01 March 2015

Hello March!

Only one more month of heat and humidity to go, before the weather in Sydney starts to mellow. Counting the days!

I've never understood why we persist with irrelevant northern hemisphere season names in Australia. The climates across our huge country are diverse and do not translate to consistent naming of seasons. Aboriginal Australians have much more complex descriptions of seasons here, as they relate to the geographical area and what occurs on the land at each time of the year. It's all about observing what goes on around you.

The flowers in my photo are of my crepe myrtle. We've had a cloudy few months, and my tree first flowered in early December, which was very early. I thought that meant it was over for the season but no! It has been in full bloom again for the past few weeks and the neighbourhood has been enjoying the gorgeous pinkness of the petals. Lovely.

22 February 2015

The 1718 coverlet quilt-along

Last year, I bought a copy of The 1718 Coverlet: 69 Quilt Blocks from the Oldest Dated British Patchwork Coverlet by Susan Briscoe. Have you seen it? It's a beautiful book, containing the fascinating story of the coverlet**, including a chapter describing how members of The Quilters' Guild of the British Isles constructed a replica of the original. If you love antique quilts, you will want to read about this one.

The book doesn't just have stories in it, though.There are full instructions and templates for making each of the blocks in the coverlet! As soon as I saw it, I wanted to make my own version. 

Time passed, and I still hadn't commenced it. I needed a kick to get started. 

That kick came this week, when my friend Sarah set up a quilt-along. You can read all the details on her blog. There's plenty of excitement happening on the 1718 Quiltalong Facebook page, too! Why don't you join us to make your own version of this amazing coverlet? 

I made my first blocks this afternoon. These ones are machine pieced, but my next couple will be hand pieced. And then there's the applique - the most challenging technique for me. Stand by to see how I progress with that!

** The reason it is called a coverlet rather than a quilt, is because it does not have quilting joining the layers. The original coverlet was made on papers, with the papers left inside the patchwork as a stabilising layer.

14 February 2015

One small thing

Things have been bugging me lately. Not the things I have been doing but the things I haven't been doing; not the big things in my life but the small things. 

So I instituted a new habit.

Each week, I complete one small thing from my lengthy to-do list. I simply choose one and then go and do it. No over-thinking, no worrying about what else I should be doing instead.

The first time, I cleaned the windows in my bedroom. (I won't tell you how long it has been since I last cleaned them because then you would shun me forever.) I didn't clean all the windows in my house, just the three in my bedroom. Geez, I felt good afterwards (and the glass looked great!). One big smile.

Last week's task was to attach my garden hose to a new hose reel. It took a couple of YouTube videos and a photo of my Dad's hose reel for me to work out how to do it because the hose reel box, unhelpfully, didn't explain it. But I did it and now my hose has a neat home. One big smile.

My list doesn't look any shorter but I am pleased with what I have achieved. Now I have a new motto: one small thing, one big smile. Would you like to try it, too?

11 February 2015

My book of the month: February

My pick for this month is set in the Australian bush and it's a great read. A combination rural/mystery/romance story, this novel has a strong female character, Jordan, who runs her farm solo, with only the support of friends and the local community.

This novel, first published as Deadly Secrets, has been recently republished as Secrets of Whitewater Creek. Don't be put off by the bog-standard cover of this book, which looks as if it was whacked together from a generic stock photo. Not much design happening there. 

Under its new title, this cover shows it has been  re-branded within the popular genre of Australian rural romance novels. Sadly, still a generic cover.

So ignore the cover and get stuck into the story. It's an engrossing read and I will definitely look for more of Sarah Barrie's novels in future. To read more about Deadly Secrets/Secrets of Whitewater Creek, visit Goodreads.

08 February 2015

Do we ever really know how someone feels?

When I was growing up, our family visited my mother's parents every Saturday afternoon. We'd do the grocery shopping together in the morning, come home for lunch, and then set out for the long drive across Sydney. This was the routine but the detail of those afternoon visits often varied, depending on who else was there.

One incident, in particular, stays in my memory. I was sitting next to my grandmother on the couch and she was recounting a story of something that had happened during the week. Even though I can't recall the details now, I do know that it was amusing and made us all laugh.

'Oh, you're so funny, Nana,' I said, laughing along with everyone else. She looked at me, smiled and continued with her yarn.

It was only later in the day I overheard her talking to my aunt about what I had said. 'I'm in such pain and I don't feel at all well,' she said. Yet she could still entertain us with a funny story.

That was the first time I realised that the way a person acts on the outside isn't always the way they feel on the inside - an important lesson for me (and for us all). 

01 February 2015

Hello February

Holidays are over and most people's everyday routines have started again. February's here!

 The shortest and often hottest month of the year is here. We made it through the oppressive humidity of January - only another two months to go and Sydney's weather becomes liveable again. Are you as affected by the weather as I am? 

February also means the bushfire season is in full swing and everyone needs to be vigilant. The background in my photo is part of a journal quilt I made a few years ago, symbolising  the heat and the flames we often see at this time of year. Stay safe, everyone.

What does February mean to you?

27 January 2015

Textiles Tuesday

Rain, glorious rain! That's what we are experiencing here in Sydney and my garden is soaking it all. Wonderful to see the plants greening as I watch.

Here are 18 links for you to explore this month. Please leave a comment if you find something of interest.

* Want to yarn-bomb a bollard? Enter the National Folk Festival's competition! Entries close 13 March. 

* If you think it's OK to copy pattern instructions rather than pay for a pattern, read this strong message that Homespun Magazine posted on its Facebook page. Everyone needs to understand that this sort of copyright breach is illegal and takes potential income from designers and publishers.

* Do you love Liberty fabrics (like I do)? I've discovered this fabulous online source of Liberty lawn in Australia - The Strawberry Thief. Yum!

* Last month I alerted you to classes in Brisbane with Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. Now the Sydney classes have been announced12-16 June 2015 in Parramatta. Classes with Weeks Ringle, Bill Kerr, Sarah Fielke and Kerry Glen. Are you going? Decisions, decisions...

* 20-22 March: Loving Indigo exhibition, Ballan VIC.

* Have you ever considered turning your hobby into a business? This blog series from Lily's Quilts may help. 

* An invitation to participate in a freeform crochet and knit artwork from Prudence Mapstone - 50 Years of Flower Power. 

* Sewing Up a Coastal Storm is taking expressions of interest now. Coffs Harbour, NSW.

* Do you pay retail prices for fabric from a business, even if you can pay less for the same product from a co-op or Facebook group? Here's a thought-provoking article from Sew Mama Sew that explores these questions. Abby Glassenberg also asks: where do you buy your fabric?

* Now, this is handy! Why didn't I know about this yarn substitution website before? Yarnsub's yarn database contains all the major yarn brands and a lot of lesser-known brands too. You can search for yarns by their name, brand, weight (e.g. worsted) or fiber content.

* Brighten up your notebooks with fabric covers. Tutorial by Bec from Handmade and Home.

* Oh my goodness! Esther Aliu is at it again - she is generously offering another free BOM quilt pattern. It's another stunner, Oma's Blues. 

National Wool Museum, Geelong VIC: Scarf Festival 2015 - the theme is Coastlines. Entries close 8 May 2015.

* As soon as I saw that Jinny Beyer is the instructor for this FREE Craftsy BOM class, I signed up. I may never make this quilt, but I'm always interested in picking up tips from my hand-piecing heroine! 

* Details of ATASDA NSW 2015 workshops have been announced.

* Design opportunity for Thermofax printing from Smudged Textiles Studio.  

* Pat Sloan has posted block 1 of her free mystery quilt on her blog.

* How to make your own fabric label, from Marinke at A Creative Being. Handy!