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?

Beautiful Threads (Collectors Club)

Cottage Garden Threads and a Feather stitchery designed by Matching Pegs
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).
"Hope is a thing with Feathers" stitchery pattern by Matching Pegs
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.
Detail of "Hope is a thing with Feathers" stitchery pattern by Matching Pegs
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?
Various colours of Cottage Garden Threads, and a stitchery designed by Matching Pegs
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.
Cottage Carden Threads, for "Matching Pegs March" of the CGT Collectors Club 2014
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).

Are you tempted?  Go on!

Cocoa Revolution

Cocoa RevolutionThis 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.
Wheel Of Fortune - 11th ring
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.
Auditioning Green Fabrics
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.
Quilt on the Ironing Board
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?

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?

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.

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!

Unfinished Angel, a race.

Unfinished angel at front, finished angel at back

I have an hour and twenty minutes to finish the Christmas Angel in the front of this picture for the music teacher.  I have a box of chocolates on standby.

Unfinished Angel and fabrics at right, finished sample at left.

As you can see from the finished example on the left, I am doing pretty well.  I may even make it!

The winner of the Junior Chef pattern is Jody.  Jody I will email you shortly, I just have to make a pair of wings and a tiny apron first…

For all the summer hemisphere folk, what are you doing for the teachers to mark the end of another school year?

Photography and Works in Progress

Close Up of "Mosaic Rose" a Matching Pegs Pattern

I have been waiting for a little sun to try and get some good cover photos, but got sick of waiting.  It is still overcast, but hopefully bright enough.  This is a close up of my “Mosaic Rose” cushion.  My aim was to show a close up of the needle-turn applique.  You can see the whole cushion here."All a Flutter" Cushion Pattern by Matching Pegs

I finished making this more traditional version of “All A Flutter” for the cover.  I like it, and Amelia has already bagsed* it for her bed, which is where this shot was taken.  The pattern cover will not have wrinkled sheets in shot!Works in Progress on my sewing table

I have several more samples in progress, and have been sewing every evening, when I am too tired to write or draw diagrams.

Happy sewing everyone, I’m getting back to it…

* To “Bags” something: Aussie and Kiwi slang for reserving something, similar to calling “dibs”.

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?