it behind. Oh well....

It's a good size for a door and I still have enough time to get it up before December. I also found a cute pack of bells in red and gold which I might place on the wreath as well. I will keep you posted.

After two hots days and feeling like my plans for Christmas baking were over, and feeling too hot and bothered to do anything's cooled down and we've had some rain. Rainy enough for puddles and thoughts of steaming hot coffee and crochet in my tub chair.

It feels very unseasonal at the moment.

My succulents are thriving and seem to be OK despite the sudden changes in temperature.

Look at that pink!

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