an abundance of quilt tops

stack of quilts

With the house almost all packed up, yesterday was time for me to tackle the sewing shed – with Noah and Mum’s help – far too big a job to dare on my own!  Oh my.  For many years now, the sewing shed has not functioned as a PLACE to sew.  Instead it’s become the Tardis of all things stitchy.  I confess there’s been many a day I have simply stood at it’s door and THROWN the stuff in.  You can tell.

Hours were spent pulling stuff out of drawers and cabinets and half filled boxes, sorting it all into some semblance of order – there are now wool boxes, fabric boxes, trim boxes, vintage linen boxes, must-open-straight-away boxes (there’s a silly number of them!), boxes for the opshop, and a small wheelie bin full of “for goodness sake! why on earth did I keep this!”
sewing shed

There were many ooooohs and ahhhhhhs as we rediscovered things that hadn’t been seen for years, and sighed over treasures we completely forgot we even had.  But the loveliest moment came when we found a pile of colourful quilt tops and unfinished quilts.  Some quilts that hadn’t seen the light of day since leaving Brisbane 6 years ago!

It was so lovely remembering when and where I’d bought the fabric, where and with whom I’d sat and made it, what we’d been doing as a family at that time … Quilts are especially marvellous how they hold all these memories aren’t they.

red white and blue

This huge lovely was inspired by an antique quilt.  I started off sewing each block by hand but quickly became impatient with that!  I have had a go at hand quilting it, but once we get to the farm, I shall be whipping those clumsy stitches out and getting stuck into it on my big sewing machine.  I think it will look so tranquil and pretty on our bed in our pale blue-grey room.

american jane

I bought the fabric for this quilt with Julian – one quiet Saturday afternoon at the Quilters’ and Embroiderers’ store when they were still in the little old cottage in Auchenflower.  Then went straight home and sewed and sewed and sewed and sewed!  It’s crazy bright – Mum would like it for one of her spare beds – perfect!

tumblers

I was especially excited to find this vintage tumbler quilt.  I whipped it up one winter’s day – and long into the night – when we were living at Mum’s before we moved to Melbourne – and then it vanished into the box of never-never and I had absolutely no idea what had become of it.  Look at that border!  Look at all those wonderful reproduction fabrics!  So rich and pretty.  It too is in the pile to finish lickety-split.  It will be just lovely folded on the end of our bed for cosy naps :-)

noah

crazy stars

I remember starting these crazy star blocks in our little tumbledown house in Norman Park and finally putting them all together with the offset sashing at Mum’s.  Now I’ll have to track down some white with green spot fabric to finish the borders and then it needs a lovely border like the tumbler quilt I think – maybe instead of “bowls” I’ll do “balls”.  They will be stars and planets.

piles

folding them up

needs unquilting

Now this pretty four patch was the first quilt I made in Melbourne.  Most of the fabric came from the stash but I think I ordered the large squares of bird fabric from the FatQuarterShop.  Very gentle and sweet, this one is.  However the crooked lines of machine quilting are rubbish!  So I’m paying Noah to unpick it and then I shall start again.  It will be lovely for our caravanning guests.

sunhats

Oh the Sunhat Quilt!  This was stitched up in a couple of days, using fabric all from the stash, on Mum’s back deck in Kangaroo Point.  The frangipani was in full bloom, the air was sultry, the sky brilliant blue, Noah was on school holidays so there were lovely days of friends coming to play and lots of laughter, and every afternoon we were oh so glad when the seabreeze came tickling down the hallway.  It just needs pinning out and it’s ready to quilt!

completely forgotten

And this sweet little number – truly, I have no recollection of ever starting this.  But hey, I love the fabric and colours.  So into the must-open-straight-away box it goes.

There’s nowhere at Wombat Hill for a dedicated sewing room – Julian says he will one day build me a little studio, nestled into the trees with lots of light, and waist high built in shelves all the way around.  In my dreams it also has one of my lovely hard-rubbished vintage sofas upholstered with woollen blankets, the perfect sewing table with space for several people to sit around making, and a little wood burning stove to keep us cosy over the long cool months.

Julian says this dream is a few years down the track but I don’t know about that! There is just so much fabric, a little studio may become a necessity!

(Did you hear that, it was Julian roaring with laughter ;-)

gentle making

another one started

One of the lovely things about only visiting Wombat Hill for the last few months (as opposed to BEING there), is that once we arrive and unpack, there really are very few pressing chores for me to do.

Not much point gardening because we’re not there to take care of it.  Same for our animals – we can’t buy our chickens or goats or cows, until we are there to care for them.  Nor are we really sure where best to put them when we do get them, so whilst there has been lots of research on how to build their shelters, we’ve not got down to the nuts and bolts.

And of course, there’s no nursing shifts to be done.

Which leaves a whole lot of time for just pottering.  Something I do awfully well :-) Especially when there’s a beautiful verandah to sit, with my favourite people around me, and boxes of lovely supplies that magically managed to get squeezed into the car.

Just small and simple things.  Easy to make, quick to finish.  So very lovely.
dishcloth knitted

So on our last trip, new kitchen dishcloths were knitted …

pinned out

binding to be sewn down

blanket stitching the edge

edge scalloped

I not only covered a lovely big milo tin with some of Heather Ross’s fabulous new Tiger Lily fabric, but I crocheted a scalloped edge on it, and then served chickpeas for the next 2 night’s supper so I could cover those tins too! (Strangely enough there are no photos of them – I’m sure they’ll pop up in future posts)

birthday fabrics

quilting the copic wrap

Noah asked for something handmade for his birthday – and as he also requested more copic markers, I sewed up an epic quilted copic marker wrap.  It has space for 2 notebooks and 40 copic markers – that could be easily squeezed up to 80 if he puts 2 in each slot.  (Again, no finished photos – slack I know!)

new curtain for dresser

A new yellow curtain (made from a divine Lecien print of which I bought every last centimetre Darn Cheap had! And I bought its mates in red and green!) was whipped up for the kitchen dresser – now that the walls are painted a glorious egg yolk yellow, the dresser really needed something a little brighter than civil war blue.  Which means it needs new wee prairie point bunting for the shelves – sigh! fancy being obliged to make more prairie point bunting :-)

I do adore Lecien’s little floral prints – they remind me of the lovely dresses my Mum made for us in the 1970s – and are exactly the kind of fabric I always imagined Ma making Laura and Mary’s dresses from. Delicious!
D72_2018

I started a beautiful project with Misti Alpaca from the knitting baskets that were secretly stuffed into Tuppance’s corners – an Advent shawl – a new clue each morning.  Oh and I was so good whilst at Wombat Hill – every evening I was all excited about what would be published the next morning, and then I was up just after 5am, coffee pot and cup before me, out on the verandah in the “good morning sun”, cheerfully knitting up my next several rows.  Alas, since I’ve returned to Melbourne, there has been only the tiniest amount of knitting accomplished and I am weeks behind.  Hmph!

echidna cushion

echidna

I even stitched up one of Elizabeth Hartman’s wonderful Hazel Hedgehogs!  It became a cushion for the front verandah – only it’s not Hazel – it’s clearly her Australian cousin Evie Echidna.  They are everywhere in our neck of the woods – wombling across the grass and shyly sticking their noses into the dirt in the hope that if they can’t see us, we surely won’t see them!

Oh we do love them so – one day, on a utterly failed trip to buy donkey poo for the garden, Noah and I came across one toddling along the side of our little secret road (I’ll tell you about that another time) – we pulled over on the other side, hopped out and spent so long quietly watching her that Julian was quite sure we’d decided to ride the donkeys home!  Noah wants a tamish one that will come visit each day.  High hopes there methinks.

I clearly need to get back to Wombat Hill – there’s more gentle making a-calling – especially the kind that requires sitting on that verandah for long and lovely hours, a nice drink by my side and my favourite folks nearby.

bob’s stars

bottom corner

The last six years have had their overwhelming moments for our little family.  There was the huge move from Brisbane – away from our family and friends.  Noah began highschool not knowing a single soul in any of his classes.  I went back to university and studied nursing so as to provide our family with a more stable income.  Julian worked long and often stressful hours at his job, and has had many many work trips, leaving Noah and I to fend for ourselves weeks on end.

To be sure there were many times when I just sat and cried, at a loss as to know what to do next.

But one constant source of support, compassion and love, has been Noah’s highschool.  An all girls, Catholic highschool, they took Noah under their wing from the very beginning and dedicated themselves to helping him navigate the stressful maze of teenagehood, social anxiety, and gender dysphoria – not to mention unending school work and exams – and providing Julian and I with endless support and encouragement!

One of Noah’s teachers even rang me one afternoon recently, after school had finished for the day, to say how proud and excited she was that Noah managed to get through his Japanese oral without tears (oral presentations are excruciating for someone with social anxiety) – Noah and I were both in the car and it was really heartwarming to share this teacher’s love and enthusiasm over the bluetooth!

Honestly, I’m sitting here now with tears on my cheeks I am so grateful and humbled by this school’s dedication.  I don’t know how we would have made it without them.  The beautiful painting below – which is in the senior building’s stairwell – sums up exactly what this school did for Noah – gathered him into their arms, protecting him with their strength and love.

inspiration for bobs quilt

star of the sea

One of the school’s standout Stars is Bob – the volunteer lollypop man.  He has manned the crossing in front of the school, morning and night, for more than a decade.  Watching him in action each day always brought a smile to my face – and to the many many girls he greeted by name, chatted with, admired their artwork, listened to their plans, commiserated with when they were having a bad day.  He has a wonderful capacity to communicate with young people and has endless, genuine enthusiasm for what they are doing.

For our Noah – completely bereft of a grandfather – he was an absolute gift.  An absolute gift.  Every single afternoon I collected Noah from school – and I often intentionally came a bit late – he would be standing with Bob, chattering away, big smiles on both their faces, sharing his drawings, his dolls, listening to Bob’s stories of dance classes and competitions.  They had a lovely rapport.  And on the mornings I dropped Noah off, Bob was there to welcome him – with a beaming smile and wave for me too.

I can’t tell you how many times I cried from sheer relief and gratitude that Bob was there for Noah, through the good times and the hard ones.
nan

lucy

Now we’ve given Bob a Christmas present each year, but in this our final year, we wanted him to know just how much we loved and appreciated him so we made him a quilt of stars – inspired by the school’s name and his love for the school, it’s layout inspired by one of the lovely gates .

It was a family effort.  I designed the layout and cut out all the pieces.  Mum stitched up the vast majority of blocks.  I pinned and quilted it.  Noah sewed down the binding.

a little help

love from all of us

It really is a beauty, even if I say so myself :-) The fabrics – sourced from Darn Cheap up the road – were perfect and there was just the right red pure wool blanket waiting in the sewing shed.  Most of all, it was an absolute joy to make and even better to give.

squiggly wiggly

the back

full quilt

Bob was utterly delighted.  He was effusive in his thanks but declared he had already received the greatest gift – six years of lovely friendship with Noah.  He insisted he was grateful for us!

Naturally, I cried.  He gave Noah a poem he had written especially for his graduation.  I cried more.  There were many hugs and promises to keep in touch.   I cried even more.

noah and bob

This picture says it all.  I know I will look back on this story and the photos and cry more!  And I will always always always think of Noah’s school and darling Bob with such love and gratitude.

Yep, I said it yesterday and I’ll sing it again today from the rooftops.  It’s love folks, love.

And that’s what matters.

 

 

red :: white :: blue

the view

Here’s a simple quilt.  Red, white and blue.  One single motif in the middle.  Inspired by the individual bolts of fabric, found at Darn Cheap.

Sewn up super quick.  Then stuck on my quilting sewing machine for many many many weeks.  Progress was so slow.  Not helped by a whole bobbin’s worth of quilting that had to be unpicked because of dodgy bobbin tension.

Not helped by starting my new nursing rotation.

Overshadowed by all the fun I am having with my mosaic.

Finally finished whilst staggering through the worst flu-thing I’ve had in 8 years.  As I sat sneezing on the first day of sickness, I wodged a tissue up my nostrils and sat down to just FINISH the bloody thing.  Then lay on the sofa, whining and coughing and sneezing, quilt draped over me, to sew down the binding.  Then read and slept under it for the rest of the week, intermittently panicking over the five shifts of work I missed, and melodramatically wondering whether I would ever feel normal again.
from the side

Good to know, though, that this bit of sewing works well as a warm and comforting quilt.  Can’t have too many quilts, right?

pattern

safety pins

starting

It’s the first quilt I’ve started since Grandad’s death.  The first quilt I’ve ever made that I haven’t sent him a photo of so that he could see what I was up to.  Grandad loved that I quilted, but still offered objective criticism.  He’d tell me which colours he thought worked really well and which were not pulling their weight.  Which techniques he thought showed I’d really put some time into the quilt, and which he thought were obviously a quick fabric fix.  And if I suggested any doubt, he’d always remind me of the value of pulling things apart to start again if the end result truly wasn’t right.  But also of not seeking perfection – a vanity he thought stymied both the creative process and the joy to be found in making.

Grandad also loved that I quilted onto vintage, thrifted blankets.  Like many of his generation, he was disappointed in the loss of Australian manufacturing, especially the wool industry and its accompanying small rural mills.  And he could never understand how someone could prefer a doona over a well made, nicely checked Australian pure wool blanket.

He also loved a good display of thrift – there’s not much that’s thrifty about our modern day patchwork and quilting – we flock to designer fabric labels and gobble up glorious, high quality cotttons that we carefully cut and piece to make something beautiful.  And yes, it’s undoubtedly useful, but Grandad loved to ponder that earlier purpose of patchwork – the gathering of small scraps from clothing which were saved, then carefully curated to make warm bed coverings for families.  He loved that I eschewed expensive battings and backing fabrics and just whacked my quilt tops on blankets rescued from the opshops.
from the back

finished quilt

lovely smooth texture

squiggly

binding

But whilst he may not have seen this quilt, I was able to include some fabric I know he loved – the binding.  It’s from the fabric I used to sew his little black wallaby – the one he is buried with.  And as we were driving up to Wombat Hill on Friday afternoon, the car packed to the roof with bits and bobs for the cottage – quilts, crockery, lamps, the Lotte sideboard – we were almost at Mum’s, there was only a skerrick of light left, and there, standing on the side of the road on one of the last sharp bends between Eden and Pambula, was a beautiful little black wallaby.

You often see kangaroos by the road – in the late afternoon there are often dozens gathered on grassy verges and in parks – but not wallabies.  They are shy little, solitary things, and much prefer to stay nestled back in the bush.  This little wallaby stood alone on the bend, just watching us speed on by.

loop

It was a sign :-)on tree

Dear old Grandad mightn’t be sitting up in his armchair in Queensland, on the other end of the phone, listening to all of our exploits, but oh, he is with us every step of the way.

Every plan we make, fence we strain, trailer load of supplies we buy and unload, fruit tree we plant, vegetable garden we till, compost pile we nurture, chook run we build, animal we feed, Grandad has already laboured over the same, and is loving that we are now continuing on with a way of life he thought was marvellous.

It’s a good feeling.

oh these lengthening days!

folded

I was late leaving work today.  Always happens.  As I hurried through the garden to the carpark, my new boss called out “See you later Lils (Lils?), go home and make the most of this sunshine!”

Oh I didn’t need a second telling.  After a positively frosty fortnight with very dark and often wet and windy days, this afternoon’s sun had been calling to me for hours!

coffee and thread

I made a coffee, gathered up some thread, scissors, needle and a needing-to-be-bound quilt and hot footed it outside.  Glorious!  The sky was blue.  The clouds were as fluffy and sweet as new spring blossoms.  There was SUN glinting on the oak’s bare branches.  And with that quilt tucked over my lap, I was delightfully warm.

blue sky and sunlight

little girl

blossoms and thread

But the best bit?  Oh folks … I could see to stitch until 5:45pm.  That’s right.  5:45pm.  You know what that means, don’t you.  We are tilting back towards the sun.  The days are stretching longer.  Spring is round the corner.

Which means summer is round the corner!  Which means it’s almost the end of the year!! Which means it’s almost the end of living in Melbourne!!!!! Which means we will be packing up and moving to the beautiful Bega Valley in the blink of an eye.  Well … almost :-)

sunlit clouds

tucks

Eeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!  Words cannot adequately describe how happy this makes me :-)  See this here photo of scissors – it was taken at 5:45pm.

Tonight I won’t even need to look at my bookmarked sunrise and sunset webpage, because I sat outside – dry and warm – and stitched until 5:45pm.

scissorsMy heart is singing.

 

plates on the dresser

black corner

Now this is a bit backwards.  I made Julian yet another quilt for his birthday this year – I never intend doing this, ’cause frankly, Julian is not an especially quilty person, but I always seem to find just the perfect fabric for him in the weeks before his birthday, so find myself enthusiastically buying up a few metres of it and then presenting him with yet another quilt.

Last year it was the Wild Things quilt, this year it was the Periodic Table quilt, previous years … well I know I’ve made them but I can’t quite put my finger on them at the moment – they were clearly terribly perfect for Julian ;-)

If you have a magnifying glass handy you’ll notice I even chose the background fabrics carefully – there’s cameras for his love of photography, and wooden rulers for his love of precision and old tools, and seaweed for his love of snorkelling …

periodic table

I based the design on a striking quilt I found via Pinterest (you need to scroll down a bit to see the quilt I’m talking about).  Oh the hours I can spend (waste) on Pinterest! There are so many exquisitely beautiful quilts out there!

with leaves and shadows

I adored making the Periodic Table quilt, and was so thrilled with the finished quilt top that I straight away started another based on the same design – this here Plates on the Dresser.

A bundle of Anna Maria Horner fat quarters had landed in my lap from the wonderful Cotton Factory in Ballarat, and I’d noticed the perfect “wooden” fabrics up at Darn Cheap, so the minute I’d sewed the last row onto Julian’s Periodic Table quilt, I set to putting together this pretty thing.  Only I didn’t quilt and finish off the Periodic Table – which is why you are seeing the Plates on the Dresser first.

Backwards, huh.

along the back

So here’s the Plates on the Dresser.  I pieced my wooden shelves, then added the plates using first vliesofix to adhere them, then whizzed around the edges with a close zigzag stitch.

red and yellow edge

For the quilting, I used …. a vintage woollen blanket :-) I quilted a sort of peony shaped flower onto each plate and then did squiggly wiggly over the rest of it – blending the thread colours to the different plate and wood colours.  I never like my squiggly wiggly standing out – all I can see is faults – I like it to sink gently into the fabric.

blue corner

And then a nice piece of stripey reproduction for the binding – like a piece of ornate wooden trim.

pink in sun

Oh I do love it!  And well foresee myself making many more!  I know there will be a lovely gathering of fabric that will jump out at me and bam! – off I’ll go again. Very satisfying.

marmalade in the sun

This one has such a rich, old fashioned look to it.  I can just picture a huge old wooden dresser – the kind you’d see in the kitchen of Downtown Abbey – but instead of holding immaculate collections of perfectly matched and expensive china, it is stacked with the higgledy piggledy leftovers of generations worth of dinner settings that are now only used by the servants.  Just the kind of colourful, thrifty chaos I’m fond of.

with lucy

I think the pinks and reds in this one below are my favourite …

favourite piece

Anna Maria and I are definitely kindred spirits – I adore the busyness and rich saturations of her designs.  Nothing is ever subtle or understated.

like this plate

pegs

blankety back

sky

Sigh … just looking at it now, hanging there in all of it’s full wintery glory, makes me want to head up to Darn Cheap, stock up on a heap of Rosalie Quinlan’s, and make a red, white and blue version for summer.

full quilt

But right now, this Plates on the Dresser quilt is the perfect addition to our cold, dreak, wintery days.

so cosy

All that quilting has made it so heavy and warm.  Just right for snuggling under whilst knitting or reading or embroidering … or WiiU playing …

how it lives

… but I suppose I should really go quilt Julian’s birthday quilt … five months later.

the unexpected quilt with a square

so many threads

There’s been a bit of quilting this past weekend.  Perfect weather for it – grey, gusty and wet – we even had early morning thunder and hail!  And this here quilt needed to be finished.  It has been sitting on the sewing machine, needle in the down position, since I fell over at work 3? 4? weeks ago.  You see, I hurt my hand – a graze that took an age to heal and a strained wrist – all that 45 year old weight landing on one little joint and all.

Ahhhh … as my Nanny says, “You always were awkward Lily!” But back to the quilt …

square testing

T’was a completely unexpected quilt.  I went to Spotlight with a loyalty card that said 40% off if you finish the bolt.  I was pretty excited.  There were several delightful ranges that I’d been eyeing off and I figured this was too good a bargain to pass by.  Alas – I was one day late.  My card had expired.  I was a little peeved and there was definitely some seething as I stomped away from the counter.

But then, I spied my favourite Reprodepot red floral on the $8 table so I figured I’d grab all that was left.  Sadly it wasn’t that much.  That morning I’d also seen an instagram from the lovely Kristin Shields of a little dolls quilt she’d seen in an exhibition.  It had a small repeating square off centre in a sea of background.

Edited to add: Thank you Kristin for directing me to the marvellous original – here’s the link – it’s by the wonderful quilt maker Chawne Kimber!  You must visit her site – her work is very inspiring.  And you’ll see that whilst I’ve totally taken her idea of the little repeating square within a sea of background, mine lacks her energy and movement – she has a wonderful way with colour, complete mastery of modern patchwork and beautiful quilting – her concentric circles are to swoon over :-)

That would be a good use of the red Repro fabric – I just needed some contrasts for the square.  So feeling stingy but determined to walk away with a goodly stash of spoils/fabric, I picked out some blues, yellows and a white.

with bits

Once home, it was quickly obvious, my Repro would not stretch to the square as well.  Never mind – Kaffe is here!  Everything always looks marvellous with a bit of Kaffe :-) Yes? Of course yes!

tried it lengthways

Then it was one to fiddling around with my square.  It wound up MUCH bigger than in the sweet little quilt Kristin had shared.  Hmmm … so having it completely off centre just looked wanky.  It seemed my square would live at the bottom of a long quilt.

quilting the lines

love the lines

the binding

Until I brought it out into this morning’s glorious autumn sunshine and realised – it wants to be a sideways quilt!

finished

Oh yes!

squiggly wiggly

the square

more of those lines

sideways at square

I quilted the red floral with my standard squiggly wiggly.  But the square I quilted with closely spaced straight lines.  I didn’t measure them – just by sight – and some are a little off.  I unpicked the ones that truly offended, but the ones that are left, I’m happy with.  Someone once told me there were no perfectly straight lines in nature – so that’s my mantra :-)   

gently blowing

squiggly wiggly from the back

And of course, it’s quilted onto a beautiful butterscotch coloured, pure wool, vintage Laconia blanket. So toasty warm.

still a lot of threads

As you can see, I’ve not yet finished sewing in all the threads :-0  I counted them last night – with all those start and stop lines and the natural running out of the bobbin during the squiggly wiggly – there are at least 350 ends.  Hmmmm … they can be done whilst I’m snuggled under it – the cold weather will be around for several months – should be enough time!

better corner
on the bed

Ah yes.  An unexpected quilt with a square.  Totally unnecessary.  There are so many more tucked into every corner of Bootville that need finishing and quilting.  But hey.  Colour just makes me swoon.  And red?  Well that’s even better.

 

everyday eden :: a quilt

finished

So, as expected, this nursing gig is taking up vast amounts of my time and energy.  Even when I’m not at the hospital, I find myself thinking about it regularly – especially how I could be doing better and hoping I survive the year!

a start

I’ve definitely landed in an incredibly high acuity facility which can sometimes make for very demanding shifts – when I fret about these Julian says “Just remember, next year when a patient like that arrives you’ll be saying – you’re THAT unwell – off to Canberra or Sydney with you!”

on the ironing board

But there is certainly still a lot of creating going on here in Bootville – more than ever, it’s what keeps me sane – allows my mind to unravel and soon after I sit down to needles and thread, fabric and wool, I am once more in a state of cheerful, imaginative peace.

pinned and ready

This little quilt – a single bed size – which I finished a couple of weeks back – makes me especially happy.

soaking up some afternoon sun

Not only are the delicious warm colours my favourite – but the gorgeous centrepiece of each block is a fabric called “Everyday Eden”!  How apt is that!

tousled in the sun

Eden is the little fishing village perched at the southern end of the Bega Valley.  When we drive east from Melbourne, we trundle across hundreds of kilometres of Victoria and then, soon after finally crossing the NSW / Victoria border, we hit Eden – the southern most village on Australia’s East Coast – and we know we’re back to our beloved Pacific Ocean and almost home to Mum’s.

quilting

It was such fun hunting through the stash, looking for just the right fabrics for the strips of this almost log cabin.

on with the binding

Of course there’s Kaffe – I firmly believe EVERY quilt looks good with some Kaffe – and lots from a lovely bundle I so generously received over Christmas from the Aussie Christmas Quilt swap!

on the line

Then onto a lovely cosy thrifted wool blanket.  No squiggly wiggly for this one – instead, in the centre of each block I quilted one large concentric, wobbly flower.

backing blanket

The borders were so narrow – such a 70s fabric – organic cotton with yellow and orange guitars – they didn’t need any quilting.

sunny house

joyful girl

headless but in love

flower girl

cheerful friends

groovy guy

Mmmm … look at these groovy folk – don’t they look as though living in Eden is pure bliss!  It’s a sign!

border and binding

hanging up

At the moment, this sweet quilt is laying on the spare ‘oom bed.  But – if all goes to plan, and our fingers are STILL crossed – we will need many quilts to line the walls of our next abode – a temporary one whilst we build our strawbale home – so I reckon the more the merrier!

blanket magic

We will also need plenty on the beds – yes, there will definitely be a time in the next couple of years when all my quilts may even become Julian’s best friends :-)

speckled with shadeAh colourful quilts – you do make me so happy.

 

the Roslyn quilt

front

Ages back when my quilting machine was on the blink, I went through a phase of tying my quilts.  This coincided with a period of feeling rather overwhelmed by machine quilting.  Nothing I attempted ever looked good enough to my super critical eye.

I decided – with a humph! – that I would tie everything with perle cotton.  A sure fire way to turn the mounting pile of finished patchwork tops into cosy quilts for our laps and beds. However, I also remember writing that one of this method’s benefits was that later, should I want to – or should my confidence with the machine increase – the little cotton knots could act as basting and I’d be able to machine quilt the piece, pulling out the ties as I went.

Well, guess what!  That’s exactly how it worked :-)  This here little quilt – made from charm squares my Mum bought home from her last trip to Canada – was tied a couple of years back and popped onto the back of our sofa.  Its lovely woollen blanket backing cosied our laps and its very cheerful colours warmed our shadowy living room.  But there was something extra special about this quilt.

Its blanket backing is a New Zealand Roslyn Health blanket – you can read all about it here – woven literally down the road from one of my sweet Aunties.   She needed a special quilt this year – or last year now, I should say – so it seemed very appropriate that I share this little one with her.  I gave it a gentle wash and set to requilting it – with my funny flowers and swirls – just in time to send it home to her for Christmas, with my uncle who was in town for a conference.

She just loves it – especially the provenance of the blanket – and they were going to take a drive to see if they could work out where the Roslyn Woollen Mills once stood.  Isn’t it amazing that such a vast establishment, one that made the most of all the beautiful wool produced by New Zealand and its many sheep (they even wove woollen bathing suits!), one that employed so many hundreds of people, one that then shipped their lovely products all around the world, could then be quietly subsumed by a growing town, and one day not be there at all.  My Aunt and Uncle, who have lived in Dunedin for many years, did not even know of its existence.

the label

the back

close up of quilting

After thinking about this requilting for most of the year, it had to be done lickety-split in the week after finishing the teacher’s Christmas presents and sending Mum off to Canada – and us preparing to travel up to Merimbula for Christmas.  A bit of a rush to be sure.  And the weather wasn’t at all compliant – lots of rain and grey days – so there was a last minute, frantic gentle pressing with a warm iron to remove the last vestiges of damp! Ah well, we got there in the end.

I’m very pleased with my little flower trees, but my border quilting still needs a quite a bit of refining.  I think I’m pedalling too fast which means there are a lot of “whoops!” and “oh dear” and “bugger, that wasn’t where I meant to go”.  Practice, practice, practice, hey?!

so windy

left hand side

bottom

closeup of yellow

So now this sunny little quilted blanket has journeyed all the way back to the small town on the chilly southern coast of New Zealand where it was originally woven many many decades ago.  It lives folded neatly on the back of my Aunt’s sofa and she’s already sent photos of it being put to good use on their regular chilly nights, draped about her knees as she sits before her fire, planning her beautiful garden beds.

Such a lovely adventure for one little quilt.

portrait

not a creature was stirring

appliquing the banner

Well, this little design has pleased me so much I’ve made it twice in the last week – with plans to make it again :-)  Once for an Instagram Christmas swap …. and once for someone’s present – shshshsh! And I’ll certainly make it again :-)

I just adore those little sleeping faces tucked into their quilty bed.  I think when I make it next, I’ll make some more faces – it could be a pattern with a variety of many faces and you could choose your own!  There could be all different sorts of boys and girls.  Teddies!  Dollies!  Dogs!  Cats!  Racoons!

It could be a veritable Ten in the Bed!  Hey – now that’s a fabulous idea!  Oh yes!  A much bigger quilt for a child with 10 in the bed and then words embroidered in blocks throughout the quilt.  Cute.

I got the idea for the little faces from a dolls quilt I’d seen on Pinterest where they embroidered the faces using a simple running stitch.  Here it is

And the felt applique – well, I just adore felt applique.  I often dream of making children’s books with felt applique.  I would love to do one of the animals we live with at Merimbula.  And then stories about children in Merimbula at times over the last 150 years …

I dream big.  I just need the organisation and discipline to sit down and do something about it.

adding the lace

You don’t need to know this wee quilt was pinned onto a vintage blanket, do you?  Because you know of course it was.

pin pin pin

And each room I worked in – piecing it on the little green Husqvarna in the front room – appliquing in the dining room – quilting in the spare ‘oom – my dearly loved sweetheart followed me round with her laptop.

Reading funny things out to me.  Working on her drawings.  Showing me what she’d designed next.  My, how I do love her.  I am especially grateful that even though she is a teenager and all, she still loves to spend time with me.

We have a lovely relationship.  We are both very blessed :-)

my companion

Unfortunately, one thing I’m not is Anne from Green Gables.  Do you remember how she reckoned she never made the same mistake twice.  She always learnt her lesson.  I don’t.  I regularly make the same mistake over and over and over.

Just this afternoon, as I lay on my bed tired and having one of those silly moments when I didn’t know what to do next (cooking supper would have been a good thing), I noticed my skirt was covered with little bits of thread.  They’re from all the unpicking I do.

Mmhm.  I am the queen of unpicking.  I looked at that minty strip of green with its red balls the first time I sewed it and thought – I could quilt it with a contrasting red and it would look really pretty.  Well it didn’t.  So I unpicked it.  Second time – I thought, I can DEFINITELY quilt in that green stripe with red – I just need to do it nicely.  Aaaaaaaaand I had to unpick it.

Same with the appliqued band.  Abby said warned “No!  Mum! It didn’t work the first time! Remember!  The foot kept butting up against the felt heads!” I cheerfully replied “Yes, but I know what to look out for this time so I can do it better.”  I didn’t. Unpick! Unpick! Unpick!

Tonight, I’ve got 4 rows of top stitching to unpick on two pillowcases.  The first one didn’t work.  Did I stop and reevaluate.  Nope, I just kept going.  Sigh.
quilting

tulip

But squiggly-wiggly?  It’s a bit hard to go wrong with that – I do love it so.

red tulip

Now here is Lily-Anne trying to learn … I thought maybe I could fit more of the verse on if I wrote the words out on paper as I guide to how big to make the letters.  It didn’t work.  Oh well.  I’m hopeful that the letters will become finer and smoother with practice.  I’m a huge believe in Practice :-)

I’m thinking of doing a Christmas carol next.  I just can’t decide which one – We Three Kings?  O Come All Ye Faithful?  I love both of them.  No! No!  O Little Town of Bethlehem.  With little appliqued houses.

didnot help

closeup of ginger

Look at the sun hitting the felt – doesn’t it make the texture so utterly beautiful.  And I love perle thread.  I know I said it above, but I adore felt applique.  It is my hands down favourite stitchy pursuit. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.

close up of coco

writing

tulips

the whole

There you go.  A wee quilt of little people dreaming of Christmas.  That will be us in just 13 short nights !

And it was pure bliss making it.

 

the crabapples of finch street

One of the things that always brings me a lovely sense of “ahhhh …” is driving down Finch Street.  It lies between our place and the little girl’s school I nanny/tutor – well, it does on my carefully planned route :-)

And no matter the time of year, Finch Street – with its grand old houses and magnificent trees is breathtakingly lovely.  The other little girl I used to nanny (who moved to Sydney last year) used to ask me to drive down it specially, and we’d drive slowly, ooohing and aaaahing over our favourite houses, discussing who’d have which room, where we’d put the furniture, and the garden parties we’d hold.

There’s even a truly exquisite old mansion that does high teas – we always said we would go but never did.  That’s a lesson in life, isn’t it – do it now or you’ll miss out.

Now part way along Finch Street is this pretty little roundabout which looks nice enough most of the year, but in spring it is glorious.  ‘Cause in the middle is a beautifully shaped crabapple and it puts out the prettiest spring blossoms ever.

Oh they are the perfect shade of pink with those vivid but soft green spring leaves making the rosy blossoms leap out even more.  And when you stop and peer closely, the blossoms are filled with funny little black flying insecty things.  I’ve no idea what they are – but I have checked other crabapples in my neighbourhood and they have them too.

Clearly funny little black flying insecty things are especially fond of crabapples.  We’re kindred spirits, me and those insects.

finch

So when I was playing with this Storybook charm pack the other day, it was crabapples that sprang to mind.  I had two charm packs so I laid them out on my bed – in that carefully random way we all strive for – and because that wasn’t going to make a very big quilt, added a very pretty pink 1930s repro I had – as crosses.  Maybe it’s a nursey thing, but I do like crosses lately.

piecing

Might add, it wasn’t until I was pinning the finished quilt top out that I realised the Storybook range is baby fabric!  There’s onesies and bibs on the wee clotheslines!  Never mind – it’s still very pretty – and the castles and birds and pirate ships are just lovely.

pinned

close up of pins

Found the loveliest blanket for backing – it is so thick and fresh – methinks it’s hardly been used.  And such perfect colours for my crabapple quilt.

reels

My original intention was to quilt alternating crabapples and blossoms in the simple squares.  However – this here apple was the only one of 13 that turned out – boy that was some serious unpicking.  Didn’t matter how much I practiced I just could NOT get any other apples nice and rounded.  Hmph.

the only good apple

So blossoms it was.  Lovely crinkly edged, smooshed layers just like those on the crabapple tree.  With leaves of course.  I do so love that about the crabapple – how it bursts forth with its leaves and blossoms at the same time.

quilting the flowers

blossoms

with bug

serendipity

close up pink circles

They came up especially pretty on the back of the blanket.  I reckon I would cheerfully use this quilt face up or down.

sewing in the last threads

Like Orlando’s Blue Oaks from last week, all this quilting was an excellent adventure in free motion quilting!  There are 110 crabapple blossoms, 4 slightly wonky but okay apples in each corner, inner borders of squiggly-wiggly – representing the bluestone walls of the Finch Street roundabout, and outer borders of funny little black flying insecty things – joined together on a meandering flight path with leaves along the way.  It was a make it up as I went along kind of thing.

And I did unpick quite a bit – anything I wasn’t pleased with got the pick – sometimes it felt like I was spending more time on the sofa flicking those errant stitches out than I was at the sewing machine!  Some of the flying insects are a bit wonky but they’ll get better with practice.  I’m especially fond of the “wings” in each of the blue and white triangles – I can imagine doing something that incorporates lots and lots of them very soon

apple and wings

closer the back

pink buds

lots of bugs

Isn’t that sky amazing!  When a lovely spring day comes along here in Melbourne, it is seriously lovely.

reaching for the sky

the whole quilt

top left corner

bottom right corner

on the garden bench

pegs

apple

on grass

blew onto ground

As I mentioned the other day, crabapples are on my list to plant when we move to our land in the beautiful Bega Valley.  But no matter where we venture, this sweet little quilt will always remind me of Finch Street.  When we tuck it round us on a cold evening, or lay it out under a summer’s tree for a little one to play on, I’ll remember the beauty of Finch Street and its exquisite roundabout crabapple – the very first time I met this dear little spring sweetie.

doneLove!

 

orlando’s blue oak :: a quilt

beginning

I ventured out to the sewing shed yesterday.  A brave heart is needed when facing the sewing shed.  I cannot remember the last time it was possible to sit at the table in there.  For so long, I’ve simply stood at the door and hurled the fabric in.  Isn’t that dreadful.  It is.  I’m a little bit embarrassed – thank goodness you cannot see it.

Anyways … I opened the door, peered in, thought about starting yet another grand clear out of said sewing shed – with a view this time to only ever using it as a neat and orderly fabric storage area – gave a deep sigh and thought, oh well, you have to start somewhere so pulled out this incredibly plain quilt I pieced together one night several years back.   Squares of blue pinned to a vintage blanket and a few blocks of straight line quilting.  Like those fabulous Indian quilts – so tactile.  However, interest had waned – how many hours would it have taken to finish this?! – oy! – and this poor quilt had wound up buried under so much else, just its corner poking it.   So I pulled it out.  Pushed the escaping fabric back in with my foot, and slammed the door.

That’s a start, right?

where it was at

The straight line quilting was ripped out – I became so efficient at it – the quilt was pressed with a lovely hot, steamy iron – it lightly felts the woollen blanket onto the back of the quilt top and makes it sooo easy to pin – repinned it and got straight to quilting.
closeup of tree

Now I’m not a huge fan of the all over patterning you see with some long arm quilting.  To me it lacks a bit of individuality – looks a bit too computer programmed.  But my quilting skills are limited so I pondered what to do.  No squiggly wiggly.  No straight lines – or crooked ones.  Something that would fill each square but would also allow me to move onto the next one without having to break the thread.

I did spend a while trying to do this with paper and pencil – and a wee sailboat.  It was a complete failure.  Then, as I stared out the window at our messy back garden, it came to me … the oak!  Our lovely huge old oak that fills our back garden with prettiness, shade and colour.  Which made me think of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, the oak poem that he holds close throughout his journey, and the tree – first young, then ancient – that was one of the constants in his life.  No matter what happens in our lives – where we go, how we go, when we come back … there stand our trees.

Always growing but never changing.  Little oaks it was.

last row

There are 90 squares – that’s 90 oaks.  By the third row, they’d really morphed into very curvy little oaks.  I unpicked a couple and redid them – but on the whole I’m very pleased with how they turned out.  They’re all slightly different and certainly not perfect but I was sooo into the groove of it by the time I got to the end.

Now I’m planning apples and pineapples and crowns.  I daresay I shall stick to straight lines of them at first … but as my confidence grows I hope to plan more imaginative layouts.  We’ll see.  It’s a slow thing, this getting of quilting :-)

binding

Found a lovely 1930s reproduction for the binding.  Spent last evening hand sewing it down.  So satisfying.  Then into the washing machine, onto the little indoors line for drying – we had a humdinger of a storm last night – hours of lightning and thunder and rain – I was transported back to spring evenings in south east Queensland –

sewing it on

– and finally, when there was more than 30 seconds of blue sky – a brisk dry to finish off in today’s blustery wind … and a wee photo shoot.

wild and windy day

closeup bottom right corner

even closer

floral closeup

I really do love the effect!  Now thinking of gathering some more of those lovely orange and yellow and pink and red spots, piecing more squares, and quilting pineapples.  That would be fun.

with pegs

And on the back – ta-da! – why it’s a vintage blanket – the only one I’ve ever found in these colours.  Very cheerful.

backing blanket

binding on the line

 

So blue!  So utterly unlike anything else I’ve ever made.  So sweet.  And that quilting!  Huh!  I can’t believe I did it.  I asked Abby what she thought we should do with it.  “What we do with all the rest,” she replied, “Huddle under it!” For now, it’s hanging on the back of my desk chair.  I’ll have to think about it.  Hmmmm ….

In my dreams, our strawbale house has a lovely big guest room with huge windows looking out to the forest. The room has a sweet old bed in each corner and on each bed are cosy colourful quilts with pretty pillows, a wooden chest at the foot of each bed for bags and shoes, a small potty cupboard with a reading lamp beside each bed for clothes and books and spectacles, and a woven rug on the floor.  There’ll be quilts on the walls and quilted curtains too.  We might need to have two rooms like this … or more …

middle

kicking out from the side

bottom with chair

Isn’t it a grand thing, this learning and growing and changing and adding … I love it.