Thursday 30 November 2023

November Stitching Round Up

Another month has whizzed by and it is time to see what I managed to get done on the stitching front and how I went with my goals.

As previously mentioned, I did get my Table Runner completed, and for once, not at the last minute.

Yes, I know that I had said I would have a little break until the start of next year, but I think the crumb pieced blocks I made will probably be used in the RSC in 2024. Does that count?

I have knitted two more lacy covers for coat hangers, but have not got around to padding the coathangers and finishing them off.  I really need to get stuck in and finish them soon.

This seems to be a month of fiddle fiddling and not necessarily finishing things.  Which, in other words, means that I have started yet another project, this time some crochet.
I went to a garage sale recently and came home with this basket of 8 ply acrylic oddments for the princely sum of $2, including the basket.  The colours are nice and bright and I wanted to have a play.  
I have decided to make a granny rug and use the treble spike stitch in some parts of the squares.  There is only enough for a small rug. Most of the acrylic I have in my stash is darker or more muted colours, so I may have to keep my eye out for some more oddments…….just what I need.  Anyway, it will be a good project to just pick up when I want something to work on without too much thinking.
This is what I have done so far.  Each square seems to take just under an hour to make.  I have quite a bit of cream yarn in my stash, so I may do a final round in that and use it to join the squares together…..or I might change my mind completely.  Who knows?

I have already shared the little cross stitch that I stitched on the spur of the moment.
When I purchased the red holly Sashiko panel I also bought a Celtic inspired Christmas tree panel, which I have now stitched.  This needs to be turned into a wall hanging before Christmas.  I have found a suitable hanger stashed away, so just need to get in a get it done.  Once again, I think that the KISS principle will be best.  Let’s keep it simple.

As I was at a bit of a loose end as to what to take to my stitching mornings I picked up a project that has been languishing in my sewing room for far too long.
This little stitchery has done many miles on our holidays, but I never seemed to feel enthused to work on it.  I think the problem has been that I traced in on dark linen and it is hard to see.
The pattern is one by Jenny of Elefantz.  She designed it in 2017 from a quote I told her about.  The story goes that the high school I went to was the school that all the deaf kids in the district went to.  Their teacher was a keen photographer and they had a dark room and did quite a bit.  When I was in Year 12, they took a portrait photo of each of us and at our graduation there were posters around the wall of the venue with our portrait and a quote about us underneath.  This was the quote under mine.  It suited the theme that Jenny was exploring that year.

I still can’t say that I am enjoying  the process of stitching it, but will persevere, as the end result will be worth it.

Yes, finally I have quilted another quilt.  This time it was the little Minnie Mouse quilt that I pieced last month.  I still have several more to do, but at least it is something.
The backing is a soft pink with a paisley design in white.  Once again I have just used the swirly pantograph.  It seems to work on most quilts.

The Minnie Mouse quilt will be donated.

The Minnie Mouse quilt would count as a WIP and the “Quiet Life” stitchery very definitely falls into the UFO category.  Let’s hope we can move it to the completed list before too long.

I didn’t do too badly on this, despite the new start.
I had already shared the new ironing board cover. So, that in addition to the Sashiko runner, the little cross stitch picture and the Minnie Mouse quilt isn’t too bad an effort.  Mind you, it is less than I had hoped for, but that doesn’t matter.

I thought this month was going to be a bit quieter than the last couple, but it didn’t end up panning out that way, so I am really pleased that I managed at least a little bit of stitching every day, except for one.  Considering that on that day we travelled to Sydney and back and then had unexpected visitors arrive to stay, I think I will excuse myself.

So, to my stats:
15 minutes day/November = 29/30
15 minutes/2023 = 314/334
Success Rate = 94.01%.   I’m happy with that.

I’m rather surprised at how many little bits and bobs I have work on this month.  It is good to have a few finishes in there too.  What has been missing is progressing the larger ongoing projects.  I will get back to them, but need to be able to set aside a block of time to get set up for the next stages.  I doubt that will happen until the start of the new year.  In the meantime, I am enjoying playing with smaller projects, just for fun.

Monday 20 November 2023

That Wasn’t Expected

A few months ago I brought Mum’s knitting needles and crochet hooks home, as she no longer uses them.  They have sat in a plastic bag on my sewing room floor ever since.  Pretty slack, aren’t I.  Anyway, yesterday I decide to finally put them away. 
I set myself up on the ironing board to sort out the crochet hooks, circular needles and double pointed needles.  They were stored in these pretty Cadbury tins.  Sadly, it turned out that the larger tin was rusty on the bottom of the inside and so were some of the needles.  After throwing  out the damaged things everything else needed a good wipe down.  I was going to throw the tin, but Mick suggested that, after a good clean out, I just line it with felt. As he often tells me, he comes up some good ideas.

Why am I telling this tale?  Because, as a result of this occurring on my ironing board, there was rust all over the cover.  Not ideal for doing the ironing, which was waiting to be done.  OK, let’s wash the cover.
However, looking at it, I thought it was actually time to retire it.

I made this cover back in 2019.  Pop over and have a read.  I made a second one at the time, so I would just get it out and use it……..except I have obviously put it in a very safe place…..which I cannot find at the minute!  Blast!  On to Plan B - the unexpected bit.

Earlier this year I found this fabric on special and thought it would be good for the next ironing board cover I would make.  Not a lot of pink and aqua, as in my sewing room, but still a bit and hexies won the day.
That looks a bit better. This design works really well as it is nicely fitted over the pointy end of the board.

I wrote a bit about the process last time, so this time I made some better notes.  It would have been smart to pop over and read my old post before starting on this version, but it still worked out OK.  The beauty is that it doesn’t have to be perfect, as you can’t see underneath.

So here is what I did.
Like last time, I used my old one as a template.
I even drew the shape you have to cut for future reference.  I reused the elastic from last time, which I think came from the one before.  It is starting to lose some stretch. 
The bottom bit is easier cut when folded.  If I had read my earlier post I would have cut  the short straight section as a curve, but I was still able to make it work.

Overlock/zig zag all raw edges.
Turn under 1” on long sides and straight end.  Stitch to make a casing, easing around the curves.
Thread the elastic in the casing, securing at each end with a zig zag. (You may have to adjust it at the end if it is a bit too long.)
Join the two longer diagonals together with a 1/2” seam. Press open.
Join the short diagonal curves with the centre curve.
Turn out and place on the ironing board.
Job done.  It doesn’t take very long and makes the ironing board look so much better.  Hopefully, I will find the other one I made and put it somewhere I will remember for future use.

As I said, not what was expected today. 

Sunday 19 November 2023

One Monthly Goal Completed

At the start of the month I made it my One Monthly Goal to complete the Sashiko holly table runner.
This is where I started at.
The more I thought about it, the less I liked the idea of the grey border/s.  I ended up deciding on a narrow border of cream with red spots and a second border of a red print.  This would not detract from the stitching.
I finally started work on it today and cut out and added the first border……..and then decided that I wouldn’t even add the second one.  The good old KISS principle.  I just added the backing and wadding and bagged it out to keep it relatively flat on the edges.  It isn’t very large, but will work on either the dining table or the coffee table.  I think it turned out rather well.

I’ll be linking up with Stories From the Sewing Room at the end of the month.

Wednesday 15 November 2023

Something From Nothing

Isn’t it cute.
It all started with this little frame.  When we were packing up the white elephant stall at the church fete, about three weeks ago, it was there, unsold…..unloved… pieces… the rubbish box, so I brought it home.  It even looks like it has a little face.  The opening is two and a half inches square.  I thought it would be cute with a teensy weensy patchwork block or cross stitch…..and put it aside.
Fast forward to yesterday, when I found this freebie pattern.  I had a quick count of the stitches and if I used 18 count Aida it would fit in the frame.

I thought it would be the perfect project to take to my patchwork group this morning, so I went into my stash of Aida and linen and found the perfect sized scrap of Aida.  OK, I would have bought it…..about 30 years ago, so not technically free, but near enough.  Then to get some threads.  I didn’t want to go down the orange and black Halloween colours. 
Now to backtrack.  Early last year a friend gifted me a nearly completed cross stitch bookmark kit that had been gifted to her in a destash.  I finished the bookmark and there were loads of threads left over.  So many threads for a small bookmark.  Let’s use some of them.
All set to go.
I made a good start this morning and then this afternoon I sat on the back verandah and finished off the stitching.  It looked rather too green until I added the little checkerboard border.
Ta da!  Isn’t it cute.  I’m really happy with how it turned out.  And all from little bits and pieces of nothing much. The little frame hasn’t languished in a cupboard and some other scraps were used.   Now to find somewhere to display it.

Friday 10 November 2023

Playing With Scraps

I have been playing with scraps over the last few days.  Why?

1.  I’m starting to think about Rainbow Scrap Challenge for 2024;
2.  I want to have a play with crumb piecing;
3.  My little scrap tub on my cutting table is overflowing; and
4. Maybe it is a diversionary tactic to avoid dealing with the mess that is still in my sewing room…….OK, this is the main reason.
My scraps are stored in these little tubs above my sewing area and sorted by colour.  
So, what do I consider a “Scrap”?  For some it is anything smaller than a fat quarter, for others it is much smaller.  For some it is nothing smaller than 2 1/2”, for others nothing smaller than 1 1/2”.  For some everything is cut into specific sizes.  For me it is much less rigid.  Most of my “Scraps” are less than the size of a layer cake.  They are not cut to specific sizes.  They can be strips, chunks, triangles and some are really small, as they are still useable for appliqué.  However, they have just been chucked into the tubs and aren’t terribly user friendly.  I have been using any pieces that I can in the RSC over the last couple of years, so there aren’t many left.   I do have one tub with scraps of binding and some 2 1/2” short strips.
I have wanted to try some crumb piecing for quite a while, but can never decide what size to make and how I would then use the finished blocks.  In the end I decided to just have a play and decided to make the blocks six inches square.  That is easy to square up with my little ruler and small rotating cutting mat.  I just pulled random pieces out and was very happy with the result.  Best of all, it was fun.
What did become apparent was that I really needed to get the scraps a bit more organised, so I pressed them all and then put them back into the tub, sorted into large chunks, 5”, 4 1/2”, 4”, 3 1/2”, 3”, 2 1/2”, 2”, 1 1/2”, random strings and then all the tiddly bits were put into a zip lock bag.  Some of those sizes only had one or two pieces, but at least they were in some sort of order.  I didn’t cut anything down, except to trim little bits. I was surprised at how many random strings I had.
Now that it was in some sort of order I made another block, this time an improv log cabin.  I really like how it turned out.  This makes good use of all those random strings, as I don’t want to make any diagonal string blocks at this stage.

All enthused, I then started to press and organise some other colours.  I don’t have much orange or purple, so not sure what I can do with those, probably just let them breed some more.
I was surprised how much yellow I have, so made a couple more blocks.

I have quite a bit of green, but I know I have to cut lots of leaves for the Laundry Basket Mystery Quilt that is waiting patiently for me to get back to it, so I  pressed and sorted them but didn’t make any blocks.

The tub with the most scraps was unsurprisingly the blue one.  There were so many tiddly pieces that I actually sorted them into triangles and other bits.

I decided that I would sort the blues into dark, light and aqua/turquoise and make a block of each.
It created another mess along the way.

I made a dark and an aqua block and decided to go with the log cabin style again and in the end struggled to have enough long strings for the final sides.  I still have to have a go with the light blue scraps.  

The next aqua and dark blocks will have to be random crumb piecing.  There are so many little triangles that I could have a session of just creating tiny improv HST to use.

That’s as much as I have done at this stage.  I did enjoy it and hope to do some more.

Did I do anything with the little scrap bin on the cutting table that is overflowing?  Mmmm, nope.  It is still sitting there.

What will I do with the crumb pieced blocks?  I dunno.  Maybe I could add points and turn them into twelve inch star blocks?  Maybe I could add a shadow on two sides?  There are endless possibilities.  There are still plenty of little scraps to play with.  I’d like to use a lot of them.  I’m not sure what I will do with the black/grey, brown/tan and low volume scraps.  I think they can just breed for the moment.

As far as making scraps, I think that when I need a couple of 2 1/2” squares of tone on tone fabrics, I may cut a complete strip off the fat quarter and start to accumulate those strips for future use.  We’ll see.

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Out and About Again

There is so much on around the place at this time of year that we never seem to be at home.

On Tuesday last week it was time to take my car to Orange for its annual service, so a good excuse for a day out.  Unlike last year, when it snowed on us up there (yes, in November) it was a glorious day.
I visited their beautiful Cook Park.  Like Bathurst, their park now has a significant grey flying fox colony.  These animals create quite a bit of controversy in both towns, as they are not something that ever lived in this area.  Some want them to be moved on, while others are saying they are endangered and it is our fault they are there as there is not as much of their native habitat around. All I know is that we are now told to avoid parts of the parks due to the chance of having an unpleasant gift land on us from above.  There is even quite a bit of daytime activity as the bats vie for room in the trees.
The flowers beds were looking lovely.
As the car was dropped off fairly early, it was a good excuse to enjoy a sneaky second breakfast at the garden centre.  It’s a beautiful setting.
 This was much larger than expected, so there was no need for any lunch that day.
While wandering around town I came across a new to me mural.  There seems to be impressive wall art everywhere you go now.
The side of one of the supermarkets has also received a colourful treatment.  This is a 1970s building with a textured treatment on the front wall, which was never originally painted.  If you look at it straight on it is white.  If you look at it approaching from the other side it is white.  The colour is only painted on the one side.  So simple, but so effective.
Next up, on Thursday, we popped along to the Lifeline Book Fair.  There were so many books.  They had a section beautifully decorated for Christmas.  You could buy one of those book stacks as a Christmas tree.  Maybe I could do something similar with some books from here.
The next thing was to guess how many books were in the Christmas tree. It looked so good.  I’d love to know how many there actually were, but haven’t been able to find it anywhere. There would have been many hundreds.
A few books possibly came home with us.  Mick has no shortage of reading material at the present time, and I found a couple of interesting ones too.
I was particularly pleased with these two that were issued by museums.  At $3 each, an absolute bargain.
On Saturday morning we had a quick trip down to Wallerawang, near Lithgow, to attend their biannual quilt show.  I only heard about it by pure chance a couple of days before.
It is hosted by the Friends of St Johns Church. Silly me, I forgot to take a photo of the exterior of the church, as it is a beautiful sandstone building.
Each time they have a challenge theme.  This year the them was “Green” and you could vote for people’s choice.  Next time it will be black and white.

Let’s have a little look at what was on show.
There were some lovely quilts for such a small group of women.
We then had to head back home as we were having visitors for the next couple of nights.

The next day the four of us headed up to to Millthorpe for their annual Garden Ramble.  We haven’t attended this for many years.  There was a variety of town and country gardens.  I’ll just share a random sampling.  Once again, we had the perfect weather for visiting gardens.
There was a nice variety of garden sculptures and bits and bobs.  Here are some of our favourites.
That will probably be the last of the open gardens we visit this spring.  We were spoiled for choice this last weekend, as not only were the Millthorpe gardens open, Blackheath had their Rhododendron Festival, which we have never visited, but hope to one year, and Crookwell also had their open gardens.  That would make a wonderful weekend away.  We did visit one garden down there many years ago and would love to see more.