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New iphone5 with Gelaskins
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.
Beautiful iphone Gelaskins (art by Van Gogh)
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).
Rose from my Mother's garden
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!Purchases from AQC
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 latest haircut
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.
New, homemade, a-line skirt
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.
Melbourne Autumn Sunset
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.
"Hope is a thing of Feathers" stitchery by Matching Pegs
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!


New applique designs

Feather Applique designed by Matching PegsI’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.
Super simple drawstring backpack, with feather applique.  Designed by Matching Pegs
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.
Ingredients to make a backpack with a pixelated rocket applique.
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.Finally I have cut out the pieces to make a skirt
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?

Birthday Gifts

Arden's Birthday GiftsOn 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.
This simple backpack is lined
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.
Applique of Arden's name
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.
"A" shirt
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.
Arden, 11 months
Happy Birthday little man, many happy returns.

Do you have a favourite gift to make for really little recipients?

Trauma and Stress

Tiny Robot fabric
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.
Tiny Robot Fabric
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.
Hope is a thing of Feathers by Matching Pegs WIP
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.

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?


A New Hope

My new stitchery - the stitching has startedTa-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.Stitching has started on my new stitchery.  Chain stitch and Straight stitch

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.

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.

School Crafting

Back to School 2013Do you ever feel like you are running on the spot; in a frantic hurry, but not getting anywhere?  The past week has felt a little like that, but exciting at the same time.  All the kids started school for 2013, last Thursday, but for Amelia it was a really big day, as her first day of High School.  There has been lots to learn, remember and experience, and not just for her, but the rest of us as well.  Our routines have had to change to accommodate the earlier departure for her in the morning, and the fact that she is now catching a public bus and heading in the opposite direction (literally) from her siblings.Personalising Amelia's art apronThere has been a bit of back-to-school crafting going on to prepare for High School.  Amelia chose a fabric and font to monogram her standard issue art apron, which is a serviceable, but uninspiring grey.  We are both pretty happy with it.Quick Drawstring backpack sports bag

I whipped up a quick drawstring backpack to hold Amelia’s sports gear, complete with lovely, neat french seams, (just like Michaela’s dance bag which you can see here).  We decided to use some fabric that Amelia has been saving, featuring the motif-of-the-moment, feathers.  Feathers seem to be everywhere on Pinterest, and seem to be the next step from putting-a-bird-on-it.  I must admit to being a fan of them myself (pun intended).

Amelia is not allowed to wear her sports uniform to school, but has to get changed just for those lessons, so this bag will spend most of its time inside her larger school bag.  I am thinking of writing a simple pattern for this bag, (probably as part of a 3-in-1 pattern containing other designs as well) and I was wondering how many other kids have the same rules?  Would you be inclined to make a bag like this for your child for sport, dance, martial arts or sleepovers?

Stitching on the Seashore

Hand Piecing my "Wheel of Fortune" Quilt, on the beach

For the past week, the Matching Pegs family enjoyed one of the most relaxing holidays we have even had, (post kids).  We stayed in a luxury cabin here, and the kids took advantage of every activity/facility on offer in the park.  Every morning at 9am the kids disappeared for a while to enjoy some craft, while Luke and I sat and enjoyed a cuppa and each-others company.  We had several forays to different beaches, and other local attractions, but mostly I was pretty passive, sitting and reading, or stitching additional diamonds to my “Wheel Of Fortune Quilt”, while watching the rest of my family in more active pursuits.

In the lead up to our departure, I had 3 days in bed with fevers and chills, brought about by tonsillitis, and while I felt a lot better by the time we departed, I was still very tired, so lolling about was just the recuperation that I needed.  It was an added bonus that the bed in our cabin was the best I have ever slept in, away from home.Lego Nicholson Street

Prior to the holiday, while I was huddled in bed, I missed a long anticipated event, the “Lego Brickvention“.  The rest of the family (and my BIL who used my ticket) went along, and Rory took over 400 photos to share the event with Elvis Helitanker

I was most impressed with the Lego replica of the Erickson S-64 Air-Crane helicopter,(Helitanker) nicknamed “Elvis” which is used to fight fires, (water-bombing) each fire season here in Victoria, and for obvious reasons is held in great affection by the people who live here.

At the end of this week, the kids start the school year.  This week will be taken up with getting-ready-for-school activities, and next week I will return to my usual crafting adventures.

Do you ever sew on the beach, or am I the only one to combine such diverse activities?

Crafty Afternoon

Sock Puppet made by MichaelaYesterday we had a crafty afternoon at our place, with 8 kids and three adults.  I was having so much fun that it didn’t occur to me to document it with a camera, but you can see what Michaela made (with a little bit of help).  There was a lot of crafting with felt, which is a pretty perfect medium for kids to work with, because it doesn’t fray and can be easily hand stitched.   There was also a little bit of crochet, embroidery, and t-shirt altering, (using my nifty tutorial).Ugg Boot Repair with a felt heartThe previous evening I had done some felt crafting of my own.  While it was as seasonally inappropriate as my previous post, I decided to take the time to repair the toe hole in my Ugg boots because I actually have time for little jobs like this in the summer holidays.  The hole was in the boot you can see on the left, and I decided to match the heart on the other toe, because it too was wearing thin.Ugg Boot repair with a felt heart - up close.

I used some quite thick felt that I had, and some ordinary sewing machine thread.  As simple as it looks to sew, it was actually a little tricky, as the sheepskin is difficult to pierce, and the sole tends to get in the way as you sew close to it.  I used a thimble on both hands (one inside the boot).  I am not sure how durable my repair will be, but I figured that trying to repair them was better than wearing Uggs with holes in them.

What is the strangest repair that you have made?