Wednesday 31 January 2024

End of Month Stitching Wrap Up

 I have rather surprised myself with how much I achieved this month.  I suppose the enthusiasm of a new year and some new challenge parties is always encouraging.  Also, it has been a relatively quiet month for us in general, which has created more time for playing.

So how did I go with my goals?

The Scrub Stitchin’ Bag ticked a couple of boxes, being the Chookshed Stitchers’ Challenge and the One Monthly Goal.  The little scrap was turned into a bookmark.

I worked on my split nine patches and then started “Fishy Business” for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

I’m a bit ahead on the Just Two Charm Pack Quilt Along.

For my knitting or crochet project I crocheted twelve of my Spiked Granny Squares, so now have twenty one completed.

My hand stitching included the Srub Stitchin’ Bag and “What Sweet Delight” stitchery.

I worked on two donation projects, being the Winnie the Pooh baby quilts, which also ticked the box for using Monique to quilt them.

I completed three UFOs, being the two baby quilts and the “What Sweet Delight” stitchery.

Two other UFOs were worked on.  I added then next border to the Blue Quilt. Today at my patchwork group I started to remove the papers from the Dresden plates ready to applique onto the final border.

For the Laundry Basket Mystery Quilt I appliquéd four hexy flowers down and traced all the leaves and vines  ready to start the appliqué. 

I completed five projects, including the little bonus bookmark.

As you can probably guess, I managed to work on something for at least 15 minutes every day.

January = 31/31

Year to date = 31/31

Success rate = 100%.

I’m tired just reading all I did.  It is a dead certainty that I will not be that productive for most months during the year,  but it feels good to have made a positive start.

Tuesday 30 January 2024

Phew! I Made It

No matter what, I always seem to achieve one of my monthly goals by the skin of my teeth.  This time it was to work on a donation project and use Monique.  I knew what I wanted to do, I just had to get a wriggle on and do it.

Way back in November 2022 I cut out quite a few small quilts to make up for donations and to give me some practice using Monique.  I made some of them, but there were still a few languishing in their tubs.  There were two using Winnie the Pooh fabric.  I knew vaguely what they were but had to get out the pattern to see exactly what I was planning.

It was a couple of rather simple star quilts, using pretty much the same fabrics, but laying out the triangles differently.  It is amazing how different they look.

Yesterday for the first time, I quilted them both at the same time.  They finish at 40 inches, so with the 90 inch wide batting and 108 inch wide back it was ideal.  It worked really well.

I finished them off with their binding today, just in the nick of time to get them done this month.

I was a bit stumped as to what border fabric to use.  This butterfly and beetle one was ideal.  I have quite a bit of yardage that I bought years ago as an end of bolt for next to nothing.  There is a date of 2004 on the selvedge.  

The second quilt used some of the star fabric for the border and just the backing for binding.  The pantograph is “Scroll Work”, a freebie from Urban Elementz.  I find it suits so many quilts.

So, happy dance.  Not only did I tick off my goals, it is two UFOs out of the way as well.  It’s a good feeling.

I have to tell you about my batting purchase last week.

On Wednesday, I went out to Spotlight to buy the embroidery hoop for my little stitchery.  They had 30% off all wadding and with the VIP coupon you could get 50% off Legacy brand.  I normally buy the pre packed Legacy Bamboo/Cotton wadding when it comes on special at $80 for 8 metres.  The normal price is $220, so even at 50% off I left it there.

The next day I received a text message advising that I could get $50 off if I spend $150.  I went onto their website to look a bit more at their wadding.  The Legacy 60/40 cotton/poly wadding is normally $200, but it is 10 metres. For donation quilts that is a better deal.  

Now for the best bit.  On that day, on their web site, they had one of their $80 a pack specials.  It wasn’t even displayed on the stand in the store.  So, I bought two rolls of cotton/poly, which would normally cost $400 for $110 (with the discount and the $50 off).  Instead of $20/metre, it was $5.50/metre.  One happy Janice.  I won’t need to buy any for quite some time.  The hardest part was finding somewhere to stash it……under the spare bed.

Sunday 28 January 2024

Zooming Along

 It was Australia Day on Friday and the weather was very hot, so not the most pleasant for attending community events.  

Therefore, when it was announced that the Chookshed Stitchers were having a Zoom day I was very happy to join in.  Being Australia Day, Chooky decided to ask all participants where they would like to visit in Australia should they have the opportunity.  It was great fun hearing all the different answers.

I had quite a marathon time, jumping in at 6.45am and leaving at 7.30pm…..and I wasn’t the longest participant.  There were over 30 girls who popped in during the day, from all over the world, including a couple of newbys, which was nice.

So, the usual question was what to work on?

To start with I just crocheted another scrappy square in my rug.

I now have twenty.  They look so pretty when all neatly piled up.

What next?  Why not trace off the stems and appliqué leaves for the Laundry Basket Spring Mystery Quilt?  That wasn’t on the immediate agenda, but something that needed doing at some stage.  Sometime soon I will hunt out some green scraps and get the next stage under way.

Quite a few of us had joined in with the Chookshed Stitchers’ Challenge and had allocated our number six project to be the Scrub Stitchin’ Bag or another bag.  We had a little show and tell.  It doesn't show all that clearly, as there were so many of us on screen, but it was fun to see them all together.

Now what?  I don’t usually use my sewing machine while Zooming, but I had all those little strips laid out ready to make sixteen checkerboard blocks.  I supposed I could make a start.  Once they were all done, I decided I may as well start putting the border strips together, so trimmed down the appliqué blocks, as per the top photo.  

By the time I signed off to go and get some tea on, I had two sides attached.   After tea I kept going and by the end of the day the borders were all on.  It is really  taking shape now.  Surprisingly, everything fitted rather well.  I had to ease the border on a little bit, so I will make the next narrow border the correct size and ease it back down, so the quilt doesn’t end up wavy.   It isn’t as bad as the photo shows. That is the plan, anyway.

I just have one narrow border and then the Dresden plate border to go.  I am starting to see the finish line for the top in the distance.

It was a really nice way to spend the day. Thanks Chooky for inviting us all along.  

Saturday 27 January 2024

First UFO Finish For the Year

A few years ago I made a concerted effort to complete some UFOs and was rather successful.  However, in the last couple of years there have been quite a few added to the ones that still remained incomplete.

I’ve made a list of twenty four UFOs for 2024.  That’s pretty sad, isn’t it.  My goal is to complete twelve of them.  All things being equal, it should be quite achievable, as quite a few are quilts just needing quilting. I would actually like to complete quite a few more than that.

I’ve made a very small start and completed one little stitchery.

This is my “A Quiet Life” stitchery, designed by Jenny of Elefantz.  Jennifer’s looks lovely with the fabric border.

This design came about as a result of conversations between Jennifer and myself way back in 2017. Jennifer was dedicating her year to “A Year of Gentle Domesticity” and was extolling the merits of a quiet life.  I told her about this quote.  The history of it dates back to when I was in my final year of high school.  All the deaf kids in our area attended our school and their teacher was a keen photographer.  She had her students take black and white portraits of our class.  At our graduation dinner there were posters of each of us hung around the walls, showing our portrait and with a quote about us underneath.  This is the quote that was underneath mine. I retained that poster for many years, but finally threw it out, after keeping the photo.

Jennifer designed this stitchery and gifted me a copy of the pattern.  I traced it off at the time and started working on it.  However, as I was using a darker linen it was quite hard to see.  It has done many miles with us on our travels, but had made no further progress.

Finally, I made it a priority this year, as I try hard to reduce the number of UFOs that are taking up space in my sewing room.

I framed it very simply in a six inch embroidery hoop.  It now hangs on my “Round Thing Wall” in my sewing room.  It is really nice to have that quote included, as it has such a special meaning.

Sunday 21 January 2024

What Have We Been Up To?

It has actually been a rather quiet time around here, which we are both enjoying immensely.  The weather has been lovely.  We had a couple of days with some rain, receiving about 30mm over a few days.  Not flooding like some places, so just nice for the garden.  The temperature has been reaching the mid to high 20s C.  That is about to change over the next few days, with it supposed to be reaching the mid to high 30s C.  Not so nice.

In the sewing room I have continued to work on the Just 2 Charm Packs Quilt Along, having completed the next 10 blocks.  That means all the blocks are now made.  They aren’t due yet, but there is nothing better than being ahead, rather than behind the eight ball.  I won’t work on this any more this month and will hopefully have the quilt finished in February.

A few more crochet squares have been worked on while watching the cricket.  This is where I am up to now.  I don’t know how big I will make it, but they are a great project to pick up when you just need to make that 15 minutes.

I haven’t worked on my Blue Quilt for a few months and I really want to get this one to the finish line.  The next border consists of the appliqué blocks, which I have already completed, and a lot of checkerboard blocks.  The pattern just says to join width of fabric strips and cross cut.  That would be easy, but I have lots of smaller pieces of fabric I wish to use and which will also make the end result scrappier.  Obviously, this takes more time and is somewhat fiddlier.

I’m making progress, and a great big mess.  Hopefully, they will be finished this month.  If not, at least I will have made some good progress.  The next border that needs a bit of work will be the half dresden plates, which will all need to be appliquéd down.  I really want to get started on that, as it is something that I can take to my stitching mornings. 

I have continued to work on my What Sweet Delight stitchery at my patchwork group mornings and am very confident that it will be completed this month.

And I can report that I have worked on something for at least 15 minutes every day in January……and am having a lovely time doing it.

In other happenings. Mick has continued to work on the fit out of Rosie, the Suzuki Sierra. He has fitted a solar panel, deep cell battery and hooked up a 12v fridge. It is looking good.  We took it for a short drive last weekend and it went well.  There are no creature comforts and the air conditioning is via winding down the window.

I haven’t done a garden update for ages, so will try to do a separate post soon.  In the mean time, here is yesterday's harvest.  We are getting that many beans every day, so loads are being frozen and some given away to neighbours.  We are also getting one, if not two zucchinis each day, so they are being given away too, as well as making zucchini slice for the freezer.  Our tomatoes are not doing well at all this year.  We think it may have something to do with the sudden extreme heat in early December.  Lots of people are having the same issues.  There are a few self sown plants coming up in garden beds, some of which have come up in compost that has been put on the garden.  We are leaving them in place, hoping that they will provide some fruit.  Funnily enough, the healthiest one is in the flower garden by the front door.  This is the first cob of corn we have picked.  We haven’t grown corn since moving here, as we haven’t had the room.  Now that Mick has extended the vege garden, we can plant more variety.  The egg plants are just starting to have fruit large enough to pick.  We will probably have more than we can use of these too.

Last night we had a lovely dinner of homemade chicken rissoles, accompanied by all our own veges and our homemade tomato relish.  It was very good and that cob of corn was just perfect.  We just cook sliced egg plant on the barbie or in a frypan and it is so lovely and creamy.

A common sight at this time of year has always been the Christmas beetle.  However, in recent years they seem to have disappeared.  We heard on the radio that there is now a program where you advise of sightings, so researchers can work out where they are and where they have disappeared from.  Mick found a beetle yesterday and we thought it was a Christmas beetle, as it was the same size.  However, the dark stripe on its back didn’t look right.  After a little Google search, it turns out that it wasn’t a Christmas beetle, rather it is actually a Cowboy Beetle.  We’d never heard of them.  They are an Australian native and live on nectar, so not a pest species.

On Monday I had a day out at Orange, travelling up with my friend.  She is picking and selling beautiful organic blueberries.  We had a lovely time.

Of course, we are enjoying them for our breakfasts.

To finish off, we went on a walk after dinner a couple of days ago and enjoyed this sunset.

Tuesday 16 January 2024

Fishy Business

I didn’t plan on going down any rabbit holes or finding any squirrels at the moment…..but….there is such a wonderful variety of BOMs, and stitch alongs beginning now that are so tempting.

Angie Padilla releases a free block on the 7th of each month for an applique quilt.  I’ve saved the patterns for the last couple of years, but this time I’ve decided to dive in, as they are very simple blocks that would work rather well for a donation quilt or two.  The blocks are free for the first month and after that are only available to her paid subscribers.

As it is a nice and colourful design, I have decided that it would kind of work for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  To make a quilt the size shown requires two of each fish with three extras.  I will initially make two of each, and then decide whether I’ll make the large quilt or two child sized quilts using twelve blocks each.

How I will work it, to save having two of the same fish in the same colour, is to make one fish with the month’s colour as the body and the second using the month’s colour for the accents.  It should be fun.  

For this month I dug out the aqua batik fabric that I have had hiding in the back of the drawer for yonks.  It was bought as the end of a bolt for next to nothing.  I still have loads, so it may even work for a border and backing?  Better still, there was a couple of strips 6 1/2” inches wide.  Bonus!

Anyway, I’m looking forward to finding a variety of blues for the backgrounds and some fun bright colours for the fish.  It will nearly be brighter than the Great Barrier Reef. 

Sunday 14 January 2024

Farewell Joey

 We had to say goodbye to our beautiful Joey on Friday.  


October 2007 - 12 January 2024

Joey had been having trouble with his teeth for a little while, and despite his advanced age of sixteen, we elected to have some removed.  Where the vet expected to find an infection, it revealed cancer in the jaw.  He picked up for a couple of days before rapidly declining.  He is now at peace and no longer in pain.

One of my first blog posts was to introduce Joey and his brother Felix. They were three weeks old when this photo was taken.  I can’t believe how tiny he was.  When we went to select one kitten we ended up with two.  Felix died from snake bite when he was three.  Joey was bitten by a snake in May 2009, at just eighteen months old, but we were able to get him to the vet in time to save him.

I love this photo of him from his first Christmas.  Just as well he didn’t try it again.

A little different to his last.  He grew into a rather large cat.

For the first seven years of his life he was a full on farm cat, being both inside and outside, as he wished.  He loved sitting with the chooks, but was also a rather efficient hunter, to the extent that he was on death row after bringing home an owl!  Luckily for him, we were just about to move back into town, after which he was a 100% inside cat.  We wondered how he would go, but he settled down to that lifestyle very well.

As soon as Mick ever lay on the couch, Joey would leave wherever he was and settle on top of him.

He was an avid sports fan, keeping Mick company whenever he was watching the footy or cricket.

Not that he didn’t like sitting on my lap as well.  He shared his love between us.

Of course, he was an excellent quilt inspector, maintaining this role, right up until the end.

He was a great help in the sewing room too.  This is one of my favourite photos.

It has been a bit quiet and sad around here for the last couple of days.  This is the first time we have been petless, having brought home our first kitten only a week after we set up house together in the mid eighties.  We won’t get another pet at this stage.  That will be a decision for further down the track.  We will see how we go.