on the chair

the little farmer’s quilt

thread and scissors

joined by the gulls

trio

on the table

little boa

noah and the moon

walking along the grass

on the chair

catching the sun

over the rock

dusty with sun

bronzed

the blanket

squiggly crosses

quilted rock

blanket warming in the sun

the whole quilt

corner on the sand

around the sun

close up of centre

sitting on the quilt

corner folded back

shaking it out

quilt and waves

heading back

maddie the dog

blowing off the chair

Really, every post I write about quilts could start like this “Oh my goodness, it’s finally finished!”  I’m so predictable ;-)

This Little Farmer’s Quilt was one of those spur of the moment quilts I pieced last year.  On a rare Saturday morning off work, I drove out to Gail B’s Patchwork with Noah because I really wanted some of their old Heather Ross fabrics – hopefully the little farmer with her horses.  And yes, they had it!  So I then spent a lovely hour or so gathering soft sunset colours to put with it.  I pictured a sort of round the world quilt but in rectangles not squares, with the Heather Ross fabric as the centrepiece.

It was the last quilt in progress that I shared with my dear old Grandad before he died.  Mum was by his side almost every day during his last few months, and every day family from all over the world would send him photos, little videos, and skype messages that Mum would help him look at at.  Oh he so loved it, and would look at his favourites over and over again.  Especially videos of his greatgrandchildren saying “Love you grandad!  Love you grandad!” He would wave back to them, kiss them on the iPad and say “Love you too sweetie!”

Truly, I cannot agree with anyone who says the internet and all its accompanying technology is destroying our families and societies.  Despite so many of us being so far away, we were all able to be there with Grandad during his last days, sharing funny stories of old, describing what we’d been up to, reminding him of how much he was loved.  It was an incredible blessing.

And he and Nanny always wanted to know what I was making so I would send Mum photos and she would share them.  One of Grandad’s gifts was that he never offered shallow praise.  If I played the piano for him, gave him an essay to read, showed him my patchwork or embroidery, I knew I could rely on him to tell me what he loved but also what needed improving.  “Well, you need to work on that passage, don’t you!” he would say when I finished playing a wonky piece “But I loved listening to the opening – you played that well.” And “Well, that’s a nice looking lighthouse, but let’s face it sweetheart, that’s not what our lighthouses look like.  I think you should make it authentic to us.” And “The colours look lovely Doogie, but I think you’ve rushed those points a bit.  I know you could do better.”

I always valued Grandad’s opinion and his encouragement always made me want to go further, stretch myself, work harder.

I’ll always remember the Christmas I was accepted into the University of Queensland to study for my Bachelor of Arts when I was 17.  Father Christmas had given me the University Handbook – a huge telephone directory sized volume that included every discipline within the university and a description of every subject they taught.  The depth of offerings was amazing – I could even study Icelandic Language and Myth!  After our big family Christmas dinner was eaten and washed up, Grandad and I sat at the dining table with the handbook, paper and pencil and pored over almost every chapter.  We discussed what would be interesting, what would be useful, what would be difficult, the value of education and how fabulous it was that Gough Whitlam had introduced free tertiary for everyone – Grandad and I loved talking politics!  He looked through disciplines that he would love to have studied as a young man and we talked about them too – he was especially interested in Australian history and politics.  It was the beginning of my university life shared with one of the people I love more dearly than anything else. The perfect Christmas.

This here quilt … Grandad loved the colours – he thought they were the best choice I’d ever made – I’d created a beautiful sunset.  And he liked how they radiated out from the centre.  Me too Grandad.  That’s exactly what I was hoping for.

So, the other afternoon, when Noah had an appointment at the hairdresser at Bermagui, it was the perfect opportunity to take along the almost finished quilt, sit on the cliff by the glittering sea and sew down the last of the binding, then take it down to one of our magic beaches with Noah and photograph it.

The late autumn afternoon sun was low in the sky, setting all the honeycomb rocks and quilt ablaze with rich light, and casting a magical dusty glow across the wetlands behind us.  The wind whipped about us, sprinkling us and the quilt with a fine dusting of cool sand.  The sea was choppy with white galloping horses out in the bay and thickly tumbling waves close to shore.  There were a couple of fishermen further up the beach, a young woman running through the water and diving under the waves her long dreadlocked hair trailing behind her like a mermaid’s tail, and a sweet friendly dog called Maddie.  That was definitely a sign – one of Grandad’s dearest grandchildren is named Maddie – oh how they adored each other :-)

Whenever we do something like this, I feel so close to Grandad because I know it’s exactly the kind of thing he would want to do too.  He would have played with Maddie the dog, chatted with the fishermen about their catches, and asked the young woman about her exercise regime.  He would have insisted on carrying the deck chair, and taken part in just how to best lay the quilt out and where to stand to catch the best light – Grandad loved his camera.

He would have loved every moment.

And then, as we were driving back along the beautiful winding road home – up the little hills and back down into the little valleys, all filled with picturesque dairy farms – there on the side of a small glade of trees was a little black wallaby.

It was dear old Grandad!  Letting us know he’d had a lovely afternoon too and that he would always be here.

a patchwork cottage … in the Austen sense

penny wants to bind

burrowing under

her own quilt

penny left

penny middle penny right

crooked blanket on the back

rosy bricks

gorgeous grass

reproduction curtains

pink and orange curtains

the display technician

border binding and background

attic window

abel

choosing climbing over rose prunings

noah with fu and penny

noah and penny

on the bed

I finally finished my patchwork cottage quilt today. Yipee!

I absolutely adored making this quilt – and instantly wanted to make it again and again in different colourways/seasons.  This is the Autumn Cottage.  I did start Spring but it was such an epic quilt to make with all those 1 inch bricks that making it again so soon was just too much.  I should hunt out the fabrics and get back into it.

And after stitching up the Autumn Cottage, I decided all those windows needed curtains – in reproduction fabrics – that’s what happens when I’m making up my own design as I’m going along.  Well – it was so tedious unpicking around each window and adding the half square triangles that I bundled it all up for over a year before I forced myself to finish them off and quilt the darn thing before we left Melbourne.

And look at that blanket – I washed it before using it and it warped weirdly and is now so crooked.  Ah well.  At least I washed it BEFORE quilting it so now it won’t do weird things to my dear little cottage.  And it is super toasty warm and cosy so that’s all good.

All it needed today was the binding.  Sort of.  I had put a binding on 3 sides before we left Melbourne … but it was hideous!  It was a baby blue with pink dots – a fabric I happen to really like but COMPLETELY inappropriate for this quilt – I don’t know WHAT I was thinking.  And I’d even hand sewn it down!  Geez!  So I had to rip off all that binding and replace it with something much lovelier – and I found the perfect toasty cinnamon brown at the very lovely Steph’s Patchwork Fabrics and Stitching Supplies in Moruya.

I’ve always thought that shop looks gorgeous and have wanted to stop many times – and since it was just Noah (equally enthusiastic about gorgeous fabric stores) and me on Monday, driving to a small farm just north of Moruya to collect some little girl guinea pigs, we stopped.  Julian never wants to stop.  And had a marvellous time oooohing and ahhhing over the loveliness.  If you’re ever driving through Moruya – stop at Steph’s – you’ll love it too!

Of course, you’re now looking at my quilt and thinking that can’t possibly be a cottage – it’s 3 stories with an attic!  Ah – but it’s a Jane Austen cottage :-)  You know – like in Sense and Sensibility when the Dashwoods had to move into their cousin’s cottage – the sort of cottage that would now sell in England for hundreds of thousands of pounds!  The sort of cottage that Willoughby declared he loved more than any other sort of home and that he would pull down Coombe Magna just to build it!

Yes – it’s definitely a cottage :-)  And a style that I have adored for many, many years.  In a former life, I’m sure I lived in a cottage just like this.  Probably a rector’s cottage deep in the English countryside – as one of the rector’s many daughters.  Where I practiced all the fine arts a lady should have if she wants to make a good marriage ;-) But probably wound up as a spinster living with another sister and looking after her ratty children and trying in vain to keep the unruly servants in line.

If I could convince Julian of the perfection of the “cottage” this is what we would build here at Wombat Hill.  Built from beautifully rosy warm stone with deep sills and heavy leadlight sash windows, fireplaces in every room, oak floors that have planks 10 inches wide, and of course that magnificent attic which would be my studio – sigh!  Oh wouldn’t that be bliss – and think of the fabulous light and views!  I have clearly spent way too much of my life disappearing into English novels set deep in the countryside :-)

Chances of this being our future home – zero.  Likelihood I will make 3 more versions – the haunting and soft greys and purples of winter, the pretty liberty style florals of spring, and the jaunty red, white and blue of summer – strong!

But you never know :-)

Meanwhile, on the puppy front … I haven’t properly introduced our latest furry critter – this is Penny Pakkun – she is a 1 year old Puggle (cross Pug and Beagle) that we – well Noah really – brought home 10 days ago.  She’d been living with a family up the coast but it wasn’t a good match – they had 3 littlies under 5, a lovely mum who was rushed off her feet, and a dad who wasn’t puppy inclined –  and Penny is a very sturdy, affectionate and energetic little dog.  She was given a very good start with puppy school, and desexing, and all the right worming and immunisations etc. – but she was living outside and very lonely.  So the mum made the heartbreaking-for-her decision to find a new family for Penny.  That’s us!

She’s such a darling – very much still a puppy, with lots of learning to do.  Like – not biting our hands at night when she’s all psyched up!  And not chasing the ducks!  And going to the toilet outside!  But she’s getting there.  Just today she came down with Noah and I to let out the ducks and chickens – and she stayed right by our side and didn’t put a paw out of line.  Noah’s doing a superb parenting job – endless patience and enthusiasm.

Penny Pakkun has the warmest, most velvety tummy, a darling little underbite grin, an enthusiasm for mischief that reminds us so much of our dear little Toph, and she makes the funniest noises – she’s really talkative :-)  Fu’s still warming to her – they both explode out the gate now to race around the grevillea to razz the little birds that live there – and Fu quite enjoys having a little sidekick.  And we love her.  So glad she’s here.

And we know Penny Pakkun’s meant to be here because she loooooooooves quilts.  Always trying to tug them off the sofa and beds to turn into her own nest.  Today, when I was stitching the binding on to the Autumn Cottage, every time I settled it into one position to stitch, Penny Pakkun would nestle in.

So we went out to the caravan, found an older quilt that isn’t a hot favourite, and gave it to her.  Oh she knew straight away it was hers.  She turned round, and round, and round, and round on it, then settled down into the folds with a big happy sigh and went to sleep.

See – she belongs at the very quilty Wombat Hill!

 

a bit of floral in quaama

into the washing machine

Do you remember this quilt?  I said it then, and I say it now, I’ve probably taken more photos of these 4 inch squares of floral than any other quilt I’ve made!

glowing on the porch

Whilst I’m sure the old fashioned prettiness of the florals has something to do with it, I think I’m especially drawn to the lovely warm, rich, busy smooshiness that was created by just stitching them randomly together.

I can spend hours on Pinterest sighing over exquisitely pieced, complicated quilts of great beauty – and quickly add them to my board and dream about the day I’ll actually make one! – but often, in films or magazines or books, the quilts that catch my eye, that look so perfectly at home and cosy and nourishing, that have me exclaim “Oh isn’t that lovely!” are quilts of simple squares.

Such is this simple quilt of flowers.

Mum and I bought the fabric together, several years ago now, at Spotlight during their post Christmas sale.  We bought 25cm of each fabric – I can’t remember how many fabrics – 30 or 40 – and then we cut it all up into 4 inch squares (with a seam allowance).  It was the perfect way to do it because we only needed this minimum cut to give us each enough squares for a wonderfully chaotic quilt.  I stitched mine up as soon as the summer holidays were over.  I think Mum’s squares are still sitting in a pile somewhere!

At that time I was having a real period of doubt when it came to quilting.  Totally convinced my machine quilting was crap.  Which it was a bit.  So that year I tied all my quilts and was happy :-)

But now, oh I know I’m a bit boring and repetitive, but I really love my squiggly-wiggly quilting, following the principle of never crossing the line.  Sometimes I do – and stop and unpick.  Sometimes I make a jagged sharp corner – and stop and unpick.  But mostly I just cheerfully go round and round and round, loving some parts more than others.

And so, this favourite quilt was on the top of the re-quilt pile with squiggly-wiggly here in Wombat Hill and today I finished it!

Into the washing machine it went.  Onto the line for a few quick hours of drying in our breezy sun.  And then off to Quaama for a little tour and some pictures.

See I figured that since you’ve already seen this quilt, I would add a bit of extra interest and show you our closest village – Quaama – the name of which is from the local Aboriginal language meaning “shallow water”.  Quaama is on the banks of a sandy river called “Dry River” and this was the European name for this village until the early 1900s.  It’s nestled into a small hillside between the river and the highway, surrounded by Bega Valley’s ubiquitous rolling hills of dairy farms. And it’s pronunciation … like the curry “korma”.
school of arts

It’s a sweet little place.  Very small – apparently less than 150 residents.  But it has a very resourceful General Store with a petrol pump and wee post office run by a lovely couple with a dear little baby.  Anything bigger than a regular envelope is left for us at this post office – and they stock the fabulous Tilba Dairy milk, cheeses and yoghurt and the divine Bermagui sourdough “Honor Bread” – so we drop in regularly.

There’s also a “Small School” (that’s the official NSW term), established in the 1870s, which all of the children on our road attend and the parents love.  There’s a wonderfully maintained and regularly used School of Arts – which apparently doubled as a cinema throughout the 1920s and 30s! – a sweet little Anglican Church, St. Saviours – the local Rural Fire Brigade – and lots of lovely old wooden houses with netted gardens bursting with fruit trees and vegetables.

through the trees

our corner store

stand of gums

cemetery

Oh and there’s a snake infested cemetery.  Yep, that’s right.  Snake infested.  All the cemeteries in the Bega Valley carry this unique warning and each spring they write it up in the newspaper just to remind people.  Apparently the local red belly black snakes – which are highly poisonous but quite timid – love to lay about on the gravestones in the sun.  And I suppose there’d be highly poisonous and quite aggressive Eastern Browns lurking under the stones and fallen branches.  Ugh!  Not my cup of tea at all.  So there are no photos of the old lichen speckled graves of the pioneers set amongst the tall gums.  You’ll just have to imagine that bit.

st saviours

side with view

whole quilt

quilt2

quilt1

noah and the quilt

from side

on rail

blue binding

tank

shed

One of the many things I love about living here is that so many of the scenes – like this old shed and garden and the next door water tank – remind me so much of my grandparent’s home and garden when I was little.  They too lived in a small country town on the eastern coast of NSW.  Every time I see such a sight I am transported straight back to days of lining snails up into “schools”, collecting the heavenly scented gardenia flowers, exploring under the cool dark house, and rolling down their thickly grassed steep hill.  Fabulous!
feather
the back blanket

already in use

And, as is always the case, these floral squares have been quilted onto a beautiful checked vintage wool, Australian-made blanket.  Oh it will be a sad day when I can no longer find these treasures at the opshop.

And, as is always the case, I know this simple quilt will be put to very good use.  This afternoon, after all our groceries and farm supplies were unpacked, Noah and I headed straight out onto the verandah for a quiet sit down and cup of tea.  It was deep in shade, the mobiles spun loud and crazy in the wind, the pattern pieces I was endeavouring to draw blew every which way.

Good thing there was a quilt at hand.

 

verandah tales

wool

cups of tea
view

pegs and grapes

grapes

skull

gloves

for planting

squares thus far

reading about snakes
crochet tools

crochet

quilt
maple and sky

how to make hash browns

stack

popcorn

:: Noah and I shopped for soft mushy shades at Morris and Sons yesterday – he was in Melbourne, I was here at Wombat Hill – it was a lovely collaboration

:: today’s the first Saturday we’ve all been at home with nothing else to do for so many months – so Noah and I made tea, gathered our supplies and settled onto the verandah

:: oh the green!  in this the last month of summer, every corner of our home is still enveloped in lush richness – fields of long grass, swathes of grape vine, the evergrowing japanese maple

:: these grapes!  piquant with thick skins, finger licking juice and a nice plump seed in the midst of each one – just as a grape should be

:: so much planting to do – more herbs and some greens for quick picking

:: completely inspired by this – colours I have never put together before – but sing to me not of snowy Swedish landscapes, but of faded summer days, bleached by the strong Australian sun

:: he is the loveliest of companions – his interests are so varied and interesting – first it’s snakes (we have plenty of these) and then onto the perfect hash brown

:: and then the breeze picks up and brings with it an icy edge, a reminder that the days are shortening and we are reaching for quilts

:: meanwhile, when I cannot bear to crochet another stitch, the country living sends me straight into the kitchen for maple and cinnamon popcorn

Oh it was indeed a lovely verandah afternoon and such a pleasure to be here, all together, in our new home