Behold a Bright and Sparkling New Year

Back Yard View

I have spent this first day of the year doing very little except sit on the back deck with various members of my family, eating, reading and chatting. If you sit in the right spot, you can barely see any of the many surrounding houses, and it feels decadently peaceful.

I was unexpectedly distracted from wishing you, my readers and friends, a Happy Christmas, as gastro overwhelmed the kids in the days leading up to the 25th.  Thankfully they were all well enough on the day itself that we could make the last minute decision to join the rest of the clan for lunch in the countryside.  No one had been ill for a day and a half, (so we deemed it safe) and both Luke and I seemed to have dodged being infected.  This year was one where all 32 of us were present, which was lovely.


I have spent some of the lazy days between Christmas and New Year sketching.  Contemplating ideas for next Christmas, and tossing around another idea that draws inspiration from all the hand drawn lettering that I have been seeing on Pinterest, such as this, and this.Hope, a sketch for a new project

I have a friend that picks a new, inspirational word each year.  While not particularly looking for a word myself, I was contemplating “hope” and decided that it was really a word for every year, something that I hope will accompany me always!  I am itching to turn this into a fresh stitchery, but at the moment I must contend myself with drawing it carefully with Illustrator, until I can get my hands on the beautiful variegated Cottage Garden Threads that I plan to use.

Today actually marks 5 years since I started my blog.  I will return to my giveaways soon, to mark the occasion, but I am currently feeling too languid and relaxed to spend much time on the computer.  Summer so far has been mostly beautiful and mild, and I have another Kate Morton book* that is waiting to be read…

* pssst… Kate Morton’s first bestselling novel was released here in Australia titled “The Shifting Fog” but was renamed “The House at Riverton” when it was released internationally, and became a bestseller.  I have not seen “The House at Riverton” available for Kindle but “The Shifting Fog” is, and it is only $3.63.

Happy New Year, A sparkling 2013 to all of you!

Move along…nothing new to see here

A peek at a invizable zip diagram that I drew

Here is a little peek at what I have been doing every single day this week.  After about 4 years on the learning curve, drawing diagrams on Illustrator is something that I have become pretty good at, (modest aren’t I).  In the past week I have drawn diagrams that visually explain many of the different techniques for needle turn applique; the stitch, outer points, inner points, clipping and “off-the-block” applique.  What you see here is part of a series of 4 diagrams that illustrate how to install an invisible zip.  Just drawing the actual zip took me several hours, but now I can use it over and over.test print of Matching Pegs patternsMore test prints arrived of the first 4 complete, shop-ready patterns.  The 2 additional patterns I have finished writing up this week just need covers.  It is all pretty exciting to me, but probably not to you, dear readers, as you have seen all this stuff before.

At least, once the patterns turn up in stores you can say, “I knew her when she just wrote this little blog and revealed her crazy peg-matching habits to the world”.

Are you super excited about anything that everyone else finds unremarkable?

Happy Mothers’ Day

CWA Classics

Mothers’ Day is one of those days that can be sweet and cuddly, or really, really hard.  If your Mothers’ Day is one of the latter, I hope you can find a way to get through it, without feeling like tearing up the cutesy cards in the supermarket.

I’ve had a pretty lovely start to my day, with pancakes, squeezed into the schedule before the male members of the family departed, to a cold, wet morning of junior footy.  I’m pretty lucky, and I know it.

The photo above is misleading, because I took it a while ago, and it has nothing to do with today.  I gave Luke the “Country Women’s Association Classics” cookbook, for our 14th anniversary last month, and he and the kids have been rewarding me with delicious fare ever since.  That tasty morsel (actually rather large morsel) is a home made Monte Carlo biscuit.  The favourite so far has been the Lime cake (pg 379) which we have had a few times, thanks  to the gift of some home grown limes from my friend Kym, who also gave me the beautiful roses.

Self portrait of me

This is a little sketch of me that I drew yesterday for something that I am working on.  Usually I draw from life, or by looking at photos that I have taken, but with this one, I “cheated” as I had a photo on a layer underneath my drawing.  I wanted to be quick.  Even with that help, it is hard to get facial expressions right – I’m still not sure about those lips.

Pencil self portrait

This one is a drawing that I did a few days ago, which I was going to use, before I got too lazy about unearthing the scanner.

I find it much easier to work with pencil, because the shading adds so much detail, but when I need line drawings for things like embroidery patterns, I have to find a way to distill the details.

Usually I make a pencil sketch, scan it into Photoshop, transfer it into Illustrator, and redraw over the top of it with my handy pen/tablet.  I’m getting faster at this step, but the pen/tablet still feels nothing like drawing on paper.  The best thing about it is the way you can scale your images.  I love to make very small sketches, but I can make them much larger, and add more detail if I need to.

How often do you draw?

Sleepy Koalas – My baby boy fabric

Koala fabric - entry for Project Selvage 2011

This is the fabric design that I entered into Project Selvage.  Entry details called for a fabric designed for baby boys, which had to be “in repeat”.  To give you some idea of scale, in my design, each Koala is about 2″ high.  When I last looked, a couple of days ago, there were over 600 entries.  I am not sure how many entries, in total, were received before the competition closed on Friday (my time).

Sleepy Koalas, my project selvage entry

Once you had submitted your design, you could browse through the other submissions, and while there was a lot of stuff I would not pick, amongst the huge number of entries, there were plenty of really talented designers, with very strong contenders.  Most of the entries would be suitable for boys, but I think quite a few would not be suitable for baby boys – I think the second is harder to achieve than the first.

detail of koala fabric for Project Selvage 2011, showing Southern Cross

Somehow, this week, the judges will have to narrow it down to 75 semi-finalists which is going to be tricky.  I think it will be quite an achievement to still be in the competition next week.  I am crossing my fingers that I get chosen, but realistically I know the odds are not fantastic.  If I make it thorough, you can be sure that I will be calling on you all to vote!

Did you enter Project Selvage?  Would my fabric be something you would be likely to buy for a baby boy project?

Simmering along

Star Quilting

I seem to have a lot on the go at the moment, lots of pots simmering, but nothing ready cooked.

I am quilting another Fairy Tale Star Quilt, this time made by my Mother.  When I finished the first one, I still had lots of fabric left, so I passed them, and my hastily-scribbled-up pattern on to Mum, who has remade it with a few more fabrics, and an extra border.

Curly scroll quilting

Together we are making this for my cousin’s new baby girl in the USA.  I am really happy with the curly-scroll quilting around the edges of the pieced stars.

Teacher Thank You

I have also been making another “Teacher Thank You”, prepping it for stitching.  I know it is a funny time to start one of these, being the very start of the academic year, but this time I am making it up again to write up the pattern.  Each time I have made it, I have tweaked it further, and this time I am writing down all the colours I am using, both for the pencils and for the embroidery floss.  This time I hope to make it with plenty of time to photograph it for a pattern cover!

Monster Chef Pattern Writing

Monster Chef is another project on the boil.  I have written a first draft of the pattern, and have purchased some more fabrics to make up some more monster friends.  I still have to draw up some diagrams, and I will make copious notes on the draft as I make more of these guys, but I hope to have the pattern ready for some volunteer testers soon.

Speaking of making creatures – check out the fabulous “Elements of Soft Toy Design” over at While She NapsNumber 13 in the series has blown my mind!

What have you got simmering along?

Easter Chick


Yesterday the compulsion overcame me to make a little Easter chick.  He may be a little misshapen, but I think I like him.

Of course Easter here does not take place during spring, so I made him in what I think of as Autumnal colours.


You can see here the original sketches I drew when conceiving my chick – those ones at the top are the chick I decided to mould into reality.  For the first time I designed a little softie with a gusset (not sure if that is the right word for it, anyhoo) in the bottom to make him more 3D and give him a base to sit on.  Luckily I made it the right size, first go, but not perhaps the right shape, hence the misshapen appearance.  You can see how I pinned it to sew it on – the green pins represent the section I am not sewing up – the gap for stuffing the chick.  I often colour code my pins this way to indicate where I want to start or stop sewing.


I am really pleased with the beak I designed, it worked out just as I had hoped.  You can see the little paper pattern pieces that show the two shapes I put together to create it.  I think I will be finding more ways to incorporate beaks into my work in the future.

Now you can have a look at the element that just didn’t work……….


Giant felt wings.

They overwhelmed the poor thing and caused him to rock backwards off his base.  They just had to go.


Now, with smaller, more practical wings, he is gadding about all over the place, enjoying the warm Autumn sunshine that Melbourne turns on so well.  In case you think he is the only cute creature round here – here is a piccy, taken today, of our little Lotta, who seems to have doubled in size since we got her.


Can you take any more cute?  You will have to – here is a drawing Michaela (3 1/2 years old) drew two days ago.


She calls it Mr Potato.

Have a wonderful Easter, with those who are dear to you.

New Sketchbook


A couple of days ago I started a new sketchbook, having  just filled the last one.  I think I was revisiting my school days to decorate the first page like this – I did this sort of thing all the time.  I decorated my compulsory school homework diary, so that each week had a different visual theme.  Oh the hours I spent with the derwents and my diaries.  I think I even have them somewhere.

Here is a page from the last sketchbook, featuring some flowers we shall call “pincushion flowers”.


Keeping a sketchbook or visual diary was a discipline of my University days – a required part of the life drawing component of the design degree.  It is a great idea, your drawing certainly improves with practice.  These days my sketch book is filled with little idea drawings and little creatures, rather than life drawings.  I don’t get to sketch daily (perhaps I should) but I often sit down for 15 minutes of drawing time with the kids, sometimes more if I am lucky.

The first couple of little people in my new sketchbook are inspired by The Duchess which we watched the other night – the hair, oh the hair!


They don’t look at all like the actors – but I wasn’t really trying, just enjoying putting pencil to paper.  I enjoy drawing for me, not striving to recreate life as accurately as possible.

Do you have a sketchbook?  What do you draw?  How often?

Still Crazy Round Here

This is a photo of my siblings and I, circa 1981.  That cute baby is my little sister Alison, who had a birthday on Monday.  We were too busy celebrating for me to write a post, and now I am too crazy busy, getting ready for our big holiday to write her the post she deserves.  Happy Birthday Alison, I love you.

We are all looking forward to sunny Queensland.  The kids are almost jumping out of their skins with the thought of flying on a plane.  Here is something that is tantalizingly, almost finished, but will not be coming on the plane – too big.

I just need to finish hand sewing on the binding, which will have to wait until we are back.

Something I will finish before I set off, is a flyer for a Christmas Carnival that I have been designing for my Church.

Here is a little Gingerbread Angel that features on it. I had lots of fun drawing up this one.

I got the latest issue of Homespun in the mail today.  On page 6, right at the bottom, where the editor talks about next month’s issue is a very interesting sentence about a newcomer to pattern design.  Me.

A quilt I designed for Rory, 4 years ago, is featured in December’s Kids Issue.  You will have to wait until next month to see what it is though.

I had hoped to have some patterns ready to sell by the time the quilt was published, but time has gotten away from me.  One day I hope to write up some patterns for the things I make, but not this week.  I have some serious relaxing to do.

I’ll be back in a week and a half.

Teapots and Haircuts

I have a small collection of teapots on my kitchen windowsill.  There are 3 (I said it was small).  I have been drawing them for my mug-bag design, and now I am drawing them up neatly in Illustrator, so much fun, (the pencil part more than the computer part).

The design is most likely to feature this bamboo handled one, as well as one of my butterflies and a cherry blossom.  I think I will start cutting out paper copies of these drawings at different scales to work out where I am going with this.  I just wish I had a super-teacher to teach me how to use the parts of Illustrator that I need to use.  I keep thinking in a tech drawing, auto cad kind of way when I am using it, and it is the wrong way to approach it.

Here are adorable photos of two of my kids.  It’s my blog, and I like to admire my handiwork – I just gave them both a haircut.

Michaela is going through a skirts and dresses phase, hense the skirt and pants look.  I cut her hair to angle in at the back.

I am no hairdresser, but I think I did OK.

Rory told me a minute before I took that shot that he would only pose if he didn’t have to smile.

I love my son so much that I took both he and Amelia to see Star Wars, The Clone Wars this afternoon.  I almost fell asleep.  Next week we are going to see Wall-E, which I am really looking forward to.  Tomorrow I am taking Amelia to have her ears pierced – so I will probably be posting her new look tomorrow.

The Friday Archive

The Friday Archives Banner

As regular readers know, Friday is the day to dip into the past, but today I am going to show you a piece of design that is not my work, but is from our family photo archive.  A few people I know have just had, or are going to have babies.  This is the best piece of baby related gear that we purchased, hands down, so we now have three!  It is a fabulous piece of design.

Baby Amelia in the Tripp Trapp by Stokke

This is our eldest daughter Amelia, at 5 1/2 months in January 2001, sitting in the Tripp Trapp highchair by Stokke, a firm from the Netherlands, (the second link takes you to the USA/Canadian site, as it is in English, but the first link shows the chair as it is sold here even though the text is Dutch.  There seems to be a different baby rail sold in the US, which is not as elegant).  Back when we purchased this, they were not sold in Australia, and I think it was my first ever Internet purchase, through a New Zealand importing firm.  A very dear friend had one that her in laws had purchased in Europe, and I thought it was worth tracking down.

An older Amelia on her Tripp Trapp

As you can see, unlike other Highchairs, the Tripp Trapp adjusts from being suitable for a baby right through to an adult.  What you can’t see in this picture is that the baby rail at the front comes off, and the chair seat interchanges with one that does not have a strap.  For an adult, the larger footrest becomes the seat.  At almost 8, Amelia still benefits from that little bit of extra height to sit comfortably at the table.

Now here is what I was doing (with the kids) yesterday.

Sketch Family

I was actually drawing Teddy bears, when Amelia got our her drawings of possible doll faces.  We were talking about proportion again, and how eyes are actually across the middle of a face, and not near the top.  Before I knew it, look who had appeared. Along with various stylized Michaela’s along the bottom, there is one of each of us, (I had to get out a photo to add Luke and I).

Here is a page of Teddies.

Sketch bears

Here is another current project in the works, yet another scarf.

Bamboozle Scarf

This one is quite narrow as it is to adorn a pretty little neck – Michaela’s.  It is made with Bamboozle yarn which is 70% Bamboo and 30% Cotton, so it is super soft and light.  As usual, it was the colour that caught my eye, yet another variegated yarn, in such beautiful fruity tones.  I also have some put aside for me :-).

Lastly this is Michaela’s handiwork.  Inspired by a large creation the bigger kids made, she presented this to me – her first castle – and asked me to take a picture.Michaela\'s Lego Castle

Have great weekend everyone, more regular posting will resume again next week when term starts again.