Wednesday 27 April 2011

Lavendar Wands for Spring

When I first posted about my bees and lavender shrub, most of you were in Winter, so I decided to re-post my lavender wands when you were entering spring. Early spring is the best time to make Lavender wands – and they are so easy, it’s likely to become a pluck and weave affair every time you pass your shrub.

Making them up when the lavender is new is best because the stems are so soft and flexible. If you look closely at my pics you will see that my stems have no flexibility left in them at all, they are basically forced into position – this is because there is no moisture left in them. Early Spring and Young Lavender is the best combination and easier to shape.

It’s so simple!

Collect a bunch of lavender.
Make your first attempt a small bunch.

Strip the leaves off the stem so that the stem is naked

Tie your ribbon just below the head of flowers, tightly.

Now, holding the lavender in your fist, close your fist and bend down the stems over the lavender flowers, so you are creating a ‘cage’

Now, simply weave over and under. Pull through your tied ribbon end and start weaving. You can weave over and under individual stems or group your stems and weave over and under lots of 2 or 3 stems. With the larger sized lavender wands, I just weaved stems as I liked.

When you reach the end of the flower cage, wind your ribbon down the stem and tightly knot and tie off. Use any width of ribbon you like, I like wide ribbon but its all down to preference. With the stripped stems and discarded bits, I collect them into organza bags for keeping amongst my linen.

Oh Spring!

Thursday 21 April 2011

Golden Rabbit

This is Golden Rabbit, he's my Easter Afternoon Project.
This pattern is so simple, it's a pleasure to make and really, it only takes an afternoon.

I don’t usually associate bunnies with Easter, however, I sketched this rabbit (he’s more of a hare, isn’t he?) a few years ago, and I’ve been wanting to make him up. So here he is: bright, vibrant and dancing through a meadow. The meadow side of spring.

If you’ve been thinking about an easy Easter project to brighten up your table, there’s still time to get this one done.

The pattern is a line drawing and is suitable for a small wall hanging. I’m going to hang mine up on the kitchen entry door. My DDs like the idea of turning it into a spring cushion and whilst that would work, I think a wall hanging wins. Of course, if you added sides you could also make a table runner, whatever suits you. It’s so versatile. My only recommendation is brights. I haven’t stitched in my sleeve hanging yet as I wanted to post this project right now, but I will be adding a hanging sleeve to finish it off.  Of course, you could just print it out and colour it in too!

Here I am, looking over my table, I stash busted this pattern,
and it feels so good to have used up some fabric and created / finished a WIP.

 Here are the fabrics I selected to use and also, the front page of the pattern.
I coloured it in to play around with colours and you can too.
I also added an extra flower when making up as three is always better than two!
He's so bright! I really like how the leaves have turned out

Now, although my head is in Spring, in my part of the world, we are actually getting cooler. It's funny, but I still relate to European weather! I think many of my blog followers are in Spring, so it's  OK, I can get away with it! 
Like it? Make it!
When this pattern was first released in 2011, I made it free to all members of my online quilting group at that time. Today, it is no longer available for free, however you can purchase the pattern for $2.95 USD as an instant digital download. 

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Potica for Easter

They say it takes a village of woman to make Potica and if you ever make this Slovenian walnut roll, you’ll find out why.

It’s time consuming. It seems incredible that such a simple cake could warrant so much work, but worth it? Oh yes, definitely. Special occasions don’t seem really special without Potica on the cake plate. That said, you don’t really need a reason to bake it– any day’s a good day for Potica.

I don’t have a village of women, but I do have 2 daughters and excellent delegation skills. No matter how many times I have made it in the past, or make it with them now, they always ask those little details that you forget (or, that they don’t write down). So this is one of those recipes I know they’ll be looking up tomorrow, next week and in years to come. There are quite a few Potica variations out there, all as good as the next one, I’m sure. This is an authentic recipe. It’s an old one and it works for me.

Potica is best the second day, if it lasts that long, and improves with age for up to 4 weeks in an airtight container.

I took step by step photos of our Potica baking for my DDs and have slotted it together in the video below. The added Polka music is traditional Slovene music for anyone who wants to get into an Alpine Baking Theme... enjoy!

Click read more for detailed recipe...

Saturday 16 April 2011

Inside My Studio

Update 19th April 2011

Thank you everyone for commenting on this post. It's nice to know that someone understands my chaos and creative mess. For years I felt guilty about not having a 'Showroom Studio' know the kind...and I always wished I'd had the inclination to create that kind of photogenic space.

I'm really fortunate to have such a great DH and a supportive family, and as for the mess - I've decided that that's just the debris creativity comes from.

Time for my yearly studio pics update.

I had grand ideas about sorting this mess out before Easter, but have now accepted that this won’t be happening.

I have actually reached the point where I have had to pause WIPs because there’s just no room to carry on with them.

A good Spring Clean for me is when I can see my table top surface again.

It’s a great design table and I have a lot of things going on there. I think this is actually my biggest dilemma, at any time I have at least 3 or 4 projects out, demanding attention. I long for the day when I whittle my UFOs and WIPs to 1 single project and breeze around my studio without walking into, over or on something.

 This is my Hearts Desire Chair, before that it was my Red Delicious Chair.
Really, it's the Current BOM Chair. It Seats the Box that holds all the fabrics I will be using.

That shelf behind me was actually custom made for the Design Table.
It is so crammed full of work that I have been considering some kind of File System

You can’t tell that this is actually a large room (it’s a full size living room) with windows along one side. Great for daylight, but something of a storage loss (that’s what I tell my family anyway.)

Those are my shelves on the wall, full of journals, notebooks and sketchings.

Sometimes you don’t know how much you have, and it takes a photo to realize that you don’t really need a new 3 tiered box of Derwent’s,  anyway, where would I fit them in order to make best use of them?

That's my chair by the window, I crochet there whilst looking over the birds or the Camellia bush. Mostly I read in this spot. It looks cozy but it doesn't get used much. Well, not that much, it is a working room afterall!

To be completely honest, even I am a little shocked with how much stuff I have and how out of control it looks! Is it any wonder both my DDs are keen on minimalism??

Luckily this room's completely at the back of my house so we don’t have to walk through it, or even acknowledge it.

My grown up DDs have dreams of building me a shed to move all the stuff into there…whilst I have dreams of them both moving out so I can take over their rooms….just kidding!

Beneath the Design Table is where I store a lot of my fabric stash.

 There's a machine under there! I think it's an overlocker!

Sometimes I like to listen / watch out of the corner of my eye/  to The Quilt Show when I'm working. When I'm seriously working, I don't like the distraction, but when I am tidying up or sorting out it's a welcome relief.
Yes, this room’s a mess, but it’s my mess and I know where everything is…and also, it saves the house. Imagine all this (important!) stuff being dispersed throughout a house?? I'm so lucky that my family are tolerant and in fact, supportive of this chaos.

Thursday 14 April 2011

Come along to Vic Quilters at AQC Today!

Coming along to AQC today?

Julie Adamson and Vic. Quilters have organised a free Demo Table where you can stop by and see techniques in motion...just come by the Vic Quilter's area...Well known tutors have offered their time and it's a great idea!

I will be working on applique at the Demo Table today between 2pm - 4pm.

Do stop by and say hello!

I will have 10 x Hearts Desire (Block 1) to give away to anyone who asks, so don't be shy! Blocks 2 & 3 are still available for free so it's the perfect time to join in!

It's not too late to join in the mystery....

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Love on Borrowed Time

Wow it’s only Tuesday and I have several days’ worth of work to get done today. I am preparing for my binding Workshop on Sunday at AQC however I am attempting (attempting?? will have to!) finalize everything today as I will be at AQC from tomorrow.

Isn’t it funny how just when you get stuck into your work, an exciting package arrives and distracts you?

 Windham Baltimore Album by Mary Koval

 Windham New Town Farm-
I will use this one as backing on my Civil War Bride Quilt (yes, I am still making it...slowly)

Yesterday I received some fabric which I had purchased for the back of my Hearts Desire BOM Quilt. I really love this quilt at the moment, and as I am making it, I can already see how splendid it’s going to be and am becoming very particular about every last detail! Obviously I am biased, but sometimes you just know when things are turning out great, so why not share it?

They are both suitable and both are Windham – I can’t believe how much Windham fabric I am using in this quilt, the color’s just ‘work’ for me.

I really like the scrappy look of New Town Farm…as I imagine that this is what quilts probably actually looked like many years ago, but my DDs have given it a very vocal thumbs down. This is OK, as I also fell for these lovely flowers above which will work beautifully on the back. I can’t wait until this quilt is finished…

Lovely stitch work and tension

But back to work for me now…I have fallen in love with my Borrowed Bernina, it’s so easy to get used to.

I have not allowed myself to peel off the protective plastic bits because then it would feel too much like I was keeping it.

It’s a really great machine and I don’t say that lightly because I am so fussy when it comes to sewing machines.

Pushed my other machine out of the way to make room for Bernina
Speaking of fussy, whenever I show my quilts people always ask me about my quilting and are often disappointed to learn that I domestic machine quilt. They want to know where they can get their own quilt quilted like that!

I DMQ partly because I love the process so much and am so involved in my designs that I want to finish them off myself ….naturally….but also partly because when you hand over your quilt to be long arm quilted, you are really investing a lot of trust in the person quilting it for you. And when you have invested as much time in your quilts as I do, imperfect quilting can ruin the whole quilt, and is difficult or impossible to fix. So I just do it myself. However, sometimes you see long arm quilting which is very beautiful and you realize that the right long arm quilting done well can actually improve your quilt top.

I was so happy to learn that Desley has finally joined us in blog land and set up her own blog Addicted To Quilts where she showcases her work. I have known Desley since I started quilting, about 8 years now, and we belong to the same quilting groups. I have always admired her beautiful long arm quilting and her dedication to detail. You know how I love details! I have always said that Desley is one long arm quilter I would trust with my quilts. Do drop by her blog and have a look over her work for yourself. It's stunning.

Basically, I spend so much on my hobby that I often don’t have a long arm quilting budget to work with at the end of it-  but who knows, if I ever got to the bottom of my WIPs, there’s no way I’d be able to quilt them all that's an incentive! But before tackling WIPs, there's today to get through...

Ok, back to work for me!

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Going to AQC?

It’s just one week until my Binding Workshop at AQC! I’m really looking forward to it. Are you coming to AQC?

I will be there for the entire show and look forward to catching up with some of you. I’ll let you know what I’ll be getting up to later in the week.

Last week Debbie from Bernina came to visit me and delivered a Bernina Aurora 440 Quilters Edition, along with all the feet I need for me to get a feel for the machine prior to the workshop.

This is so important because on the day I don’t want to be fiddling around with an unfamiliar machine. There’s too much to get through!

I am really impressed with how helpful Debbie and Bernina have been. I am so used to the temperament of my own machines that having a brand spanking new one in the house has been a bit exciting. Sadly, it’s not for keeps and I will be returning it next week.

I posted my quilts Red Delicious and Dream Fountain off to Paducah last week by Express Courier and am really excited to be part of the show again this year. I was a bit taken aback at how expensive shipping quilts around the world is getting…is it just me, or are the increases getting unreasonable??

On Friday my computer start button, the bit you push in to fire up the machine dropped into the machine and I was out of action. I struggle with computer software on a daily basis, so when the hardware plays up as well….it’s too much. Luckily my suffering DH knows what’s what and went out and purchased a new motor with hundreds of wires attached ( I had a hot flush just looking at this ‘piece’) and then stayed up late fixing the new motor start thing into position. Mr Fix It ! Needless to say I was super impressed. I am very lucky because if it was left to me, I would still be offline.

Today I have enrolled in Quilt University and I hope this will being me closer to understanding EQ7. After all the messes I have made with it, sighs, this is my last attempt to try and make my designs and EQ7’s software compatible.

Has anyone done this online course? Did it help you?

Sunday 3 April 2011

Cold Snap!

It's getting cooler and our cat has fallen in love
with the iron all over again.

And with the cold evenings, it also means that it's time to buy some yarn for those wintery night knits...
Wondering whether to work a blanket or a scarf ??

Saturday 2 April 2011

I'm a Featured Quilter

Every reader of this blog has likely heard of Amy - she’s the generous woman who organizes The Quilt Festivals that we love so much. A great idea generously shared.

Well, this morning I am honored to be a featured quilter on her website. What a thrill.

Thanks Amy!
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