Wednesday 23 December 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

Thank you for sharing 2009 with me online
Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

The year has just flown by – I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. Christmas feels like it’s crept up on me this year, I’m grateful that it’s forecasted to be a cool day so I can bake without becoming too flustered- I envy all of you enjoying a white Christmas this year.

It’s been so much fun sharing my quilting journey with you online, I find that blogging helps keep me focused and committed to statements I make at home, such as ‘ I’m going to be stash busting’. Of course, sharing Red Delicious with you all has definitely been a highlight – as has working through my fabric mountain.

Thank you to everyone who left comments, shared your thoughts and opinions and emailed me throughout this year. It’s so nice to connect with you as I go through my fabric and design folios.

I have a lot of ideas and plans for next year…and my New Year’s Resolution is to be better organized, and attempt to finish my ‘To Quilt List’. I don’t know yet if that’s possible – but I’ll keep you posted, that’s for sure.

Thank you all for your support, have a beautiful Christmas and New Year,
Love Esther

(this pic is from a Hallmark card, design by Lucy Cromwell – I just love her card designs, and it’s one poinsettia that’s indestructible!)

Thursday 17 December 2009

Let's set the table!

It's time to finish your table runner: Cherry Thieves
Part 2 is now launched

Red Poinsettia

Some love christmas trees and pine needles, and while those things are all nice, nothing says Joy in December to me like a flowering red Poinsettia (although the white vaiety is also breathtaking).

Here is a pic of a young poinsettia plant

and here is a pic of the same plant after my cat has finished with it. I forgot to put it out over night (and my cat apparently prowls the house looking for foliage to chew on)

Sadly, all the major stems were destroyed

and this leaf even had a feline bite

Oh well, I guess I'm going to have to sew a poinsettia wall hanging or table runner or something impressively red so that I can enjoy this flower all year round.
Something else to add to the To Do List!

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Busy Sewing

It's been scorching hot today - and being near my sewing machine was impossible, however I am very close to finishing the table runner and will have it up and available by the end of this week, most likely friday. How is yours progressing? Are you ready for Part 2 ?
I was luckly enough to receive emails from some of you sharing your favourite Cherry Thief themed photos - thank you so much for sharing these moments with me, I always love to hear from you and find out where and how Red Delicious quilt blocks fit into your world.. we all seem to have so many stories to share. Quilting really is such an evocative art and as always, it's such a pleasure to share my designs with you.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Christmas baking

Sewing, what sewing?

The Christmas party / group get togethers have started and so has the Christmas baking. We've been really lucky as it's not to hot to have the oven on yet, in fact it's raining - for which my garden is super grateful!

I feel very strongly about not commercialising Christmas as much as is possible - baking, gratitude and family time are the focus. The supermarket is avoided at all costs! (unbelievably the queues are already insane).

It's still to early for the really special baking that I like to do from the 20th onwards (and that's usually weather dependant over here) but the biscuits have started rolling out. Luckily my DD's enjoy making them so I get to 'supervise' without getting flour all over me. What can be easier than Classic Shortbread? So easy to make, bake beautifully - the perfect Christmas baking warm up.

Here's the recipe my DD's are using, they make a double batch of the Classic Shortbread , separate it into batches and then make each batch different with added extracts, nuts, zest, etc

Classic Shortbread
2 cups plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (225 grams)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon true vanilla extract

Cream butter with sugar until smooth, add vanilla and mix well.
Stir in flour and salt.
(for batches, break up mixture now and add extracts, nuts, etc)
Wrap each batch in cling wrap. Chill for 45 minutes.
Ensure work surface and rolling pin is well dusted with flour.
Roll out dough to 1cm thickness
& bake at 180c for 10-15 minutes or until lightly crisp and golden.

Thursday 3 December 2009

More Stash Busting

Using my time as productively as possible before the
Christmas season really sets in and I have no time for actual sewing.

More stash busting. This time I'm using a really great tool from Westalee Design, its called a "Stash Buster House Set" and it's easy to use, and I found myself getting through my fabric easily. It's so nice when stash busting can be fun.

I haven't actually made a Jelly Roll (this tool is ideal for Jelly Rolls) or House quilt before, then a few weekends ago I caught up with Leonie and Bill at the AQM in Vic and Leonie had a sample of some fabric worked with this tool...and my DD who was with me instantly fell in love with the pattern it makes. She calls it 'honeycomb' and promptly demanded a big throw for the house in
cool yellows and forest greens (added to the growing
quilt list) so I had to buy it and give it a go.

Of course it took me a few weeks to even sit down and open the packet, but just yesterday I started playing around and I'm so glad I did.

Although I always love designing new quilts, most end up on the wall, and with so much fabric in my studio,
it's ridiculous that I don't have more 'throw' quilts
that I can just have around the house or add to a bed when its chilly. My DD's are always complaining about the lack of quilts in the house...for a quilter!

Here I'm using a 'christmas set' of fabrics which also happens to be heavy on reds. However, I am also planning on making a large 'multi coloured' version.

This tool is perfect for those days when you want to
work on something productive, without having to
think too hard...

You probably all know Westalee Design Quilting Rulers, and I've added a link on the sidebar to their website. I definitely recommend their rulers and products. I was lucky enough to win $500 worth of their goods when my Quilt Sunshine and Shadow (won Best Original Design) and since then Bill has even gone to the trouble of 'inventing' a modified ruler (which I havent had time to trial yet *Sorry Bill, I'm getting there!*) for me.

Prior to Westalee Designs, I simply made my own templates for quilts I had designed but now it's so nice to know that there are great tools available to make quilting faster, easier and more accurate than ever before. Another great bonus is that Leonie and Bill are so approachable and willing to answer any questions you might have about their range and uses.

So I really don't have any excuses not to charge through my Quilting To Do List!
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