I’ve just finished another rainbow scarf, which I have been knitting on and off for a year. This is the third one that I have made, in the last year and a half. I’ve made one for each of my girls and now one for me. The yarn is a 50/50 composition of Wool and Acrylic, in “Fern”, of the Moda Vera brand for Spotlight. As happened last time I made it, I completed it on a day when the weather was wildly inappropriate, (hot).
Since completing my first knitting project of the year, I’ve started on my first quilt of the year, whilst spending the weekend at “The Retreat” in Woodend, in country Victoria. The Retreat is set up specifically as a sewing venue, with 5 large bedrooms, several lounges and a large studio space. I spent my time there with 6 other like-minded ladies, and it was delightful.
So this is what I’m making my new quilt out of, Some happy greens, deep blues, sandy browns and joyous oranges. I’m halfway through finishing the quilt top, and can’t wait to show you. Pulling out stacks of coordinating fabric is just about my favourite part of the process, which is the perfect segue into my other bit of news from the weekend…
While away, I took a side trip to visit Ballarat, and the lovely Alison (left) at her new, (soon to open) teaching space/store, “The Cotton Factory”. During my time there, I played around making several fabric stacks, pulling out fabrics from all over the store. My friend Anita (Hillside Quilting) and I were there to talk to Alison about teaching classes in her new space. I will be teaching needle-turn applique later in the year, and Anita will be teaching free-motion-quilting (for domestic machines). Once we have some dates to share, I’ll let you know. Alison has some photos of the fun we got up to on her Facebook page (link above) and on her Instagram account, including photos of some of the fabric stacks I created for versions of my “All A Flutter” Cushion, which will be the pattern I use to teach needle-turn. The Cotton Factory Ballarat also has a Big Cartel store online, which is live now, but I will be sure to share the news once the space itself has an opening date.
Is making fabric stacks your favourite part of the quilt making process?
If you have been following my blog for a while you will know that these beautiful threads from Cottage Garden Threads were ones I used to create my “Hope is a Thing With Feathers” stitchery last year. Above was one of the test embroideries I did, before I decided on the colour scheme, and below is a photo of the finished stitchery (worked in the threads you see above).
The pattern cover features another version, done in one single colour of variegated thread, called Peacock. As you can see, these threads are stunning, I just love using them.
At the end of last year, I met with Katie, from CGT, and she asked me to take part in something special this year, a Collectors Club, for fans of CGT’s floss who love to stitch and are interested in expanding their floss collection. As a member, all that is required is that you pay for 4 lots of threads each month, (the subscription goes for 12 months). Each month you will receive a new stitchery from a guest designer, and their chosen threads. Want to know more about CGT’s threads?
Above is another test feather, this one stitched in ‘Rosella’. What you see here is a tiny fraction of the beautiful threads that CGT’s produce, in a huge variety of variegated combinations. The really helpful thing is that the threads come twisted together, (like the one on the right) but when you pull them gently, you discover they are already cut into a convenient length. Because they are all cut at the same point on the colour transition, you can knot and finish one length, and start again with a new length, with a seamless transition from old length to new in you stitching.
So, next month is my month as the guest designer for the CGT Collectors Club. Matching Pegs March. Above is a preview of the threads I have chosen to work with, that you will receive if you are a member. They are lovely and bright, and I hope you are as excited by them as I am. The club actually started in February, but I’m told it is not too late to join, and if you would like to, you can find a list of participating retailers here, (pdf).
4 Years ago I made a cushion for Lotta, for her to sit on when she is on the couch. Although it was for a dog, I made it to blend in with the other cushions, and not look particularly doggy. The one you see up above is a new one, and below is what the 4 year old one looks like now.
Sadly, after 4 years, it looks very doggy. Definitely time to make a new one.
The first thing I did was pull out a whole lot of fabrics which toned in with another of my couch cushions (the one you can see in the top photo, on the right). I wanted a lot of variety. Using a feature fabric to inspire you is a great technique, if you are ever stuck for a starting point. Even though I didn’t use any of this feature fabric in my doggy cushion, (it’s scale would be too large anyway) picking the colours this way makes the 2 cushions harmonize wonderfully. As you can see I went with plumy purples, apricots and oranges, buttery yellows, a range of warm greens and some taupe browns/greys. I made sure there were a range of lights, mids and darks, as well as a variety of scales of prints. The taupe/grey fabrics echoed the background colour of the feature fabric. A few of these fabrics didn’t make the cut,(because the scale on them was too big) but most of them are in the finished cushion. When in doubt I just held the fabric up against the feature cushion, and if it clashed, it was out.
I have been loving all the equilateral triangle quilts I have been seeing for the last year or so, and this cushions was an excellent way for me to experiment. For some rows I pressed all the seams to one side as I went. For other rows I pressed them all open. I found the latter to be easier to manage when it came to piecing the rows together.
It helped me when it came to lining up the points, and amazingly, some of the intersections are perfect!
I found the cutest backing fabric for the cushion, a very fine corduroy. I quilted the cushion-top onto a piece of old blanket with straight line quilting, (with orange thread) before I assembled the cushion. I finished the edges with orange binding, just like a quilt.
I’m pretty pleased with the end result and so is Lotta. I enjoyed this foray into equilateral triangle piecing so much that I have a whole quilt on the drawing board, and a pile of fabrics waiting to be cut.
Have you made anything with equilateral triangle piecing?
I’ve put off writing this post for a little while because I didn’t know what to say. When I last blogged I didn’t realise that I would be missing from this space for over 2 months, and I struggled with finding a way to explain why. The truth is, I can’t. 2013 was an extremely traumatic year for me, and my family. I had a few months (at the end of the year) where life returned to some sort of normal, and now I’m right back in the thick of trauma again. I can’t tell you what’s going on, because it’s not my business to put out there on the internet*. I spent the school holidays spending as much time as possible with my immediate family, trying to concentrate on all that is good. The photo above was taken after a shopping expedition to buy new summer shoes. Clearly we all have a taste for colour! The only reason that Luke’s feet aren’t in the photo too, is because he bought thongs, (flip-flops) and they aren’t very photogenic.
During January we had a week away, down on the coast, which was lovely. I managed to get a bit of hand piecing done, both pool-side and on the beach. Although I did swim too, I was more than happy to spend some time supervising the sandcastle building and swimming, with a needle in my hand.
Here is a quick update on how my Wheel of Fortune Quilt is looking now. Once I finish a full revolution of the green squares, I will only have a diminishing number of squares to add in the corners, in order to square up the whole quilt.
While away, I did actually spend some time on this jumping pillow with the rest of my family, but you will have to take my word for it. It’s hard to take a photograph while bouncing. I’m pretty pleased with this one of everyone else though.
Another highlight of the school holidays was visiting “Lego Brickvention 2014″ at the Royal Exhibition Buildings.
There were quite a few smaller crafting projects completed over the last couple of months too. The girls both got dresses for their Blythe dolls, (made to their specifications) for Christmas.
They both chose fabric for new pencil cases, made with Noodlehead’s Zipper Tutorial, which was fun. Rory was happy with the Star Wars one that he already had.
All three kids decorated their exercise books for school, but I only seem to have a photo of Amelia’s books, which she spent a lot of time on. I think they look fantastic. They are just covered with brown paper and decorated with pen and washi-tape.
So that’s a partial wrap up of what happened in the last two months. I have a couple more small projects that I can share with you in another post, and then I will be spending my time looking forwards. Most of all I will be trying to find a way to keep making things, and posting here, in spite of all the drama in my “real life”, because it’s not looking like it will be going away any time soon.
* I can say that the members of my immediate family are all very well, and my husband is a wonderful man; he is extremely supportive and dependable in the face of a lot of pressure.
Australian Quilt Market, a trade show for people in the Patchwork and Quilting industry, starts tomorrow. I’m just back from setting up my “Matching Pegs” table in the Creative Abundance booth, along with Jodie, Melly, Fiona, Simone and Clare. I’ve got several new patterns debuting there including “Butterfly Fairies”, (shown above).
I looked up the collective noun for Butterflies, and there are several, but the most appropriate to me seemed to be a kaleidoscope of butterflies. I’ve got a kaleidoscope of Butterfly Fairies. They are so much fun to make, especially their tiny bubble dresses, and their fancy hair.
I’ve finished the quilt that I gave you a peek at, in the last post, and I’ve whipped up another quilt top, with the colours you can see above. I can’t wait to show it to you in all it’s glory, but it deserves it’s own post, especially as Anita, my quilter, did such a beautiful job.
I’m also looking forward to showing you my two “Hope is a Thing With Feathers” stitcheries, which are complete, and wrapped around canvases, but all in good time.
In the mean time, I can show you the swing tags I made for Market. They were fun to make, and you know me, the pegs on each tag match the colour on the top of the corresponding pattern.
I can also show you the photo I shared on instagram yesterday afternoon, of the piles of fabric that I am going to have to try and re-shelve after AQM is over. I’m going to be like a librarian, after exam time is over.
Last of all I have to share a proud Mum moment, and show you Michaela, who received a Student Achievement Award in front of the whole school on Monday for working extremely hard to improve her writing, both in form (neatness) and in content. Her Dad and I are very proud of her.
I’ve been cracking on with making a new quilt that I’m fabulously happy with. Even the scrappy little pile of trimmed edges looks delightful to me. It’s the colours you see, a successful colour combination never fails to excite and enchant me.
This colour combo is a cracker. Small piles of these fabrics have been waiting in a clear zip-lock bag for months, waiting until I had the time to embark on a new quilt. Yay, how wonderful it feels to start a new project!
Just quietly, I have a whole other bag full of cuts of fabric that are going to become an alternative-colour-way version of this quilt. I’m pretty thrilled with that colour combo too, but shh, this one is my favourite. I’m always in love with colours that you could describe as sunset inspired. The colours are a lot like those in Michaela’s Sunset Quilt that I finished back in 2010.
This photo doesn’t capture the colours precisely enough, it looks a little cooler here than it is in person.
Here you can see my “Hope is a Thing of Feathers” stitchery, (being worked in “peacock” (1201) stranded thread by Cottage Garden Threads) which is almost completed. I was sitting in the car, waiting for one of my children, when I realised that my nails and my coat matched it, (not to mention my iphone and water bottle, which were also on hand). Do you do that that too, discover that you have made more than just your clothing match?
We don’t celebrate Halloween here. There are not that many families that do in Australia, and we are not among them, however Amelia’s Taekwondo class was encouraged to come in (loose) costume for a bit of fun. This is what Amelia and I came up with – Zombie child. No one knocked on our door last night, even though I was prepared with some mini-chocolate bars, so they were all for us.
Did you do anything for Halloween?
This is the total amount of sewing I did in September. It was a rough month, (inside a generally painful year). I wish I could tell you why. In “real”, non-internet life I would probably tell you, because I’m a real sharer, but it’s not my story to tell, and I have no business putting it out there on the internet. I know these cryptic posts in blog land often turn out to be marriages on the rocks, or nasty terminal illnesses, and I can safely say that it is neither of those things. Someone in my family needed my every waking hour, and while I missed sewing, creating and blogging, family always comes first and I have no regrets on that score.
I did manage to make it to the fabulous bloggy meetup, “Crafty Hijinks” in Ballarat in September, which was a much needed day off to spend with lots of like minded crafters. Thanks to Jodie and Gillian for organising it!
Now that life has settled down a little, I’m back on my sewing machine and my computer trying to make up for lost time. Like so many other bloggers, in-between posts you can find me on Instagram. I’m often bemoaning the complexities of drawing comprehensible Illustrator diagrams, (the one above is the most complex diagram I’ve ever attempted, and I’m rather pleased with it) or extolling the virtues of chocolate, my addiction of choice.
On Instagram I’m matchingpegs, you can find me here.
Meet wonky little Miss Fairy Dolly. She’s a prototype that is in need of a few tweaks. If I was clever enough, there would be a whole back story about her life and personality*, but in the interests of actually posting something, you will have to meet her, sans story.
I can see all the things I am going to change about her, but one thing that I’m super pleased with is her bubble dress. It’s so bubbly that it’s practically effervescent. Her rainbow hair was tricky. Although I like it, it was hard to hide the stitching that attaches it to her head, so a less variegated yarn might be better next time. I’m already started on her cousin, the slightly less wonky Fairy, I’m hoping that you will be able to meet her soon…
*(Perhaps you can come up with the back story of wonky Miss Fairy Dolly).
This weekend I went on the annual Guild retreat, that my Quilters Guild, (NOTYQ) runs. It was a pretty nice reward at the end of all the driving required during the last two weeks. This was my fifth retreat, and the third for this quilt top, which is understandable when you consider that it is all hand-pieced. The inspiration for this quilt was Cathy’s quilt, or I should say, her two quilts, as she has made this twice. Cathy English-Paper-Pieced hers, but I have been using traditional hand piecing methods.
It took me all year to piece this last ring, made up of the 88 cocoa coloured diamonds, although to be fair, I haven’t touched it much at all since our holiday in January. Next I have 48 squares to add, for the last full revolution. 24 of these will end up being trimmed back to triangles, when I square up the quilt, and there will be 5 lots of partial revolutions in the corners to fill in the square.
The 48 squares will be green, and I spent the morning cutting them out. I am lucky enough to have three kids home sick today, with a mild tummy bug that I am still recovering from (my kids bring out the sarcasm in me). It’s too hard, with them all home, to concentrate on any pattern writing, so I figured that I may as well use the opportunity to do something quiet and happy.
Looking up from writing this post to see my quilt, (which was still draped over my ironing board from the previous photo) silhouetted against the sunshine through the window, made me really happy too.
Does hand piecing make you feel happy too?
For the past week, theatre has taken over my life. I have become a taxi driver, taking my eldest daughter to daily rehearsals in the city, at Hisense arena. Thousands of parents, from across the state, have been doing the same. Saturday was the culmination of all the months of work, with 2 performances of the Victorian State School Spectacular.
Amelia is a member of the Performing Arts Unit Choir, a choir of about 30 kids that lead the rest of the mass choir, which is made up of many seperate school choirs. She was sitting at the front of the group that you can see, that is lit up in pink, at the centre of this shot. All the people around them, with little lights, are members of the mass choir. Amelia has committed every Saturday afternoon to this choir all year, and they sounded terrific.
Our commitment has been to drive her every week, and in the past week, every day. On one particular day, I drove three return trips to the city, and racked up 5 1/2 hours of driving! A highlight of these lengthy peak-hour trips was seeing this car. I got Amelia to take a snap, because I knew Rory would love to see it.
The Spectacular performances are not the end of my job as a taxi/Theatre-Mum. Every day this week Amelia has a rehearsal or performance of her High School Production. That’s right, 2 solid weeks of singing every single day for Amelia, which means two weeks of driving at odd hours for me. This morning we covered new territory for both of us, when I applied her first lot of stage make-up ever. I was pretty glad that the school had given very specific instructions regarding what to apply and where. I think we did OK.
Due to all the driving and late nights, I haven’t had much creative energy, but I really needed to reward myself in some way. I decided that following someone else’s pattern was the best kind of distraction, so I have been making another of Nikki’s fabulous A-Line Skirts. This time I have drafted my own pocket, and have inserted it with french seams. Even though I have made it in stolen moments here and there, I am almost finished, just the hem to go. I can’t wait to wear it, and show you.