The Dark Prince

This quilt was made in a hurry, hand quilted in the dark of the early morning hours and it is made in a very unusual dark color scheme… therefore I shall christen it The Dark Prince.

I did write about this project some months ago, how I have to hurry with personal projects so I can slot them into the workroom in between jobs – otherwise I never end up finishing anything… Now that the quilt is finished I care even less that it was machined together – you know, this is usually a job made by hand, with the English Paper Piecing technique.

But I turned all the edges of each hexagon by using a cardboard template and a hot steam iron and then I machined them together with a zig zag Stitch.

On the reverse side I simply patched some brown linen on to the wonderful hand printed fabric I made in a course many years ago. I like the reverse side a lot, I usually find it difficult to be letting my hair down, ie stop measuring and just going for it…


Not keeping up at all… but proudly presenting Random Rhythms of my Soul

I love school holidays… so much more time to do stuff, lovely to see how the kids relax and adopt a slower pace that allows them to explore new ideas and things. We have finally left the house on a few occasions, the weather has been glorious and I am determined to get down to doing some (paid) work this week… in the middle of this chilled groovy atmosphere at home that is going to be hard.

So we have been to Kirribilli Market, where Patrick had a performance. DSCN8996DSCN8994

We took the opportunity to walk part of the Harbour Bridge. DSCN9003We had a BBQ at Clifton Gardens with dogs and Lena had her first swim here in Oz. Some of us jumped off the jetty at Redleaf Pool in the Eastern Suburbs, made mermaid tails out of sand, chilled and chilled some more. We marathon watched ‘Dance Academy’ (an entire season in a few days) and squealed with delight as we recognized locations, especially if we had been there already with Lena. And we certainly have not tidied up the lounge room… DSCN9005

oh no – too many works in progress… projects being added daily… floor being used as ‘design wall’ so dogs can participate and roll on quilt layouts and shuffle and ‘improve’ Lena’s design.

And I finished the quilt. Here it is. I am very pleased with it. DSCN9008Random Rhythms of my Soul.


Covers off!

Spring is here, well and truly. The light is magnificent. The covers for the table and seats have come off. It’s warm – the verandah is the centre of the universe again. This week I have used it 3 times for meals and the entire feeling of living here has totally changed.DSCN8315

In the absence of a work bench, I even mounted the quilt layers together on the floor of the verandah… until the light was fading… while some pixies slaved away in the kitchen.DSCN8317 Ready to quilt…


While the Cat is away…

… the house is very, very quiet… the only activity seemed to happen at the dining room table…DSCN8305

Patrick, Lena and Jo took off into the bush yesterday morning, in the rain, with hope that it would not rain as much in the Blue Mountains. So with half of our family away, the house seemed empty. Even more so, since Vincent was sick in bed – so Esther and I just took it very easy. We watched her kind of movies, ordered pizza and ate on the sofa and I started something very, very simple on the unused table.DSCN8302

This block is the ‘Bow Tie’, a traditional block which I just love. It is very dynamic, yet so simple. Most patterns recommend that the effect of the middle square is achieved by sewing a little colored triangle on the light colored squares of the block. Like this: Screen shot 2014-09-07 at 9.07.01 AM










But I don’t really like it at all – the middle square is chopped and I think it really interferes with the simplicity of the overall look. And in addition, if the middle square is a real square set diagonally in relation to the big squares – then the diagonal (bias) edges of the big squares are prevented from stretching by the straight grain of the little centre square.

I just ironed the corners of the big squares out of the way, sewed all 4 seams of the block (sewing over the folded corners to hold them back), pressed the seams, pinned the small square in place – BAM… easy:


And then in the end, you upload a nice movie or two, order some pizza and hand sew the little squares in, before cutting the excess fabric… repeat until sufficient blocks have been sewn and then put it all together.DSCN8304

It’s not like I don’t have enough quilts on the go as it is… I think I am currently working on 3 hexagon quilts, one huge Wedding Ring… but this is quick and easy and gets an instant result… works perfectly as a little creative ‘pick me up’…




A Quilt Top in a Day!!!

Yes, not just in a day, during ‘school hours’! It’s school holidays, so school hours don’t matter (getting kids there in time, getting there for timely pick up)… but it still seems to be a unit of time we tend to use in the holidays!

Becky had a vague idea… she finally wanted to use all those fat quarters that she had been hoarding. With plenty of freshly baked bread, cake, muffin and flapjacks and coffee we were set. I left the kitchen in whatever state I found it this morning when I got up, just got the ironing board and sewing machine up from the shed and without any further ado we started. This is how this masterpiece evolved:

  1. Becky decided which pieces of fabric she could not bear to cut up
  2. we decided what size was feasible for the majority of squares (10×10″ or 25X25cm) and started cutting on the kitchen table
  3. we made a quick sketch and found that one ‘not to be cut’ piece would go in the center, it was too small – so we put a quick border around it
  4. keeping the ‘big picture’ and size (single bed) in mind, we decided we ought to have 2 1/2 squares either side of the big center piece
  5. two more big ‘not to be cut’ fat quarters should go to the top and bottom, and be connected by plain cream fabric, just as the border of the center piece
  6. cut, sew, press, cut, sew, press, c, s, p and tataaaaa:DSCN6506DSCN6508

Just imagine we had had wadding and backing at hand – we would have basted all the layers together and started quilting it! No stopping us! And whilst we were in action, Emily got inspired and whipped up a patchwork cushion cover!DSCN6505DSCN6509 I am sure we added to the overall happiness factor in the world today! And I cannot imagine to ever make a quilt on my own, surely this is how they are meant to be done…

The Deep – or joining the Bold and Beautiful

Lot’s of activity in the shed. Walter made me tidy the inherited stash, in fact the entire shed and he organised workflow processes for the new Quilt. More of that in a moment. There is more pressing news!

Who knows Tim Winton’s picture book ‘The Deep’??? I read it to Esther for ages, every single evening. It is about a girl who is afraid of the water, all her family swims every day from their jetty, but she just cannot get herself to go into The Deep. One Day, she sits there all by herself and a school of dolphins are playing just in front of her. Before she knows it, she is there, swimming with them, loving it – and when her family sees this and cries out “oh, good on you, you are in The Deep”, she loses all her confidence, plumps to the bottom of the deep, gets up again, takes a deep breath and joins her family!

I nearly drowned in a pool age 7, have not liked the water very much since. I only learned to swim freestyle a few years ago. A secret ambition has been conquering my own personal deep. And today was the day. Thanks to Elizabeth, my BBB (Bold and Beautiful Buddy). She has started in mid- winter and today I joined her!

Click here, a picture from the Bold and Beautiful blog of me and Elizabeth at Shelly Beach will appear !!! The light was amazing, the swim was long (1.5 km!), the water was calm, the temperature freezing (16.6 degrees) and the spirits high! I have done it!

There were moments of despair, when I realized on the return swim that I was nearly the last swimmer. All sorts of thoughts went through my mind… no fear of sharks, but just irrational deep emotions of loneliness and forlornness – I felt sooo little, such a tiny dot in the universe. That was a very humbling experience! But I just took one stroke at a time to save myself from irrationality and on the last stretch, the gentle waves helped me along. WOW.

Here is where ‘The Quilt’ is up to

It sure is growing… slowly… and this is addictive. I will name it The Quilt, because that is what it is, the archetypal quilt in every sense. Design is ‘as we go’, fabric collected from the shed floor… you know, that sort of thing.

Saved by Walter!!!

Meet Walter, the steampunk fellow who has been living with us since fathers’ day! He belongs to my husband and Esther and I had great fun creating him in the shed. We think in summer he may prefer a mustache to the funny head gear… (which currently makes him look a bit like a piggy).

Walter was born in the shed when there was an amazing amount of patchwork activity down there, he knows it all first hand. He also witnessed my increasing frustration and inability to pull it all together what was going on in my head and decide on a clean and interesting design for the new quilt. And then he spoke to me!!! And I listened! And now I am happy, because I have gone back to square one and followed my initial instinct. In fact it is not ‘same old boring scrap fabrics on calico’ – well, may be it is, but it is a design that is clean and that everybody understands and that one can run one’s eye over for years and years without getting bored. Thanks, Walter for saving me!

Now Walter is textileshed’s head of design and production manager. He will keep a close eye on all purchases, production timelines and quality control! Welcome Walter!

So, here is where I am up to, and feeling very happy with this rather slow (hand sewn English Paper piecing) and traditional, but gorgeous new creation using endless amounts of hexagons:

What else?

Knitting is still happening. Many projects on the go, I am sure Walter will keep a keen eye on the completion of all before I start anything new.

  • The Dhalia cardigan is just about finished, just got to finish the last sleeve (a few inches), sew in the ends and get it off to Rebecca’s friend who is about to visit her in New York.
  • the red wool from Shetland is waiting to be turned into a vest for my boss’ partner (shame I could not convince him to have some decorative feature added…)
  • the grey cable cardigan needs a big cable band for the hem, it is just too short… it may turn into a huge alteration (new button and neckband…), but it will be worth it
  • my yarns from Edinburgh would like to be turned into a Fairlisle cardigan for myself
  • Timothy’s Bull has been hijacked by his brother Edward: Tim is still in Vietnam and Ed tried the jumper on for quality control, asserted it was going to be too small for Tim and I understand he has now kept it! Hhhmm, I will just order a few more balls of grey and hopefully get another one finished by the time Timothy will be home at Christmas…
  • there is some nice plain cream cotton in my stash that would be great to use for a cardigan for Josephine

This is what we got up to yesterday – we caught a swarm of bees from the neighbor’s garden! This swarm of wild Italian bees has been living in our gum tree for ages, last week they swarmed, a big humming cloud was hovering over our neighbor’s garden! And after 10 minutes the magic was gone and I couldn’t see where they had settled. Patrick spotted them yesterday under a low hanging rose bush!

Patrick just put a spare beehive box under the swarm and shook the branch to make them tumble into their new home!

And we know the bees are happy because they have their bums in the air, which means in bee language: “Hey guys, we found a new nice home, come and join us!”

And here is the ‘evacuation’ procedure from bush to box for the last bees!

Stashing Sadness

A friend’s grandmother passed away and my friend kindly donated bags of fabrics to me. I was filled with sadness going through these bags. So many ideas, so many patterns pinned to garments, so much effort, so much time and thought in these bin liners. Notes, who what dress was made for, what alterations to perform next time…

And a whole box of retro sewing patterns!

I know, I am lecturing to myself – but be warned against the stashing craze… I don’t want this to be me when I go!

This is topical, because I have been back from my trip for nearly 3 weeks and am spending a lot of time catching up on house, home and paperwork. So there is not too much head space for ongoing and to be finished projects. How do I deal with this – I start something new! Bad girl. I am using scraps for a English Paper piece project, something that requires no brain work, just stitch the hexagons, plan and play – execute the design (which will have evolved and changed many times) when I have enough.

Patchwork and Quilt Design made easy

This is my first ever quilt. Let me tell you about the ‘design’. I had the idea of making little, manageable blocks, the small squares and alternate grey squares. Easy enough, hey? And then I just got very bored… and to alleviate that boredom, I designed squares the size of 9 small squares, still easy? I think so! At that stage – and no earlier! – did I give the overall design and size (it ended up being nearly 2 x 3 meters) some thought, designed and sewed two more squares in a different design and then I went for the center medallion. Finally I gave the edge some thought, at that point everything had to go very quickly… Needless to say, I had no rotary cutter or special patchwork ruler, and no clue about quilt making.

And voila!

What I am saying is

  1. quilt making and patchwork can be intimidating for novices. I understand that. But nowadays we are far too bogged down by the ‘right way of going about things’ – and that is stifling all of us. Taking advice is great, but researching first, to the extend that it feels insurmountable to start, is limiting our creativity. What a shame that is!
  2. it is ok to just start and see where it takes you. Have a go, get to know what you are doing ‘hands on’ and then fill the gaps with further research – that way you are less likely to put things in the ‘too hard basket’. The design process can, and indeed should be an organic one!

Flower Power is finished!

There is nothing like competition to get things done, eh?

Flowerpower is proving the point. All that chat and talk about starting ‘yet another’ project… (And I really cannot wait to start on the black and white and red quilt!). I finished quilting the last side in no time. Loving it – it is nice to have a hand stitching project like this. I just don’t get to the machine these days.