Bursting with Colour

The Rainbow scarf :: Matching Pegs
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).
"The Retreat" at Woodend via Matching Pegs
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.
Fabric Stack for a new quilt : Matching Pegs
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…
Alison and Claire at "The Cotton Factory" :: Matching Pegs
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?

Choosing a colour palette

A cushion for Lotta :: Matching Pegs
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.
Lotta's old Dog Cushion for the Couch :: Matching Pegs
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.
A pile of harmonious fabrics for a quilt :: Matching Pegs 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.
Seam experimentation, pressing the seams open :: Matching Pegs
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.
Yay, the intersection is perfect! :: Matching Pegs
It helped me when it came to lining up the points, and amazingly, some of the intersections are perfect!
Wonderful hippo backing fabric for the cushion :: Matching Pegs
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.
An equilateral triangle cushion :: Matching Pegs
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?

Australian Quilt Market Preparations.

Butterfly Fairies, pattern by Matching Pegs
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.
Fairy HairdressingI’ve got a kaleidoscope of Butterfly Fairies.  They are so much fun to make, especially their tiny bubble dresses, and their fancy hair.Stack of cut fabric squares in Orange, Blue and Green
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.
Detail of "Hope is a thing with feathers" stitchery
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.
Matching Pegs Swing Tags
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.
Fabric to be re-shelved
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.
Michaela's Student Achievement Award
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.

Regency Bonnet

Regency Bonnet and GlovesI’m pretty impressed (if I do say so myself) that I did manage to turn Luke’s old straw hat into a Regency era bonnet, which was relatively comfortable and carefully finished.  The hardest part was actually getting a good photo of it.
Amelia in my Regency Bonnet
In the end I resorted to putting it onto the most cooperative living mannequin available, my eldest daughter, Amelia.  If you look here you can see the inspiration for it.  To create it, I cut off the crown of the straw hat, (just above the hat-band) and stapled together a pinch of the brim at the back.  I made a replacement soft crown with a large gathered fabric circle and band, just like on my chef’s hat.
6 Metres of Fabric and an Old Hat
Above is a reminder of what the hat looked like before.Bonnet Making
After gathering a large amount of fabric, I attached it to the underside of the brim, and stitched it in place, around the edge. I bound the edge of the brim with bias binding, just like on a quilt.  The crown was gently stitched to the brim, covering up the old hatband, (which was a really handy thing to stitch through, easier than the straw) and a red ribbon finished it off, covering the stitching.
Back of my Regency Bonnet, made using an old straw hat.
The red ribbon crossed over at the back, and I stitched it to the edges of the brim in 2 places that corresponded to just behind my ears.  This gave it the bonnet shape when it was done up.
Claire - Night time selfie in the bonnetTo show you what it looked like on me, I will have to show you a terrible night-time selfie.

I spent the day of the party in bed with a migraine, so even though I was on track to finish the dress and bonnet in plenty of time to get a daylight photo, it wasn’t to be.

In the end, I cut a few corners with the dress. I only finished it thanks to my hubby Luke who pinned up the hem, (while I stood there in the dress feeling frail) and my Mother, Madeleine, who stitched it, just in time for us to leave.  Next time I’ll show you the dress…

I can almost share my new pattern with you…

Drawing diagrams and writing instructionsI’ve been working on a new pattern, a “Creative Card” that will be available soon.  At the moment it is being tested, and as soon as possible, I will send it off to my wonderful distributors, Creative Abundance.

I really enjoy drawing diagrams, but I find writing clear, concise instructions a little harder.  I’m usually pretty wordy.  Keeping all of my instructions to one single page was hard, even for a simple project like this one, (I’m not telling you what it is yet, but can reveal that the main ingredient is delicious felt).  Hopefully I have been brief and precise about the right things, and elaborated enough on the things that most need it.
Lunch at The Mill Cottage.

Last Friday, I went with some friends, for a day trip to the divine Millrose Cottage, (Quilting and Gallery) which is, I think, one of the most delightful patchwork shops in Victoria.  We lunched at the cafe next door, The Mill Cottage.  My exciting news is that Millrose are now going to stock my patterns, and have several samples of mine to put on display, so if you ever drop in there, keep your eye out for some Matching Pegs goodies.
Do you have a favourite Patchwork/Quilting shop?

Colour and Movement

Felt Offcuts in beautiful coloursI’ve had the felt out again, which seems the perfect choice for the cooler weather, and as an antidote to days that are starting to become more grey.  I love to keep the tiny offcuts, like precious jewels.  In the past I have put these offcuts into clear glass Christmas ornaments, but these may end up in a tiny jar.  I will share the project  I have been working on soon…
Glitter Nailpolish and M&M's
I must admit that I have really needed the simple pleasure of beautiful colour to help cheer me.  Last week I reached for the “disco ball” glitter nail-polish and M&M’s as an injection of “bright and happy”.  There is definitely something to be said for enjoying the small and simple pleasures, when times are tough.
Rory came 2nd in the 3km cross country race at school
This week I have spent a lot of time up at the primary school for “Education Week”, which involves lots of activities that parents and friends can be involved in.  Yesterday I was at a local park to cheer on my son as he ran 3 km (1.86 miles) with all the other boys in his age group, over a very hilly, cross-country course.  He came 2nd!  Rory just loves to run, and I was so proud of him.  I also spent time playing the “Echo Cello” with Michaela’s class for a while.  It was fabulous fun playing these strange instruments made of bits and pieces, and played with violin bows.
Running Pouch prototype
After all the excitement I returned to the running theme again when I spent the remainder of the afternoon prototyping a running case for a friend’s phone.  She is running in the Mother’s Day Classic, a run to raise money for Breast Cancer Research, this weekend.  She wanted a simple case to allow her to carry her phone, so that it sits in the small of her back.  She only wants it “in case of emergency” and hopes that she will not need to access it while running.  Ann-Marie did a run previously, in steep terrain, and came across someone who had fallen and broken their leg, far from medical help, so running with a phone is important to her.  I still have some improvements to make, so prototype 2 is the next order of business.
What are you making at the moment?

Bits and Pieces

Hillside Quilting Business CardsLife has been keeping me offline for the last little while, busy with the business of living, and not so much with creating.  However, here I can share something I prepared a little earlier.  My husband Luke and I designed a whole new look for my friend Anita’s quilting business, including her logo, business cards, stickers and assorted fancy looking stuff.  I don’t know which one of us was more excited when the business cards finally arrived.  Hillside Quilting LogoAnita has quilted a number of my quilts for me, and we have a great collaborative relationship.  For her brand she wanted something that communicated creative and modern, but didn’t ostracise traditional quilters either.  We chose to be inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement for the feature font, and Anita found the very cute pattern on Shutterstock.  I had to do the reverse of “put-a-bird-on-it” and get rid of the little birdies, and re-jig the pattern to fill in the gaps.  It was a lot of fun.Ndew Fabric from Ballarat PatchworkLook what else is new this week, some lovely fabric, ( I ordered from Ballarat Patchwork) which is also making me very happy.  These fabrics are not all going to be used together, but don’t they look sweet in their stack!  The top one is some Sweet Azalea “Lina” from the Echo line by Lotta Jansdotter.  In the centre is some “Tangerine Swinging” from the Comma collection by Zen Chic, and the sassy orange “Small Chevron” fabric at the bottom is by Riley Blake.
Feather 1 of "Hope is a thing of Feather" by Matching Pegs
Feather 2 of "Hope is a thing of Feather" by Matching Pegs
Ideas in my head are still revolving around feathers, and are joined by yet more pegs and Space-Invader-inspired-rocketships.  I’ve also been contemplating beetles and frogs.
What design motifs are you contemplating?


Feathers and insects

Embroidered feather in Cottage Garden ThreadsI’ve been exploring feathers as part of a new design, and this is my first “practice feather” on a scrap of calico, in some new, beautiful, hand-dyed threads from Cottage Garden Threads. Hope Feathers 1
I have purchased 5 different variegated colours from their stranded cotton range, in deliciously subtle and unusual colour combinations.  The colours are not as bright as those that I have used in recent times, but I think they suit the delicate nature of feathers perfectly, (and the colour names are just delightful).Hope Feathers 2As you can see, my new design, (which I am still developing) features not only feathers but also hand drawn lettering, something I have been wanting to try my hand at.  I tend to completely draw up a design in Illustrator before stitching, to get the visual balance of a project right, but sometimes it can be a little hard to get the scale right.  Some of the details I have drawn onscreen may still be a little too detailed, so stitching up one of the feathers was a good way to try out the scale, and the beautiful colours.  I will probably play with the size of both the lettering and the feathers until I am happy, and ready to stitch out the whole thing.Practice feather in "Cottage Garden Threads" in colours; '500 Clivea' and '507 Rusty Gate'.There is a lot of stitching involved with this project, and I am not as fast as some other designers out there, so it might take me a while, but a large part of the delight will just be in seeing how the colours turn out.  The threads I have used for this feather are ‘500 Clivea’ which is the orange coloured thread on the left, and ‘507 Rusty Gate’ which is the petrol-sheen coloured thread on the right, which contains dusty blues, greens and purples.Clear Cutting Table, Hooray!
I have a wonderful working area to get stitching in, because my cutting table is looking the best it has in months, clean, and ready for action.  I have been meaning to tidy up anyway, but I had a large nudge, in the form of a small insect that caused a scary allergic reaction in Michaela.  I’m embarrassed, but I’m all for being authentic, because my life is not a series of well shot, crafty vignettes.  It’s a long story, but the bare bones are that Lotta, (our very small dog) caught fleas for the first time in her 4 years, in spite of the all-in-one treatment she was on to avoid them. She only had a few fleas (because of the treatment) but Michaela was bitten, and over the course of the day her bites (on her arm) turned into large painful eggs, and her eyes swelled up.  Thankfully it didn’t compromise her airways, and antihistamine eventually settled it down.We sent the kids away to their grandparents, and spent last weekend feverishly vacuuming, packing and covering electrics, before setting off 6 flea bombs throughout the house.  All week there has been more vacuuming, (and I wiped down every horizontal surface 4 times, to get rid of the nasty chemicals).  This week I think I have done 11 loads of washing, including 2 loads that were already clean, (but not yet put away before we found out about the fleas).  We’re tired, but our house is super clean, and clutter free, and there is no sign of the little parasites, which is just as well, because we can’t chance Michaela getting bitten again, as her reaction would likely be stronger.  Just in case, Michaela has, once again, got an epipen.

So the past week has been all about feathers and insects, but I would rather it had only been about feathers.

Inappropriate Crafting

Hand knitted, 2x2 rib, Rainbow scarf Right after Christmas I finished this beautiful Rainbow scarf, a longer sister for this one that I finished back in July.  This one, for Amelia, is about 2.1m long, and made with a 2×2 rib with 58 stitches, on 5mm needles (US8).  The yarn is a a 50/50 composition of Wool and Acrylic, and is a Moda Vera brand called “Fern” from Spotlight, (Moda Vera is an in-house brand).  It took just one (very large)  ball.  Michaela’s one was only 1.7m long, and made with garter stitch.Amelia's Rainbow Scarf (finished in summer)

It took me a long time to knit, as I put it aside while I was getting my patterns ready for release in recent months.  As a result I have finished the scarf in an entirely inappropriate season, hence the lovely, but ridiculous photo above, of a person wearing summer clothes and a winter scarf.  The weather has become considerably hotter since I finished the scarf, and as a result my nemesis, carpal tunnel syndrome, has returned to plague me.  Unfortunately, I will not be doing any handwork for a while, until the worst of summer is behind us.  Thankfully I can still sew on a machine, if I don’t overdo it.Home made pencil caseYesterday, Amelia and I made this home made pencil case, with two of her favourite fabrics.  We even designed it to have a tag for her name sticking out the side, and she is very pleased with the result.Inside view of the home made pencil case.She ladder-stitched up the lining herself, learning a new skill.  So now it is full of new stationary, ready for her first day of high-school at the end of the month.Fantastic Pencil Sharpener by Faber CastellSpeaking of new stationary, the kids and I went on a hunt the other day, through all the relevant stores in the local shopping centre, for this exact pencil sharpener.  Everyone in our house draws, lots.  Consequentially, we seem to be the house where pencil sharpeners go to die, as very few seem to be up to the task of working in our house.  This pencil sharpener, by Faber Castell, seemed to be the exception.  I had one that was never allowed to leave my desk, in case it disappeared, but we managed to track them down in order to buy them for the other members of the family.  We found them where we didn’t expect them, in Coles (the supermarket).  So now we can all stay sharp.

Does anyone else get obsessed with the perfect pencil sharpener?  Perhaps you have another tool you obsess over?

Making and Breaking

Christmas Angel by Matching Pegs

I made it!  I finished the Christmas Angel just in time to photograph it, wrap it and hand it over to be given to the Music Teacher.  Now I just have to make one more, and finish two stitcheries, and the school presents are done.Amelia with the boards she broke at Tawkwondo

Amelia broke it!  Last night Amelia successfully completed her Red II grading for Taekwondo, and broke two boards with her high kicks.  We also somehow found time to get her a haircut, in preparation for tonight, which is her Grade 6 graduation.  It is all happening!

I have already explained to Amelia, that while I am very excited that she is moving on to High School, and I know she is ready, I might have a tear or two in my eyes.  They will be happy tears.