Saturday, December 27, 2014

SSCS 2014

So there has been lots of eating and drinking and phone calls to faraway relatives and generally feeling in a holiday mood. Ah, Christmas - so nice.

And Chookyblue's ( annual SSCS swap was, as usual,  part of all the feel-good stuff. My gifts went to Anne Heidi (lappemor. in Norway. I made her some gifts with an Aussie touch and she loves them. I used Ballarat girl Emma Jean Jansen's Terra Australis fabrics for the pouch and the little drawstring bag. Patterns for both were by Aussie designers, as was the pattern for the stocking. The kangaroo buttons in the parcel are by Barb Smith in Bendigo ( and so is the button on the Christmas decoration I made, which was designed by Marg Low ( another Australian.

My swap parcel for this year was from Clare in NZ, who blogs at As well as the lovely cross-stitched ornament shown in a previous post, and a yummy marshmallow star, Clare sent this lovely wall hanging which looks right at home with all my other handmade Christmas things. The holly branch she added makes it extra-special. It's not a great photo -sorry.

Thanks so much, Anne Heidi and Clare, for being part of my Christmas and special thanks to Chooky for making it happen again.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Fun with fabric and felt

Me again. Just after deciding yesterday that I was over all this handmade-for-Christmas malarkey, along came Amy from Nana Company with a delightful tutorial she wrote for EHow. Are these  Christmas stockings cute or what (Amy's are gorgeous but I'm pretty happy with mine.) The very very pink one is for my daughter, the blue one for her boyfriend and I'm keeping the one with the star button.
I'm off to raid my big bag of felt - I feel another stocking waiting to be made. And you're heading over to Amy's blog to admire hers and find out how she made them, aren't you? Run, don't walk. Have fun.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Lucky me

The postie delivered a huge box of goodies today from Emma, my secret partner in the Instagram swap I mentioned in yesterday's post. I opened it straight away ( and yes, I was allowed to, so there!) and was amazed by Emma's generosity.  How could I not be - just look at what she sent.

I am looking forward to a cup of that fancy tea later and am dreaming of a fish pie made in my new Jamie Oliver pie dish. There's a needlebook and pincushion, chocolates, pins and two tissue holders.  That was all in one package, wrapped in a tea towel. The other parcel contained this wonderful cushion and I love everything about it - those happy scraps (especially the owl and typewriter key prints) the grey background the border and backing prints and the artfully concealed zip.   I'm feeling very lucky - and very thankful.  I  shared some chocolate with Mr LRH because I'm nice like that and because the poor bloke is a bit limpy after straining a calf muscle this morning while collecting food hampers for his church group to deliver tomorrow. I'm not nice enough to share that cushion though! Like Chooky's, this was a happy swap to be involved in - fun to give and receive, and that's what these swaps are all about.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hello again

I'm way behind on the blogging front. Since my last post, there's been some good stuff and a little not-so-good stuff. C'est la vie.  Anyway, here I am again, enjoying life and making stuff.

I'm in two Christmas swaps this year; one on Instagram and Chooky's Secret Santa Christmas Swap, which I am doing for the 5th? year. The sewing mojo disappeared for a while - coincidentally with the appearance of a bad cold and hay fever for me and a bad cold and hay fever AND shingles for Mr LRH following a few days in Canberra - but luckily came back in plenty of time for crafting for Christmas.

Santa delivered my SSCS parcel nice and early - it was from Clare, who blogs at craftladyinkiwiland and contains this gorgeous ornament which will be displayed in my sewing room all year round. It's meticulously (and patiently) stitched on fine linen. And look at the instruction on the parcel's label  "Do not open until 25th December" - do you think she really means it? (I can almost hear Clare and Chooky in chorus : "Yes, she does!" Thank you so much, Clare, I can't wait to open the parcel - but I will, I promise! It's nice to have stitching connections across the ditch; as I've mentioned in a previous post, I was brought up in NZ after moving from Scotland with my mum and dad when I was two years old.

And I enjoyed making for my SSCS partner, who lives somewhere overseas. The parcel I sent was really light but was pretty pricy to send nevertheless; postal charges just seem to go up and up constantly. No doubt I'll be moaning to myself about this again in the next few days when I post parcels to my two brothers in NZ and cards to family and friends overseas.

The Instagram swap was also fun; I made gifts from brightly coloured fabrics (which took me out of my colour comfort zone - not  a bad thing at all) as these seemed to be my secret partner's preference.

Now I'm off to the sewing room to make a drawstring bag for brother number 3 - my brothers are all getting drawstring bags (it's okay, they don't read my blog) and a special coaster each. Choosing the fabrics has been fun - my youngest brother in Auckland enjoys painting, so his bag features paintbrushes; I'm using Melody Miller's wonderful arrow fabric from her Cotton and Steel range for  brother number 3 in Wellington (which doesn't mean he likes archery; I just loved the fabric and I hope he does too) and my brother in Townsville enjoys fishing, so his bag is patterned with - guess what?

But before I go, here's a little stitching-related extra. I live in Ballarat and today is the 160th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade Rebellion. The battle lasted 15 minutes, many of the rebels and several soldiers and police were killed and while the battle didn't go the miners' way, it's regarded as the foundation of Australia's democracy. Representatives of several stitching groups plus community members including little old me painstakingly handstitched a replica of the original flag with its stars of the Southern Cross. It was a very proud moment when I saw  'my' flag flying from a rustic flagpole early this morning at a ceremony at the site of the battle. It was a wonderful thing to be involved in.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Friday felty fun

My husband arrived back home on Friday afternoon after a road trip to attend his uncle's funeral in NSW.  I knew  we'd have lots to talk about so this little project was just the thing for FNSI. Cut with my favourite  Baby Go die, it's the fourth such brooch I've made recently.  Felt is lovely to work with and I have a collection of gorgeous colours so I'm sure there will be more.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Friday night with friends etc

I signed up for FNFW but in between making and eating vege soup, beer bread and Karen Martini's lucious lemon and poppyseed cake and watching a movie all I ended up doing was cutting some hexies for the drawstring bag I'm planning to make. The pattern is Judy's Dilly Bag, designed by Judy Newman from a very fine house. It's hand pieced - hmmm, not sure about that - and will use up lots of  the accumulated bits and pieces of fabric that I can't bear to throw away. This will be a long-term project so don't hold your breath.

Friday was a cold, snowy, indoorsy sort of day; this is only the second time I've seen snow in Ballarat in the 10 years we've lived here and it was beautiful to watch. Yesterday and today began with a bumper frost (-2 this morning)  that brought clear blue skies.

Yesterday afternoon we headed up to Daylesford for a concert featuring the Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Orchestra and two travelling musicians from Scotland, Chris Stout (fiddle) and Catriona McKay (harp). We'd last seen Chris and Catriona featuring in a fabulous group from the Shetland Islands, Fiddlers Bid, when they played at the inaugural 10 Days on the Island Festival in Tasmania years ago, so we knew it would be a great concert - and it was. And at the end of the concert, the musicians left the stage, still playing their instruments as they left the hall,  farewelling the audience in such an unexpected, happy way.

Friday, August 1, 2014

CIJ swap and other stuff

So - the Christmas in July swap has been and gone and I am just wondering if the rest of the year will gallop along at the same pace as the first seven months. I'm not sure if it's just that I'm getting older but it seems that some years vanish faster than others.

Anyway, it was a fun swap and I want to show what I made for Sue in Dunedin. With overseas swaps (and yes, NZ DOES count as overseas!) I like to add a bit of Aussie-ness. The cushion cover I made has more than a hint of this - it was designed by Anorina at Samelia's Mum in NSW and the border fabric just screams Australia (or maybe that was the noisy cockies).  I used the same fun fabric to cover the front of a card and fussy cut a little piece as a "stamp" envelope. The other Aussie components were the pattern for the clutch purse (from the book Meet Me at Mike's by Pip Lincolne in Melbourne), a Santa button by Barb Smith (Theodora Cleave - I love the quirkiness of her button designs) and a little pattern by Lynette Anderson.

All the fabrics used were from my stash (gotta love that) and were purchased locally or from quilt shows in Melbourne. I love the reindeer fabric on the flap of the clutch purse and the lining fabric, which also featured reindeer,  was a lucky find at the bottom of one of my fabric tubs.  Aneela Hoey's
quirky fabric was just begging to be made into a Christmas stocking.

And now it's the end of the month and OPAM is upon us once again. Our weather has been dreadful for most of this week - so cold and wet - and yesterday's crafting efforts consisted of felty fun. So now I have a little scissor ornament (designed by Marg Low, who is one of my favourite designers, from a kit purchased from her at the recent quilt show in Melbourne) for myself  and a brightly coloured flower brooch for my young niece.And I've signed up for Friday Night With Friends  tonight so must be off and sort out a hand stitching project.

PS: I've just looked out of the window and it's SNOWING - hooray!

PS2: I was the lucky winner of this adorable pincushion made by clever Susan who makes gorgeous things; her blog, Thimblestitch, is lovely to read and having been lucky enough to meet her last year I know she is lovely too! Needless to say, no pins will ever be stuck into this little beauty. Sorry to have been so remiss in posting about this, Susan, you know I love it.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Christmas in July

Today all of us who signed up for Cheryll's Christmas in July swap were officially allowed to open the parcels that we have been trying not to open since they arrived (oh how tempting!)

When the postie delivered my big parcel,  I was chuffed to bits to discover that Peg was my partner. Peg and I have been partners in other swaps so I know of old how lovely her work is.

Just look at this
which turned into these.

There's a big table runner, a cute little gift bag, a wall hanging, the cutest mug rug and a teatowel decorated with Christmas fabric.  Peg also sent a mug full of coffee sticks , gorgeous chocolates and a notebook. Thank you so much, Peg, I couldn't have wished for a more generous partner. And thanks to Cheryll for another fun swap.

A parcel from me made its way across the ditch to Sue in Dunedin.  I was so pleased to have a partner in NZ - despite my 40+ years in Australia I am still a Kiwi at heart. I won't show what I sent to Sue until she blogs about the swap but I know she has opened and likes her gifts - she sent me a lovely email this morning.

Happy Friday, lovely people!

Monday, June 2, 2014

The party's over...

I didn't get to Chooky's party after all - I was sick on Saturday so couldn't attend my FMQ class and just hung around the house feeling sorry for myself.  I really wanted to join the celebrations because the Chookshed and I almost share a birthday (well, our birthdays are around the same date, just  60 years apart .... )

Not a stitch was stitched on Sunday either because I was feeling better but mojo-less so kept busy with other things.

But today, although the party's over, was a happy, productive day. I made an oat and quince jam slice (yummy, I taste-tested, well you have to, don't you?) and an apple and cinnamon loaf which also looks good. Oh, and there was a bit of crafty stuff - I finished this Christmas tree cushion cover for Cheryll's Christmas in July swap (love the scrappy look and those cheeky cockatoos) and found some pretty blue fabric to wrap around a little embroidery hoop to frame this  little stitchery. It's a Lynette Anderson design; so sweet.

I've been checking out a few blogs to see what the party-goers got up too - looks like lots of fun was had as well as lots of lovely things made.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Party, party

I'm not much of a party girl - but I'm very happy to be one of the  guests at  Chookyblue's celebrations  this weekend to mark the second year of her sewing space, the Chookshed. There will be lots of us joining in from all over Australia and from many other countries too, so it might get a bit crowded (and a bit noisy!) If you'd like to take part , whether on your own or with friends, just go and visit Chooky's blog and sign up. You'll be in great company!

My project for tomorrow will be  a smallish linen sampler quilt using nine different FMQ patterns in marked areas. It's a class, and I'm not confident with the stitching so I'm going to practise more this afternoon in an effort to not embarrass myself too much. It's something I'd like to be at least competent at - fingers crossed. And on Sunday I'll be going to a handmade market then choosing something from my UFO collection to work on.

So - will I see you stitching in cyberspace?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Friday night stitching

I signed up for Friday Night Stitch-In  for the first time for the first time and as I buttonhole stitched, watched some telly, enjoyed a cuppa and chatted to my husband it was lovely to think of others doing much the same. Many of us will never meet but all of us are linked by our love of creating.

This is the project I'm working on - it's a cushion design by Anorina of Samelia's Mum. (Oops, knew I should have ironed it before taking the pic!)  I always mean to start crafting for Christmas around this time of year but this is the first year it has actually happened!

What did you all get up to? Thanks to Wendy for running the show and making things happen.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Happy holiday

The Mister and I are  back from a very happy holiday in Queensland, still pretty relaxed from our time away but missing blue sea, blue skies and warmth (although today's temperatures in Ballarat aren't too bad, unlike the 10 degree days here while we were away enjoying balmy 28s and feeling warm and rather smug).

My niece Nicola's wedding in Townsville was lovely - informal and friendly and celebrated outdoors against  the most beautiful backdrop of sea and sky.  It was great to see her and her brother Andrew again and so special to spend time with her dad (my brother Alistair) and his twin Gary, who lives in Wellington, NZ.  Gary brought his daughter Olivia, who is nearly 7 and lots of fun. I had books for her and her young brother Tom and for my three little great-nephews (golly, those last two words make me feel so old!) I'd made her a skirt, too - the first bit of clothing I'd sewn since I can't remember when. It fitted her (phew!) and she likes it (double phew!).

We hadn't been to Townsville before and it will always be memorable for the wedding plus the fact that it was our 38th wedding anniversary the night we arrived and we were able to celebrate sitting outdoors overlooking the sea (unthinkable in Ballarat at this time of year, let me tell you).

Just because we could, we continued driving up to Port Douglas, where we stayed in a small complex a short walk away from everything. We were really impressed by the friendly, laid-back attitude of everyone we met (but not by the fruit bats across the road which woke us early each morning with their loud screeching!)

We enjoyed mooching around town on foot and spending some time in the bush at Mossman Gorge and in the Daintree, where we were very glad not to meet a cassowary (according to all the warning signs on the pathways at the Daintree Discovery  Centre, they're very fearsome birds indeed!)

Seeing another fearsome beastie, the crocodile, turned out not to be that much of a goer either. We enjoyed a  river cruise, all of us on board the dear little paddleboat hoping for a promised sighting, only to see two quick appearances in the middle of the river turn into two quick disappearances, thanks to an idiot speedboat driver. Apparently crocs are scared of speedboats. Can't say I was disappointed as I probably would have had crocodile nightmares. Our trip was in the late afternoon and the sunset over Mossman Gorge was spectacular.

We splurged on a trip to the Great Barrier Reef - I don't have a bucket list, but if I did, seeing the reef would have been pretty high up. The photos we took from the semi-submersible boat we went on are pretty crappy but being so close to those wonderful underwater coral forests and their fishy inhabitants is unforgettable. The Mister had a fabulous view from a helicopter while I sat on the deck of the big pontoon our boat was moored to, gazing at all that blue water interrupted by the white caps of the waves breaking over the various reefs. It is such a fabulous, precious place and so deserving of protection at all costs.

We drove back to Townsville for our last night via the Atherton Tableland, which would be worth a trip in its own right. The countryside is beautiful and there are lots of waterfalls which unfortunately we had to miss for lack of time, along with tea plantations and other attractions.

The warm weather, the crops (sugarcane, macadamias and all sorts of others which to us were quite exotic) the mountain ranges and the signs at beaches warning of crocodiles and stingers made it all seem like another world. We were away for just over a week but it seemed longer - in a very good way.

Can't wait for the next little adventure - whenever and wherever it is.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


I have no idea how to post pics to blogger from my tablet but I would love to be able to share my view of palm trees and ocean with you - and send some warmth to my friends in Ballarat and Melbourne too. The Mr and I are in Townsville for my niece's wedding this afternoon,  the ceremony is in the beachside park over the road from our hotel.
Lucky us!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April so far ...

 Yikes, it's the middle of April already - where has the time gone? This month has been a bit of a mixed bag so far - mostly good, I'm very glad to say.

The bad - my SIL died early in the month after losing her battle with stomach cancer. So sad. She was in her early 70s, the eldest of a family of four in which my husband is the youngest. Their younger sister died almost a year previously of brain and lung cancer. Life can be so cruel.

Daily (retired) life is good - long chats with the Mr, having fun with our dogs, pottering in the house and garden, coffee dates together or with friends; generally nothing remarkable but very pleasant. Uneventful life is often under-rated.

And last weekend was lots of fun. On Saturday I attended the first class offered at Cotton Factory, a gorgeous little patchwork shop recently opened in Ballarat. Claire Gee from Matching Pegs was the tutor and let me tell you there is nothing she doesn't know about needleturn applique. She showed us her method, we discussed other methods, we did a practice piece then set to work on the project, a cushion cover appliqued with 5 gorgeous butterflies (Claire's pattern). I achieved embarrassingly little (we all did) but learned such a lot so I was very satisfied (that feeling of satisfaction might also have had something to do with the good coffee and lovely lunch laid on by Alison, the owner).

After class I raced in to Melbourne by train, walked for what seemed like miles, hopped on a tram, worried about where to get off  (can't you tell I don't often venture into the big city) then found the hotel where I was staying the night with a group of lovely ladies from Launceston and Adelaide. It was great to catch up with Cathy and Leanne and Loz again and to meet Claire, Alex, Meredith and Kate. We all enjoyed our dinner in Lygon St and the icecreams afterwards were delicious. Being a bit of a mucky pup, I ended up dripping chocolate icecream all down the front of my cardigan. Next time I'll colour-match my clothing and chosen flavour (although I don't know if any flavour of icecream comes in a mustard shade!)  At home in Ballarat the Mr and I are real homebodies and hardly ever go out at night and to be walking around in Melbourne where the pavements and restaurants were crowded and everyone was friendly was refreshing and enjoyable.

We went our separate ways next morning, after a chatty breakfast - I headed off to AQS and the others were going shopping before catching their planes for home. And yes, there was lots to see at the quilt show and I did make a few purchases - more than I intended to, but at least I bought the applique paper I was interested in; the other things are for various projects and the table topper kit was a bonus (and a bargain). As for the quilts on display - colourful, quirky, inspiring and just plain wonderful. There is huge talent in the quilting community.
The exhibition building is beautiful inside and out and I spent quite a bit of time admiring it and the surrounding gardens.
Now back to stitching and sewing - I haven't finished anything this month so I'd better get my skates on (and learn how to place pictures properly in blog posts!)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Little things

I LOVE little projects. Whether I'm making something for myself or for a gift, I'm more likely to finish what I've started if it's small. If it's big, or becomes a bit tricky, it's a UFO, likely to be shoved in a cupboard and ignored till the end of time. Naughty, naughty - and I know I'm not alone.
These are my latest little things.
 Little Bluebird Pincushion - designed by Leanne Knell of Petals and Patches. Sweet. It's stuffed with crushed walnut shells, my favourite pincushion filling.
 After making lots of these little bags from
  the Spoonful of Sugar tutorial as gifts, this one's for me.
And yes, I know what's below looks like a cover for a miniature hot water bottle - actually it's a jumper for a little penguin. It seems a bit quirky but it's useful - it stops penguins affected by oil spills preening their feathers and becoming more contaminated. Here's the link, if you're interested - click on the wildlife rehabilitation section. This morning I've been playing with selvedges, making a scarf from Jodie's pattern and loving sorting through the selvedge pile and reminiscing about where I bought some of the fabrics and what I made.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lots of colour

It's rather grey and sort of blah in Ballarat today but there's been lots of colour in my life lately and lots of gorgeous fabrics and quilts to admire.
We spent the March long weekend at home and took in some of the activities on offer. Top of the list, and so close to home, was the annual Begonia Festival in the Botanical Gardens. Begonias aren't my favourite flower but the display was amazing - so many colours, sizes and shapes of blooms.
The gardens are among our favourite places in Ballarat and always look good but this time looked even better. There were special displays, stalls selling all manner of horticulture-related goodies, interesting talks from garden experts, entertainment and food stalls (alas, too few of the latter and we were too hungry to queue for long so ended up having ice cream for lunch, Life's tough). And people, people everywhere. It was lovely.
As was the Begonia Quilters' exhibition I'd gone to the previous afternoon with my friend Jeni. It's a fairly small group (22 members) but their output is phenomenal and so is their talent. There were some truly amazing quilts there. And the venue makes any exhibition attractive - Ballarat's Mining Exchange dates back to the late 1880s and during the gold rush, miners would go there to exchange their finds for cash. These transactions took place in the little booths on each side of the main open space and during quilt shows become little shops for patchwork supplies retailers and others. I went back on the Sunday to catch up with my friend Annie Flowergarden, who is a member of  the group and had several quilts on display as well as some lovely bags for sale.
Last Friday Jeni and I caught up with Annie and Jodie and others at the official opening of a lovely new quilt shop in town. Lovely fabrics, beautiful quilts and other projects on display makes this an inspiring space full of temptation. I'm planning to learn needleturn applique with Claire Gee of Matching Pegs (hi Claire, it was lovely to meet you properly) at a class there later this year. I had the camera in my bag but forgot to take photos.
On Saturday, Jeni and I went to GJs fabrics in Melbourne; she was hunting for fabric for a project and I was along for the ride. I did a little shopping - some linen-look cotton, a mini charm pack (Boho by Urban Chics, gorgeous) and a little pattern which I plan to use in the next few days (but don't hold me to that, okay?)
And yesterday my lovely patient husband and I went up to Castlemaine for an exhibition of appliqued quilts that was just oh so inspiring. There were a few colourful quilts but mainly they were in reproduction fabrics and I realised that despite my developing interest in modern styles and clear bright colours it's those muted tones that still capture my heart. So when we got home I pulled out a pattern I bought after seeing the quilt hanging at another quilt show in the same town a few years back and got the seal of approval to make it (I figure that since it's for our bed, the Mister should have some say.) The pattern is Old Glory by Bon Bon Designs and it's going to have to wait till I learn to needleturn but I'm happy the decision has been made - that bed has been waiting for a special quilt for a long time.

Sorry about the overload of words and pictures - now I need to press publish and go and make something (or at least pat fabric and dream.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Little gifts

My friend Nyssa in Tassie has just had her first baby, so these gifts were sent on their way yesterday.

Isn't that little boat cute! It's the first taggie I've made and I'm so pleased with it. Having not made a softie for ages, I'd forgotten just how much stuffing they take; thought I'd never finish filling it. It was a free pattern online; sorry, I don't remember what blog it was from, or when I found the shape for the bookmark (which I included just in case Nyssa ever has time to read, which is probably not at the top of her to-do list at the moment).

The little boots are a 3-6 month size (don't they look HUGE!) and are from  Hadley Fierlinger's fabulous book Vintage Knits for Modern Babies. And the bag is a  free pattern from Lisa and Sarah at Spoonful of Sugar Designs. This little bag is my favourite quick gift and with the addition of some nice smellies (Cath Kidston hand cream in this case) or other goodies it's a lovely present. I've made so many of these but still haven't made one for myself (or at least when I did I gave it away). The next one's definitely for me!

I love making and giving little gifts and these were all products of my wool and fabric stash, which made the process even more satisfying. I hope Nyssa and her precious little boy are as happy to receive them as I was to make them.