I’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.
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?
I have created very little recently, but this is one ‘finish’ that I managed. This baby top is made of a lovely wool/cotton blend, that felt so soft and warm, but it was crying out for a simple embellishment. I needle-turn-appliqued on the heart. The coordinating pants have a very sweet little ruffle across the bum. The baby is yet to arrive, but I finished these for the baby shower, which was a festival of pink, and sugar, and a lot of fun.
I had a quiet Mother’s day, with a morning at home, and an afternoon with the rest of my family, at my parents. The kids all gave me lovely presents, with special mention going to Amelia, who put in a lot of work on her hand-crafted Tardis, (a vehicle for chocolate delivery).
The kids have recently been introduced to the viewing pleasure of Dr Who, and love to watch it in their ‘Grandma-made’ beanbags, under their ‘Mum-made’ quilts.
In completely unrelated news, our new Dyson DC29 vacuum cleaner arrived this morning, and it will never look this clean again!
James Dyson has impressed me from the beginning. I remember discussing him whilst studying for my Industrial Design degree, and the way he doggedly worked at perfecting his design, when no one was interested in funding him. Luke and I were very early adopters, purchasing a DC02 as poor newlyweds, straight out of Uni. It was a pretty big financial decision at the time.
Our old machine happened to be a funky looking ‘DeStijl” model, inspired by the Dutch artistic movement of the early 20th century. By far the best thing about it was that it enabled me to manage my allergy to dust mites, as I could vacuum them out of our soft furnishings, without sneezing myself silly at the same time.
Dyson have now decided to stop manufacturing the replaceable filters for these early machines, but have impressed me again, this time with their service, and commitment to the environment. Because we can no longer buy the filters, they traded in our old machine, for $200 off a new one, and an automatic 5 year warranty, instead of the usual 2 years. We posted off the old one (reply payed by Dyson) to Sydney, where it will be taken apart for recycling. If you own a DC01 or DC02, you can read more about it here. Dyson vacuums are a great reminder that good Industrial design is about function and beauty, and can be found in all kinds of ordinary objects.
Finally, the beauty of nature, Melbourne’s beloved Yarra river, “the river that runs upside down”. Mum and I took a quick fortifying walk along it’s banks yesterday afternoon, as the sun was actually shining and it had been a particularly hard day. It really lifted our spirits. It has been a favourite place in my family, since I was a small child, and occasionally, (if you are quiet, and lucky) you can spot a platypus or two.
I’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…
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.
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.
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?
So I’ve just joined 2013 and upgraded to an iphone, and being the visual person that I am, one of the most exciting parts of getting this new technology, was decorating it with some beautiful Gelaskins and matching screen wallpaper.
It was a tough choice, but I went with “Almond Branches in Bloom” by Van Gogh, (I may even have put on matching nail polish to take this photo).
This technological development means that I have become the latest in a long line of bloggers to discover Instagram, now that I can take such lovely photos with my iphone. I’m not sure how much time I’ll be on there, but a fellow blogger I caught up with at the Australasian Quilt Convention tells me that “this is where all the bloggers are at these days”. You can find me on Instagram snapping away as “matchingpegs”, I have all of 6 photos so far!
These are the modest purchases I made at the AQC, I was pretty restrained, because I used it as time to catch up with fellow creative types, rather than a serious purchasing frenzy.
My new iphone makes it so easy to take narcissistic selfies. This is the photo I shared with all of Facebook to indicate that after 5 months I had finally had my hair cut.
And this one was to show that I had finally finished making a new a-line skirt, (Pattern by NIkki of You Sew Girl) the one that took me all 2 weeks of the school holidays to cut out.
To balance out this narcissism, I’ve also taken a few shots of the magnificence of Autumn in Melbourne. I took this one on my front lawn on Anzac day, which was suitable (at the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them).
Last night I finished the last of the stitching on my “Hope is a thing of feathers” and now I just have to find some coordinating fabric to put some borders on it. It might be tricky, especially if I decide to hold out until I find a pale, dusty purple, which is not an easy colour to match.
I just love the way the filters on Instagram really make the coloured thread I have used come alive.
I have already shared some of these photos on Facebook. If you spend a bit of time over there, perhaps you would like to follow me, you can find a little link for Matching Pegs on Facebook and Pinterest, over in the right hand column. On Instagram, I’m “matchingpegs”. Come find me!
I’m still here, but boy the school holidays sure slow my creative output to a trickle.
I’m still not over my fascination with feathers, and so here is a little fusible applique I have designed, which I have put onto yet another super simple drawstring backpack.
These bags are so quick to whip up, with 50cms (or 1/2 yard) of fabric and some herringbone tape (also called cotton ribbon, or twill tape) or grosgrain ribbon. A pattern will be forthcoming soon, but I am working on a range of appliques to go with the construction instructions.
This is my space invader inspired, pixelated rocket. It’s quite tough to come up with motifs that are not too young, because I think that this bag is perfect for an older child, especially those that have to carry their sports uniforms to school to get changed.
In other creative news, I have taken the entire school holidays to cut out one simple A-line skirt. I’m using Nikki’s fabulous You Sew Girl pattern, and have high hopes for a successful garment on completion. It is not really surprising that it has taken so long, I have been busy with holiday trips to the Zoo, multiple parks, IMAX (to see Flight of the Butterflies in 3D, which was great) the swimming pool, and various friend’s houses.
Frankly, I’m impressed that I have made it through these school holidays with my sanity and good humor intact, given that I have a lot of stressful things that are happening in the background, and school holidays mean I am never on my own. I am more than a little keen to get back into the routine of the school term, but I have enjoyed some very lovely days with the kids. What about you, how do you cope with that never-on-your-own feeling?
On Wednesday my nephew turned 1. Happy Birthday Arden! Here are the gifts that I put together for him, (I had to wait until they had been received, before I shared them). The bag is a simple drawstring backpack that I have made, for taking his change of clothes etc. to childcare twice a week.
Unlike the previous backpacks that I have made, I have lined this one with ‘ripstop’, which should make it better able to cope with wet or dirty gear.
I loved working with this adorable robot fabric that I have been hoarding for years, and enjoyed adding his distinctive name in a matching spotty red. Along with the backpack, we gave Arden the “chubby” cars, which are just like an old one that we have at our house that he loves to play with. The kids were so excited when were able to track down the same kind of car.
We included a pair of ever practical overalls, perfect for crawling babies whose pants fall down, and a lovely, green long-sleeved tee. As you can see above, I added an applique “A” to the front, which I needle-turned in place. It felt so good to return to needle-turn applique, my favourite kind.
Happy Birthday little man, many happy returns.
Do you have a favourite gift to make for really little recipients?
It has been two weeks since I last posted. Two weeks of trauma and stress and upheaval for my family of origin. The trauma that I have been dealing with is not one that I want to talk about here, except to say that it has had me so upset and heartbroken that I have not been able to even look at anything crafty or creative. That is why I have been absent from Matching Pegs. Today I have taken a tiny little step toward making something, and that something is inspired by these adorable little robots. This fabric has been part of my stash for years, a hoarded treasure waiting for exactly this project.
Crafting is generally my therapy, and it gets me through most of the average stresses of life, but it is hard to craft when you feel anxious and helpless. When I am too upset to craft, I turn to reading. I love to read anyway, but I make sure that I have something to read in the evenings that is escapist (but not trashy) so that I will not spend hours tossing and turning with worry before going to sleep. I read so that I can fall asleep thinking about the plot, and save my worrying for the waking hours. I have been continuing to work on my feather stitchery occasionally, and I’m pretty happy with how it is going. The message of hope on it is a good reminder, in a time when it is hard to be optimistic.
So this post is a step in the right direction for me, in an effort to care for myself, but the painful times are not over. I will be here in my “happy place” when I can, and when I am not tied up with being needed elsewhere. Thanks for being part of my happy place.
Life 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. Anita 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.Look 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.
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?
Ta-Da! I’m pretty impressed with my work so far on my new stitchery, and, as predicted, a large part of the delight is just in seeing how the colours turn out. I have chosen to work the central “Hope” in “Nutmeg – 304″ from the Cottage Garden Threads range. If you are interested in the colours available in this range, you can see them here. I brought all my threads from Erica at “Under the Mulberry Tree“, so if you are interested in the particular colours that I am using, I know they are in stock there.
I wanted a variety of line widths in this design, so I have worked the outline of “Hope” in chain stitch, which is a first for me. The “ladder rungs” in-between are just straight stitch, and I expect to be busting out the usual back stitch, in both a single thread and 2 threads as I work my way around the design. I predict there will be a fair amount of television and cups of tea consumed by the time I finish this, and I expect the weather will be much more suitable for evening stitching by the time the finish line is in sight. It feels faintly ridiculous to be stitching and sweltering.
Do you put away the cosy sorts of crafts while summer heat bears down on you?
*PS Geeks (like me) will recognise the title as the “first” of the Star Wars films, (number 4) which has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but it did make me smile.
I’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.
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).As 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.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.
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.