Friday 30 June 2023

End of Month Stitching Update

Here it is at the end of the month and halfway through the year.  Where did that go?

I have just realised that my last update was back on the 12th of June.  I have a little more to show for my time.   I did meet every goal that I set for the month, which I’m pretty happy about.

Firstly, to my One Monthly Goal…..

My goal was to complete the butterfly quilt using the Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks that I made last year.  The blocks went together quickly, but then I couldn’t find the white border fabric I had cut and taken to Scrub Stitchin’, in case I got up to that.  Obviously, I didn’t.

I went to get some more white fabric and came across some left over white on white wide back from my doiley quilt and then remembered that the butterfly blocks were all made with that fabric.  The white homespun I had previously prepared would have been all wrong.  Fortunately, there was sufficient left to make the borders.
It didn’t take long to have the top put together.

At that point I decided to go down another rabbit hole….

While in my storage area, I came across a half metre of Paw Patrol fabric that I had found in an op shop on our recent Queensland trip.  I’d been playing around with patterns suitable for donation quilts and this fabric was just shouting out to me to play with it.  I found a suitable hot pink fabric, which was also an op shop find and in my stash I had a blue that matched perfectly.  There was enough of the white on white wide back for that quilt as well.
The design called for twelve blocks, but I worked with nine.  The pattern repeat was perfect for eight inch square block, but my half metre, was only enough to cut eight.  Therefore, a star block was made for the centre and it worked out just fine. 
I had the quilt top made in an afternoon.
The backing is made from a brand new cot quilt cover that I found in an op shop.  One side wasn’t quite long enough, so needed some creativity.  There were a few strips of the Paw Patrol fabric that would be no use for anything and they worked really well on the back.  Now there is none left, which is the perfect outcome.

On Monday, I finally excavated Monique my quilting machine and my sewing machine.  
Firstly, I quilted the Paw Patrol Quilt, just so that I could get back in the rhythm of things.  There were a few hiccoughs, with thread breaking and running out of bobbin and then having tension issues but we got there in the end.  I’m glad I did it first.  I used a pantograph of butterflies.  
On Tuesday, I quilted the butterfly quilt, just using the scroll pantograph.  It went well.  The backing is a pretty floral flannelette.

Then after I finished quilting the butterfly quilt, I completed the binding on both of them.  
Paw Patrol is fully machined.  I’m really happy with how this quilt has turned out. 
There was still enough of the white on white fabric to make the binding for the butterfly quilt, with about 2 inches of fabric left over.  Once again, a perfect result.  This one was finished by hand, as I machined the binding to the front of the quilt instead of the back, but it does give a lovely finish.

I’m so very happy with how this little quilt turned out.  The pattern is a freebie by Connie Kresin.

Both of these quilts will go to Ronald McDonald House.  I have a few accumulated now, so we will take a run up there in the not too distant future.  I hope some little people enjoy them.
My next task was to make the blocks for the Laundry Basket Mystery Quilt.  Week 3 consisted of twenty “daisy” blocks, using a variety of yellows and corals.  I am aiming to keep up to date with the blocks as they are revealed, but have fallen short.   I have not made Week 4’s blocks and I haven’t started this week’s either.  I need to get a bit of a wriggle on.
There was a little hiatus with machine sewing for a few days, during which I went down yet another rabbit hole…….
We went into an op shop in Anna Bay - more on that later - and I found this ball of yarn.  It is a Caron Skinny Cake. 250g of 8 ply.  I had planned on starting a new knitting project while away and just happened to have a 4.00mm crochet hook in my knitting bag………(The knitting project will wait till a later date.)
I decided to start a giant granny square rug.  Something totally mindless that I can pick up quickly.  Perfect for travelling.  This is where I’m up to.  I’ve used nearly half of the ball, so it won’t be all that big, but a nice little baby rug. It will need some serious blocking when finished.
I also managed to stitch the centres on my final Dresden fans for the Blue Quilt.  That means that all my EPP components have now been completed.  It is time to do some more prep so that I can start appliquéing them to the quilt borders.
Surprisingly, considering everything else we have been up to, I managed to complete at least 15 minutes of stitching each day for the entire month.

My stats to date are as follows:

15 minutes a day/week = 7/7
15 minutes a day/June = 30/30
15 minutes a day/2023 = 169/181
Success rate = 93.37%

I’m linking up at Elm Street Quilts, So Scrappy and Life in Pieces.

Wednesday 14 June 2023

Travelling All Over The Countryside

This last weekend was the Queen’s King’s Birthday Long Weekend.  That will take a bit of getting used to.  It is also the traditional Bonfire Night weekend.

Last year we went to the community bonfire down at Portland and thoroughly enjoyed it, so we went again this year. It is held on the site of the former cement works, which has some wonderful old industrial buildings. 
I’d hoped to see the painted silos in the late afternoon sunlight, but we were a fraction too late.  They are still nice to see.  As you can tell, the weather was crystal clear, which bode well for the smoke from the bonfire, but also meant it would get quite cold.
As a part of the event, there are twilight markets in the old industrial buildings.
The bonfire was lit just on dark.  Now that is quite some fire.
We were rugged up, but were quite warm from the heat of the bonfire.  Note that Mick was wearing his new beanie.  It kept his ears nice and toasty.
Behind us, the old buildings look so good in the night.
There was live music, and they played continuously for the whole time we were down there.
I love a good silhouette.
We like to play at looking for monsters and creatures and faces in a fire and had some success this year. Can you see the poodle’s head?  Or maybe it’s a lamb?
There was also a snake’s head.
And a crocodile’s head with its mouth open.
The highlight of the evening was the fireworks display.  
It is rather handy that one of Australia’s main fireworks companies is quite nearby.
After the fireworks it was time to head home.  Once we left the fire, we discovered that it was quite cold, actually down to freezing point and it was only 8 o’clock.  Brrr!
We were out and about on Sunday too.  We had bought some honey at the Rockley Markets just before Christmas and wanted some more, so off to the markets we went.
It was a picture perfect morning and surprisingly warm.  They are a lovely market to visit.  Yes, we bought the honey we went for, as well as some fresh quinces, sauce, dried flowers, coffee and cake.  You have to have coffee and cake at events like this.  We could have bought much more, but we think we came home with enough as it was.
While in the village we notice that there is a new store opposites the pub.  When Mick was a kid, this was one of two general stores in the village, this one being Cullins store.  Mick’s family did much of their shopping there, as it stocked all sorts of things.
It now stocks all sorts of things, but more in the bric a brac and craft lines. Isn’t that light well in the ceiling wonderful.
Mick was pleased to see that many of the original fittings are still in place.
The village was a hive of activity, being a long weekend and sunny weather.  Of course, the fact that Matt Moran now owns the pub is a bit of a drawcard.
Once we left Rockley, we had to drive up to Orange for a family lunch, but took the scenic route, as we are inclined to do.

We had a bit of a bonus along the way…..
There were steam trains running out of Bathurst over the long weekend.  We have been on rides over the last few years, so didn’t bother this time.  Well, coincidentally, the train was just where we were driving, so we did a bit of train spotting.
There was a vintage diesel engine at the back that was helping on the steepest grades.
It was fun having the train travel beside us for a little while.
And then we had to wait at the crossing for it to pass, as we were taking a minor road as part of our scenic detour.
After lunch, as the weather was so nice, we decided to drive to the top of Mount Canobolas to see what we could see.  Mount Canobolas has an elevation of 1397 metres above sea level and is the highest point between the east and west coasts of Australia at its latitude.  Even though it is about 75kms from our home, you can see it from the hill behind us.

The explorer Major Thomas Mitchell was the first European to climb the mount in 1835, when he was setting off on his journey to explore he course of the Darling River.

Of course, there was a long standing connection to the Wiradjuri people, being a sacred initiation ground for young men and for making stone tools, as well a rich food source.
The main point of reference when looking for Mount Canobolas from the distance is all the communications towers on the summit.
You can see forever from up there, but we were surprised at how hazy it was in the distance.

And so ended another fun filled weekend. We were so lucky to have beautiful weather for both days, as Monday ended up being cold and bleak. As a result, we didn’t mind at all staying home.

Tuesday 13 June 2023

The Bridle Track

Last Sunday Mick and my brother were planning on going fishing along the Bridle Track, but that didn’t eventuate.  However, on Tuesday last week, as the weather was rather nice, Mick and I decided to go for a drive out that way.

A bit of history…..

The Bridle Track runs from Bathurst to the mining town of Hill End through extremely rugged country and was established in the 1850s.  The main road to Hill End is via the village of Sofala, whereas the Bridle Track takes a much more direct route following the Macquarie River.  It derives its name from the fact that it was only wide enough to walk or take a horse, but was too narrow to take a carriage of any description.  Over the years it has gradually been widened, but remains a very narrow unsealed track and is popular with 4WD enthusiasts, campers and fisher folk.  You can read more about it here.  It is quite an interesting story.

Back in April, we took Lou and Tony up to Hill End for a lovely day out.  You can read about it here
We went up to a lookout and you can see the type of landscape that the Bridle Track had to negotiate.  Not just a gentle stroll in the park.

Mick and I have camped out that way a few times when attending the annual Sidecar Rally that for many years was held at one of the campgrounds.  Sadly, it is not held there any more.  I have a couple of photos from those weekends in my Motorcycles page, if you want to see where we were and what our setups were.

A notorious part of the track is Monaghan’s Bluff, which basically is a single track around the side of a cliff, with a horse shoe bend in the middle.  It is a long way up to the top of the cliff and a long way down to the river at the bottom of the cliff.  There was a big rock fall there in 2010 and the Track was closed.  While it was closed there was a smaller rock fall and it was decided that it is too dangerous and unstable to repair that part of the road.  A new road has now been built to bypass that section of the Track and was opened earlier this year.

So, without further ado, let’s go for a drive……

Not exactly a motorway.
This is the sort of track that a lot of it is like.
A lot of the Track runs beside the Macquarie River.  There were plans in the late 1970s to build an army base out here.  Some locals were greatly opposed to the idea and started to share photos of the river.  Most of us in Bathurst had no idea that there was such stunning scenery not far from town.  Fortunately, the base never proceeded and the landscape is still wild and greatly untouched.

One of the main reasons for our trip was to see what the new road was like.  It is a highway compared to the rest of the Track.  The road builder has done a fantastic job in really difficult conditions.  Apparently, they had to blast rock nearly all the way, as it was too hard to use conventional methods.  
You can see here where the new road heads up the hill and the old road turned left to go along the side of the cliff.
There were a couple of spots on the new road where you could pull over and have a look around.  It’s a long way down to the river.

We were parked pretty much above Monaghan’s Bluff and Mick decide to put the drone out to see what he could see.  I can’t show it all that well here, but it really did give a good indication of just how scary that bit of road was and you realise it was definitely a good idea to find an alternative.
You can see here how narrow the road was and you can see one of the rockfalls.
Once we were back down by the river we found a nice camping area to have a picnic lunch and for Mick to try his luck at catching a fish.  He didn’t have any luck.  That was the other reason we went out when we did, as the fishing season closed this weekend.  You can potentially catch trout, carp and Murray Cod, an Australian native fish.
While Mick fished, I knitted. 
Not a bad place to be sitting and knitting.
Back on the road to Hill End there is some lovely rock work from many years ago.
This river crossing is entitled “Root Hog Crossing”.  We didn’t need to go there, but it is popular with serious 4WD drivers.  Before the rocks were placed to show the way, many drove straight across and ended up in a very deep hole.  One world renowned motorcycle rallyist nearly drowned there some years ago.
We timed our trip perfectly, being on a Tuesday, as the road was really quiet.  There had been a light shower of rain the night before, so we could see tyre tracks on the road.  There had only been one motorcycle on the road before us on that day.  While Mick had the drone out one vehicle went past, in the same direction as us and another went passed while we were having lunch.  At another spot, while we were pulled over, a local farmer on his motorbike pulled over for a yarn.  This was the only vehicle we met heading in the opposite direction all day.  Fortunately, there was sufficient room to pull over to pass each other.

Now, if it had been on a weekend, and particularly on a long weekend, it would be incredibly busy with 4WDs and campers.  The farmer said it is quite scary how fast they go and where they go, getting in trouble and then expecting the locals to pull them out.  Of course, now that the new stretch of road has opened, there are even more people wanting to see what it is like. No thanks. We’ll stay away on the weekend.
The Track turns away from the Macquarie River and you have to cross the Turon River at a causeway.
From there it is the steep climb up Hawkins Hill to Hill End. Only Aussies would deface a sign like that.
Anyway, after a rough, steep climb you suddenly pop out into village of Hill End.
We were too late to get a coffee from the General Store, so a cuppa from the thermos and bickie in the park were in order. This one tree shone like a beacon.
Everything seemed to glow in the afternoon light.
And another colourful tree.
We returned home via the much less adventurous Turondale Road.  The little corrugated iron church is always a favourite landmark.

We arrived home just on dark, after a thoroughly enjoyable day out.  One of the perks of not having to go to work any more.