"an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Across the Tasman

Spending a few days in Auckland before embarking on the "Noordam" for a cruise around NZ, then Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney. We're staying just off Queen Street, in a small apartment. I wasn't aware that Auckland was so hilly (we were here last 25 years ago!). I think Auckland's steepest street is just across the road (Liverpool Street), and you sure need brakes -or hang on to the husband for dear life! A couple of lovely ladies took us on a tour yesterday, they showed us some lovely spots, black beaches, rock formations on the coast, covered in nesting gannets, parks and reserves with kauri trees and pohutukawas with lovely red flowers, cabbage trees and many others. We saw pukeku birds with young ones, and ducks. We stopped at an ice cream and cheese factory for refreshments, and a very old pub in the historic village of Puhoi. Puhoi was settled by immigrants from Bohemia, and the church of St. Peter and St. Paul still shows the old German names in the lead light windows. The basket of knitted garments to ward off cold was a nice touch! Although it rained most of the time, it was a lovely drive and we saw lots of things tourists rarely see. In the evening, we dined at an Italian restaurant, "Da Vinci's". I felt transported to Rome, a lovely space with terracotta walls, checkered tablecloths, and fabulous food. And they had a very passable Limoncello too.
Today we started late, as we both couldn't sleep for some reason. It's a pretty noisy area. We took the bus to the ferry terminal, then Wayne trundled off to the Maritime Museum and I found a few interesting shops in Queen's arcade. I took the ferry over to Devonport and enjoyed a small late lunch and the sunshine. Sadly, the two shops I wanted to check out, Cushla's fabrics and a French interiors shop, were both closed. Still, I had fun exploring this pretty part of Auckland and got back to the hotel around 5:30. In the evening, we found another great eaterie, Le Garde-manger, a French bistrot with fabulous food and French staff. The crepe Suzette was sublime! I can't make up my mind which of the two restaurants I like better, but Auckland sure has something to offer the foodies! Off to the ship tomorrow, and looking forward to seeing the Noordam again. Photos to follow!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Out and about

Last week started with a visit to Carlton - Little Italy. The weather was spectacular, warm and sunny. The perfect day for visiting a cafe in Lygon Street and sampling some yummy Italian food. Afterwards, a browse in the French food store, and no visit to Carlton would be complete without spending time at Brunetti's, for coffee and ice cream. People watching is fun here, too, and there were some interesting characters to be seen, such as the two ladies decked out in vintage fashion, right down to the hair style and hand bag.
Of course, I couldn't go past the Amarena and limone flavours for
 my gelato, yum! And a few Italian biscotti just had to come home with me too....
Spent some time in the Owlery, and put together the little quilt the Friday ladies and I are working on, to be raffled at a later date. Needed three more hexies, which were quickly added, and now we'e sewing the rows together. I think it will work well as a table topper or a lap quilt.
Meanwhile, I'm on panel No. 6 of my Kim McLean quilt, and it's getting to be quite an addictive process. My current panel is more complex, with lots of stems and leaves. I'll see if I can incorporate some of the advice given by Hany, the Tentmaker of Cairo.
I also finished a gift, a small tabletopper for
 Halloween, with Casper the ghost motifs. Gifted to a friend in NZ.

Really enjoyed this cuppa the other day, it came out all frothy, the way I like it. In fact, I might just go and make myself another one!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

This and that

 Don't know where last week got to! I'm sure I didn't do much, but it seemed to have filled my time. Still, a couple of highlights feature, such as the amazing Tentmakers of Cairo exhibition a friend and I visited on Saturday.
This was a one-man show, featuring Hany Mahmoud and his works. There were also pieces by other tentmakers, and other artworks of Egyptian artists. The 'quilts' were the highlight, however. I say 'quilts' with reservations, because the pieces the tentmakers craft are not quilted, only backed. Traditionally, the needleturn applique is sewn onto (tent) canvas, but these days, different background
fabrics are also used. There are about 40 shops in the Tentmakers' street in Cairo, and boy! would I like to see that! Hany said he usually sits on a cushion with his legs tucked underneath him, and he can sew for hours in this position. A typical quilt will take approx. 6 weeks to make, and at the speed these guys work, I can believe it! The applique fabric is usually a cotton homespun in solid colours, although some people also work with silk and organza. The traditional Islamic patterns do not contain flowers or creatures, and are made up with geometric shapes and Arabic writing, e.g. sayings from the Koran.
Others use floral or animal motifs, such as the lotus flower, and birds are also a favourite.
The design is drawn unto the background with a white pencil, and the top fabric is held on top of the design and then fastened with needle and thread to the background. I asked Hany how he works his points, which is something I find tricky. He showed me a way to make points, which I will try in my next applique quilt. We were certainly deeply impressed with the exhibition, and I wish I had the ready to buy one of the quilts. Instead, I came home with an Egyptian cookbook, which has some yummy recipes.

And it will soon be Halloween! I made a few Halloween cards, only one of which loaded here for whatever reason. And I'm making a small Halloween quilt for a friend. Will post a photo when it's gifted.

I look forward to having the Wednesday night group here this evening. Always nice to catch up with the ladies.

And we've booked all our flights and accommodation for our Canada trip next year, yay! quilt Canada, here we come!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

More cards

 I'm having the Friday ladies around a few times at the moment, so I thought I'd expand the working space in the Owlery a little. Added a new fold-out table and folded down the cutting table. Thirteen of us fitted around the table - cosy!
Spent a few mornings making cards, using the new Kaisercraft range in delicate silver and lilac/purple.
Then I discovered a goodie bag with Tim Holtz embellishments and played with those too.
My friend Mary put me on to these glitter foam pages, which are wonderful to use in the Sizzix. They work really well with dies, because the foam squishes down and is easily cut by the die. The only problem is sticking the cut outs down on paper, because sometimes
 they are very delicate. Haven't yet found a good adhesive for these.
Have started a Christmas table runner and the fourth block of my Kim McLean quilt. Photos next time.
Had a lonesome Ibis in the paddock the other day; usually they arrive in large flocks, but this one was all alone. Hope he'll find a flock again.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Fun in the Owlery

Had a fun time quilting with friends this week. Thursday we were in Ballan, where many of the Friday group sat and sewed and had lunch and a lovely time. Friday was the usual get together, and on Saturday my other friendship group had a good time sewing and having afternoon tea.
I'd started on my Kim McLean quilt and finished the first block (see below). It took some re-learning and trial and error, but it was good practice. Hopefully the next few block will look more professional.  One of the challenges was finding the right thread for the needleturn, but eventually I settled on Aurifil 100wt, dark grey for the dark bits and Superior thread silver for the lighter pieces. The second block is already in production, and I'm already happier with it. Marking pens also constituted a learning curve. I used the blue Flexion pen to trace shapes, but unfortunately, the markings turned white when ironed. Then I changed to thin pencil, which was fine for lighter pieces, and bought a white Sewline pen for darker ones. Love the combination of KF and batiks, they really do compliment each other.

My friend Gabbie gave me a bundle of Kaffe Fassett precuts from Tania, which are just gorgeous. We thought Tania might have wanted to use them for a Kaffe Fassett design challenge we held a few years back, however, looking at the book, it didn't quite add up. So I played with the pieces the other day and sorted some of them into different fabric ways, and had a bit more of an idea about what to do with them. Stay tuned!

Finally, I made this Anniversary card for DH, seeing it was our 35th Anniversary yesterday. He liked the two owls, as did I. I was very spoilt, with a mushy card, chocolates, lunch at Langham's, and another little Pandora for my ever-increasing collection.
Yesterday I made two tags (or bookmarks). In the first one I used a new stamp, the moggy reading a book and sitting on a stack of books. Enjoyed using my new ink pads, a stencil, and Tim Holtz washi tape (mainly to cover up a couple of stamping ooopsies).

 The other tag was one I'd seen in Pinterest, just loved it. I got the India stamps and a flourish stamp and got going, using various backgrounds (pearls, ink pads), and a silver gel pen for highlights. The stamping is pretty iffy, and it has a couple of ooopsies, but that just adds to a weathered look. Or so I tell myself. It's quite tricky using those stamps, because they are not backed and are basically floppy. Still, I quite liked the overall effect. I just wished I could have used the Finnabair opalescent acrylics, but irritatingly, I can't for the life of me re-open the tubs! Even DH couldn't open them. They might need to re-think their packaging.

 On to the NEXT BIG THING!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A bit of this, a bit of that...

Mixed weather this week, from balmy 18C with lots of blue sky and sunshine, to cold, wet and blustery. Thought I'd make the most of a sunny day and drove to Emu Bottom, an old homestead just out of Sunbury. Got some nice shots, both in colour and b&w. It's a lovely property, and brought back memories from the 1980s, when we spent many a Sunday here, having spit roast lunch in the barn, and dancing to bushband music. Fun days with my airline colleagues and friends.
As I mentioned in the last blog,  my friends Marie and Ron gave me this beautiful cymbidium orchid. I finally got a shot of it, with all the flowers open. Just gorgeous. I hope the flowers keep going for a while, they brighten up the place.
And YAY! - it's a red-letter day, or better a redwork day, since I finally completed all 14 blocks of my Scandinavian Rose quilt. It only took about 5 1/2 years....  Now comes the serious business of cutting the sashings and borders. Feeling rather daunted by that. Still, it means I can now start working on my new Kim McLean quilt on Fridays (see below). That should keep me going for another 5 years. Mind you, I won't be doing the border as shown, will simplify things a little.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Arty-farty stuff

 Bit of a mixed week. The Macedon Ranges Photographic Society is having an exhibition/sale at MAD Gallery in Lancefield in August (do go and check out the entries! And the caf makes a very nice coffee). I submitted two pictures, both taken on our last holiday, in Hawaii. All the entries are for sale. The Society had a "get to know your camera" night last evening, and I went along, taking my new Canon SX720HS. I haven't had a chance yet to really explore the settings, so I managed to find the manual ones (with some help) and play with some of the subjects. I quite like the way the roses photo turned out.
 Here's another photo of the little quilt I finished recently, using up what Liberty fabrics I had. At the moment, it covers my comfy chair in the Owlery.
I've made a few more cards, two of them for friends who turn 70 later in the month. I must say, I do like the Graphics45 papers; I just need to learn some techniques for using them in a more versatile way. Hopefully, I can do a few classes at Paperific later this month, and learn some new tricks!
The thank-you card is for a friend who is extremely generous and presented me with a beautiful pot of Cymbidium orchids. They're just coming into bloom and are a wonderful dark
pink. I'll need some advice on how to keep them blooming, although I'm told they're very hardy. Well, I've killed ivy, so we shall see.... The little owl stamp was from another friend, and is just so sweet. Hoot!
Finally, there's my crochet scarf, which I might turn into a cowl. It has quite a few mistakes, so it will probably go to the Op shop. I'm not too god on concentrating these days...
Haven't decided yet whether to tuck in the ends or have a fringe. I just loved the pattern, so easy and quick to crochet. It would make a lovely
 baby blanket in 'baby' colours.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Another finish

 Another Friday afternoon with my quilting friends, and this time we celebrated Christmas in July, and the unveiling of the latest quilt challenge.
The ladies had outdone themselves with yummy festive fare, ranging from sausage rolls, dips, mini quiches, smoked salmon sandwiches, fancy cheeses, scones, and so on. Plus a little 'special' orange juice thrown in (also known as a Mimosa). Everything was very delicious, and enjoyed by all.

Most of us had done the "Miniature Quilt" challenge, and in the top photo it's some of the group and more in the last photo. Below are some more close-ups of the individual quilts. Again, everybody did a fabulous job. Challenges are such fun!
The first one was by Pat, a fun quilt in Kaffe Fassett fabrics. Once not a fan of KF, I'm now quite addicted to these fabrics.
The next mini quilt is by Helen, and it will be a dolly blanket once it is finished. Just perfect for a little miss. The two pillows in the background were Edwina's, one each for her granddaughters. Lucky girls!
The next photo shows a few of the quilts. Top row, left to right - The abstract quilt is Paula's, trust her to come up with a novel design. Beautiful fabric combinations. Next to it is a heart stitched by Julie, which will become a very pretty cushion. The tiny little pieced quilt is very intricate, made by Gabbie. So pretty! The big (mini) quilt is mine, and used up some of my Liberty fabrics. I found the pattern on Pinterest, and thought I'd give it a go. Marg made the sweet pears quilt, , quite gorgeous. Ann made the the black and white quilt with a dash of red, again very intricate and lovely.  Ann also made made the
small shadow quilt, which is really nice, great idea also for a large quilt. It's part of another challenge, to make something with Tania's Little square packs.
Janice made the tiniest quilt, a pretty nine-patch design with the tiniest pieces of Liberty fabrics. Amazing! Melva made the flowerpot quilt, a lovely traditional design. Maxine's was gorgeous, a little cottage, quilted and extensively embroidered, a real little treasure house.
Paula had also done another abstract piece, which looked so good! A very talented lady.
I'm very happy to be in this group, such a lovely group of ladies, and so very talented.
Finally, a quick photo of my ripple blanket, finished last week. It's very warm and heavy, made of 100% wool.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Catching up with myself

 Haven't blogged for a while; was actually thinking of giving it up or re-focusing the blog. But a couple of folks still follow my musings, so I'll keep it going for a while.
One of the reasons I haven't blogged much was because Wayne and I were on a cruise/holiday for nearly a month. We boarded the "Noordam" in Sydney, and headed for Port Vila, Fiji, Samoa, Hilo, Honolulu, and Victoria, disembarking in Vancouver. It was a lovely, leisurely cruise across the Pacific, and I had the pleasure of the company of a lovely quilter friend, Audrey. Also managed to catch up with our dear friend Nancy, who spent a wonderful day with us, showing us her Vancouver. We then flew back to Honolulu
for a few days of sunshine and surf (and shopping!), before heading home to autumnal Victoria.
Not long after our return, a kangaroo made a mad dash across the road right in front of me, and sadly, the roo died. However, her joey in the pouch survived. Just as we were frantically looking for wildlife rescue numbers, by some small miracle a wildlife officer drove past, and took the joey with her to be reared in a shelter. I could drive the car home, but there was quite a bit of damage, so I didn't have a car for nearly a month. I refuse to drive Wayne's car (the 'death trap'), so I had a rather boring month of not doing much. Thank goodness for the studio; it
gave me the opportunity to catch up on things.
I made a few cards, playing with different looks and ideas. I used my "Ladies Diary" papers for the first time (love them!), and a friend put me onto a foam glitter, available from the Chinese shop, which works perfectly well with dies put through the Sizzix. It comes in about 10 colours, most of them perfect for Christmas cards.
Sherman likes sitting with his friend, the Owl, as it is the warmest spot in the house, with the sun shining in, and directly underneath the heating vent. It's almost better than my lap.
 I've nearly finished my Scandinavian Rose panels, and I've bought my next hand sewing project, a Kim McLean quilt. It's made with Kaffe Fassett and batik materials, and I'll probably needle turn the pieces. It will no doubt keep me going for several years! In the meantime, I'm knitting another potato chip scarf (yes, again!), and just finishing off a miniature challenge quilt. More about that next time.