Sunday, December 26, 2010

A very swappy Christmas

I've taken part in three Christmas swaps this year and have enjoyed the challenges of each one - trying to find out what my partner would like, then figuring out what to make, then sending off the parcels - with fingers crossed that they actually get there and that my partner will like the contents.

I haven't had a response from any of my partners so far, so won't post any pics of what I made for them.
But here are some photos of the lovely things I received - I am SO lucky.
The pic above shows what I received from Cathy in our Friends in Stitching swap. We are all Aussies, some of us know each other, some of us don't , but we all love our craft and our swaps. My new little bag and needle folder are an Aussie production too, with patterns and fabrics by Rosalie Quinlan. Gorgeous! And choccies, too. Thank you very much, Cathy.

Trash in England was my partner in Chookyblue's SSCS swap; she's an Aussie girl with a great sense of humour who comes from near where I live and I've been lucky enough to meet her twice while she's been visiting Australia. I loved the Christmas ornie she made for me and couldn't wait to open the rest of the parcel (but I did, I WAS good, really I was...) The Lindt chocolate bell and the Santa Kit-Kats were very welcome, I spent ages perusing the patchwork mag and as you can see the runner has been put to good use. It's reversible, too - with a line of three French-themed birds on the back. Love it, love it, love it - thanks so much, Trash.
The last pic shows what I received from Katherine, also in England, in Fiona Marie's Great Global Christmas Swap. The theme was "Bag a Fat Quarter", and we had to send to each other - you guessed it - a small gift bag and a fat quarter. A Bronwyn Hayes redwork stitchery decorates the bag she made me, and because she lives near the sea, she chose a lovely seaside-themed fabric and card to go with it. Brilliant! It wasn't a secret swap, so we had some emails back and forth, getting to know each other, which was really nice. Thank you all so much for the lovely handmade gifts; you really made my Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Making, baking

At the risk of sounding up myself, I think I'm ready for Christmas. Cards are sent, presents wrapped and sent/under the tree, baking done, house decorated, grocery shopping done ....

Of course, publicly declaring that I'm organised may yet bite me on the bum - surely I MUST have forgotten something (something important, not just not sending cards to a few people who have sent me cards and will now receive a new year message sometime in 2011).

Making: I got round to making some ornaments this year. Two hexy ornaments went to my daughter Rosy in China, along with a scarf I made for her from some lovely Japanese fabric (20-25 cm by WOF, stitched on three sides with a gap for turning, pressed, gap stitched, self patted on back - easy peasy).

Another two hexy ornaments went to Linda in California, my partner in Chookyblue's SSCS swap. She displayed them so beautifully on her blog. I put together a kit purchased from Aussie designer Marg Low (fabric, felt, pattern, rusty bell and a wooden angel cut-out designed by Barb Smith from Theodora Cleave); it went together so nicely and looks great on my Christmas tree.

And speaking of Christmas trees - the tree ornament at the left in the top pic came from my other swap partner in the SSCS swap, Trash in England. Love it - and the fact that I've met Trash twice while she's been visiting family (and doing crafty things) in Australia.I can't wait to see what's in the parcel she sent that I'm not allowed to open yet.

And my three brothers received little Santa bags to hang on a door handle. I hope they can work out what those small bags are for!

Baking: - can't show you any of that because it's safely tucked away in the freezer, out of sight, out of mind (hopefully). I made my usual Weight Watchers' Christmas cake (because I like it - the recipe involves lots of dried fruit, coffee, a bar of chocolate and flour, very easy and it always turns out well), spice biscuits, shortbread from my late dad's recipe and mandorla, Italian biscuits made mainly from almond meal and egg whites and topped with a glace cherry - delicious.

So - apart from being unable to work out how to put my photos in the right places, that's my Christmas sorted. If you haven't finished shopping yet, good luck finding a parking spot. And a very merry Christmas to all my bloggy friends and your families; hope you have a wonderful time.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Another giveaway from Corrie

Okay, so I didn't win the Retromummy giveaway last time, but there's hope for me yet, because she's having another one! Yep, Corrie is giving away fat quarters of the gorgeous Flower Sugar fabric. Pop over to her blog to find out more. Thanks so much, Corrie.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fingers crossed

Lovely Retro Mummy Corrie is sharing 14 fat quarters of Rosalie Quinlan's new range with two lucky winners - ain't she sweet! The range is called Sweet Broderie, the fabrics are so fresh and pretty as you can see and (hopefully, I say, with fingers crossed) mine! Pop over to Corrie's blog and have a look; it's all about fabulous fabrics and family life . Nice.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

So much stuff!

Actually, I should change the heading to Too much stuff! because that is what I have in my sewing room, which right now looks as though a tornado has whipped through.

Last weekend I bought a storage chest to house my craft patterns and have had a lovely time sorting them out and also sorting scraps by colour into different bags (and who knows where I'm going to put THEM). The wardrobe is full of STUFF , the chest of drawers is overflowing with fabric, I can't sit on the chair because it's covered in STUFF and the bookshelves are groaning with craft books and magazines.

And it's getting worse because I keep ordering and buying more STUFF - fabrics from the US because the dollar is so favourable, books from Book Depository because the prices are much cheaper than here and there's no postage charge, all sorts of goodies from Annie Flower Garden and Jodie's fabulous crafty garage sale this morning ...

And despite having been doing lots of stitching this month, I haven't actually FINISHED much and now I can't get near the sewing machine because - yes, you guessed it - there's so much STUFF in the way!! Did I hear someone say "destash"???

Not going to post a photo of the disaster zone - it's too scary. But I will have to get a move on with the clearing up because there are Christmas gifts to make and swaps to complete. And more discoveries to be made of things I'd forgotten about/hadn't seen for ages/couldn't find because of having SO MUCH STUFF!! Wish me luck.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Another OPAM finish

Hooray! Another OPAM finish for September. I fell in love with this fabric (purchased at Tessuti in Melbourne) earlier this year and it has been waiting patiently for me to turn it into something pretty/useful/both. What a combination - this fabulous fabric plus Jodie Ric Rac's one-hour bag tutorial (I have to admit it took me way longer than that, in between fluffing around and making other stuff). Anyway, a nice easy project from a great pattern that I have used several times before. Thanks, Jodie! I'm also showing off the My Garden blocks which I mentioned yesterday, when Blogger was not being very obliging.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's in the bag ...

...or at least it was. The online group I belong to, Friends in Stitching, is having a paper bag swap. Each of us had to pop our choice of two fat quarters, some trim and a button into a paper bag to send to our partner, who would make us ... who knows? A covered notebook? A small cushion? A bag? A pincushion? I've just put the last few stitches into what I've made for my partner and I'm so pleased with it I wish it was for me! I've used one of my favourite fat quarter project patterns and the fabrics and trims I was sent were just so nice to work with. Hope my partner likes it! So I've got another OPAM finish to add, and more projects to be getting on with.
Another secret swap, this time for my overseas partner in Fiona-Marie's Great Global Christmas Swap, just needs its handles and a few more stitches. Non-secret sewing includes a bag for me and Lynette Anderson's My Garden blocks.
I am loving both these projects, especially the stitchery bits.
The bag is designed by Jenny of Elefantz, who does such lovely designs. It has a central panel of roses in chain stitch - what a nice change from backstitch, and it looks so effective. I'll be making up the bag with the Verna fabrics
I bought from Jenny's ebay shop.
The My Garden originals are stitched and bordered with muted country colours; I've raided my hideously untidy threads collection to match the bright, pretty pre-cuts I'll use for the borders.

As one of my jobs is in a school library, and it's school hols here in
Victoria, I've had some spare time and am loving being productive and having time to mooch as well.
Now I'm off to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

....and more catching up

I spent my afternoon off this week with one hand up a giraffe's backside. Yes, I know, the things we do. Didn't hurt either of us a bit. My new creation is one of the softies Melly from Melly and Me designed for the Daylesford Craft Experience back in July (it was a great day out and Melly is as lovely as I thought she'd be.) The dear little giraffe is a gift for my new nephew Thomas in NZ. Hope he likes it - do you think he will consider the design merits and how very well it is stuffed as he dribbles on it? Maybe not.

The crafty day out was two days before my trip overseas - what an enjoyable way to get out of packing and house-organising! We've been back home, and back to normal, for three weeks. The weather has been cold and wet for most of that time and it's hard to believe we were away from home for five weeks, seeing fabulous sights, eating wonderful food, having such a good time and feeling WARM.

The highlight of our trip - apart from Monet's garden which is gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous - was spending time with friends and family - Majken in Copenhagen, Jean-Luc and Sylvie and their daughter Anne-Laure in France, John and Carol, our Aussie friends, in a small village in Portugal. Randolph and Sue and their extended family came over to Singapore - where we were staying with Rosy, our daughter, who lives in China - from their home in Johore Bahru, Malaysia, to take us out for a big lunch. It's so nice to have friends who live in interesting places!

We spent two weeks in France - a week in Paris and the rest of the time in Lyon, Clermont-Ferrand, Le Puy en-Velay and Avignon - all fabulous places with lovely countryside in between. Must say we got a bit blase about 13th century thises and 16th century thats! I'd go back to France in a heartbeat. Enough writing; hope you enjoy the pics. No captions cos I'm too lazy. Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

catching up

this post comes from paris, where we are sitting in an internet cafe near the pantheon and other wonderful buildings & struggling a bit with the european keyboard.this is still our favourite city & we are here for 6 days - wonderful. yesterday we admired the lady &unicorn tapestries in the cluny museum, relaxed in the luxembourg gardens and generally gawped a we will probably go to montmartre where we stayed 9 years ago, eiffel tower and maybe other places; there's so much to see & do & lots of gardens to relax in, too; i have done a little bit of the stitching i took away with me but have only seen 1 patchwork shop so far - in lyon last week & it was closed; very sad. i am speaking lots of bad french & eating far too much great food; will probably look like a croissant when i get home.singapore is the next stop before home; our daughter rosy is joining us & we are all looking forward to our time together. we have had a lovely time catching up with friends in copenhagen, portugal and france and are loving our travels (apart from arriving at a strange railway station with our luggage & wondering where the hell to go); au revoir

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What a week!

It's been a big week - a bit of fun, lots of reading, not much stitching, a whole lot of thinking and a few big sighs of relief.
First up was my new very bad cold on top of my former very bad cold, accompanied by a cough that sounded like a cross between a goose honking and a dog barking. Nearly all gone, thank goodness; didn't fancy sitting on a plane for hours on end making that sort of noise...
The fun part has been mainly conversations - with the kids in the school library last week, and with new and old bloggy friends at the get-together Jodie organised yesterday in a swish new Ballarat cafe. Lots of chat, lots of laughs and some fabric shopping after - just what a recovering wuss needed! And I actually went home and made something - a cute little needlecase that was little freebie pattern from No pics of the fabric I bought yesterday, but above (because I couldn't get blogger to put them where I wanted them) are the fabrics I received for my birthday recently, from a fat quarter swap and from my Friends in Stitching group.
The reading - always my favourite thing. I once worked in a bookshop and now work in two libraries (school and public) and if I had a dollar for everyone who has said at some point over the years "It must be lovely being able to read all day" I'd be super-rich. Working in a library just makes your feet hurt (although as I do all the ordering for the school library, it would be irresponsible not to read at least some of the picture books - wouldn't it??) All my general reading (think who-dunnits and biographies, with a bit of chick-lit thrown in) comes from libraries but since I have discovered Book Depository, I have a whole new library of lovely craft books.
The thinking - Peter (my lovely husband) and I are off overseas tomorrow week for 5 weeks (Asia and Europe, including a week in Paris and 5 days in Singapore with our daughter Rosy, who lives in China). I've done most of the arrangements and am just wondering how and when to tell him just how many of the museums in Paris I want to visit. He knows by now that I'll be ducking into any fabric shop that looks even slightly interesting (all in the interests of research, of course!)
The sighs of relief were for the redhead who got the guernsey as our new PM and for the fact that as of 5.30 pm last Friday I am now officially on holiday for six weeks.
Just have to get through the next week, which will be a mix of now-I'm-on-holiday-I've-got-time-to-enjoy-myself stuff (including the Daylesford Craft Experience on Saturday) and packing and repacking and discovering I haven't got enough summer clothes that I actually like and packing get the picture.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Great giveaway

You probably already know that Jenny of Elefantz is a generous soul. And you probably already know that she designs lovely patterns. But did you know that she's having a great giveaway - Robyn Pandolph fabrics and a pattern to go with it? Well, now you do. Pop over to Jenny's blog, leave a comment and who knows - they might be yours (or mine, hopefully). And don't forget to tell Jenny I sent you.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What a day it was

I had the best day out on Saturday. It was just me and 59 other crafty people, at the inaugural Sew It Together bloggy get-together in Melbourne. Lots of chatting, lots of laughing, lots of acquaintances to renew and new people to meet - oh yes, and some of us even crafted a bit. I'd arranged to meet Jodie Ric-Rac and fellow bloggers Rachelle and Deborah at Ballarat station at ridiculously-early o'clock. Lizzie joined us further down the line and we laughed all the way to the city and back. Huge thanks to Sheridan for organising it; a mammoth task. Our goodie bag was amazing - patterns, pieces of fabric, little kits for this and that, knitting needles - and she had even organised a prize for each of us (mine was one of Dear Fii's gorgeous little hexy brooch kits). Everyone was so great - crafters are the nicest people. I bought some of Corrie's gorgeous quirky Japanese fabric and couldn't resist this green fabric patterned with birds during a quick dash to Tessuti. Friends from Belgium were staying at our house and when I got home Mia asked if I had learned anything. I sure had - that crafters will go anywhere for a get-together - one girl had even travelled from NZ! Thanks for the great company, the friendship and the laughs, girls - see you at Sew It Together 2011 in Sydney!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Good weekends




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On the March long weekend a few weeks ago we drove down to Port Fairy (a lovely little town on the Victorian coast) to its annual folk festival. The shortened name is PFFF for Port Fairy Folk Festival, but I think there should be a couple of extra Fs thrown in (for Fun and Fabulous). It really is a great event, not strictly traditional folky, but a great mix of musical styles, with local and international guests all contributing to the audience's enjoyment. Highlights: American singers Nanci Griffith (who we also saw in concert in Melbourne later that week) Kim Richey and John McCutcheon in separate performances; Brian Kennedy from Ireland, Genticorum from Quebec - how energetic they were!- Dougie McLean from Scotland and Ego Lemos from East Timor. It was, as always, a pleasure to be there - for the music, the people, the food, the incidental conversations and entertainment. We came home with sore hands from clapping so much, and with several new CDs by John McCutcheon (who is also a wonderful storyteller), Kim Richey and Ego Lemos. Brilliant!
Last Saturday I spent having a last-minute panic over a project I was making for a swap for my Friends in Stitching online group. We were all doing designs by Leanne Beasley, and although a few of us chose the same patterns, everything looks so different. In the end, my bag turned out well and my partner likes it, which is the main thing. My partner sent me a gorgeous cushion. There are some wonderful Australian designers, and Leanne is one of my favourites.
On the Sunday I got together with some work friends to learn how to make soap. It was quite an eye-opener - all that stirring and measuring - but enjoyable too. One of the nice things about the day was just getting together; we all work at different branches of our library service and rarely see each other. Now there are emails and phone calls back and forth about the progress of our blocks of soap. We plan to get together in about a month, once it has cured properly, for show and tell. It's fun to learn something new.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Feb. finish - at last

There's nothing like leaving things till the last minute to get the adrenaline flowing. Last year each member of the online friendship stitching group I belong to received a birthday stitchery - and we all got a big shock fairly recently when told the deadline for finishing it was March 3. Yikes! So having made a desultory beginning when I was recovering from pneumonia late last year (my birthday is in May and the stitchery was on the list to be done SOMETIME....) stitch, stitch, stitch I went, with an interruption yesterday to race along to Spotlight for some more thread (a very nice interruption, as it turned out, as I ran into Annie Flowergarden - hi Annie, it was lovely to see you!) Finished stitching last night or rather this morning - as I was washing the piece last night I noticed a short row of stitching still to be done - and it is now framed (in a rustic frame purchased at the Arts Centre Market in Melbourne a couple of Sundays ago ) and displayed on my sewing room wall. I'd always intended to frame this piece, not use it on a bag/cushion or anything else. So not only have I made the group's deadline, I've also squeaked in for a February finish; this really is a OPAM! Just for the record, the stitchery was designed by Leanne Beasley, whose designs are always gorgeous. And thanks to Cathy, who gave it to me.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

First finish

I have a finished project at last for the OPAM challenge. The pattern is Bird in a Basket, from Tracy Souza at Plumcute Designs and I think it is just so cute! It's now on the wall in my sewing room. It should have been there ages ago but I had a bit of trouble getting the ends of the binding to sit just right - only a little thing, but SO frustrating. Anyway, done now and I am happy with it. And just as happy that everything I used came from my stash.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sarah's giveaway

My friend Sarah at Sarah's Prim Treasures is celebrating her third blogoversary with a great giveaway - go and have a look! Sarah and I are in an online craft together and although we haven't met (she's in Tassie, I'm in Victoria) I know she does lovely work - lucky me, I've been her partner in several swaps. Sarah's online store, Patchworks Plus, is worth a look too - she sells a wide variety of patterns and fabrics and the service is great.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Phew, it worked

By spending an alarming amount of time fiddling around with Blogger, I have managed to move my profile from the bottom of the sidebar to the top and FINALLY change the background. Hooray! Of course If I was a bit more tech savvy I wouldn't have messed everything up in the first place.I'm not sure about the background yet, but it certainly makes me feel cool on this hot day. How is everyone in Oz coping with the heat (and how is everyone on the other side of the world coping with the cold?) Keep cool or warm, whatever's appropriate! I'm off to do some stitching.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Keeping cool in the heat

It's 36 degrees in Ballarat today - too hot for this Little Red Hen! So I am staying inside keeping cool thanks to the air conditioning and pressing on with a few projects - such as a stitchery I was given for my birthday last May, and Kira Koala, Rosalie Quinlan's cute softie from the latest issue of Homespun magazine. Kira will be a gift for my great-nephew Jake, who was born on Thursday.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

OPAM challenge

I have committed to Peg and Kris's OPAM (One Project A Month) challenge in the hopes of finishing what I start! I am really good at meeting deadlines when I am making projects for others, but with personal projects, I buzz around from this and that to the other. Sometimes this means I have several projects on the go which do get finished, while others I begin are forgotten about. So here's to finishing those UFOs, WISPs and new starts - what a challenge!
And speaking of challenges - my sidebar is a mess! I have been unable to load the OPAM button to it, or to change the look of my blog; all that has happened is that the instructions for changing the background have saved to the sidebar but the background itself hasn't changed. So I am technologically challenged as well as finish-challenged - and that's enough challenges for one person on a hot sunny day!