My quilting thoughts and inspirations sprinkled with a glimpse of life down on the farm

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

It's all about Apples

I'm not quite sure why, but I have this urge to write a post about apples! I know this is a quilting blog but my heading does say "sprinkled with a glimpse of life down on the farm" so perhaps I'll get away with it?!
Admittedly, I have been immersed in apples lately as the trees we planted a few years ago are getting more and more prolific.
I have just realised what a comfort fruit they are - other fruits come and go, sweet juicy peaches, plums, nectarines shine for a few weeks - we feast on them to the point of gluttony, but then they are gone for another year.
But Apples! They last and last... with a variety of trees they seem to go on for months.
Apples connect me to my past and my family. Many a childhood hour was spent around the kitchen table peeling bucket after bucket of apples - us kids and Dad peeling while Mum cored and sliced and cooked. Dad instigated "longest peel" contests and regularly told Mum to make sure there were no 'toe-nails' left in the stewed fruit ... you know those tiny bits of core that when they cook up feel like toe nails in your mouth (not that I've ever had toenails in my mouth but it's a good analogy). These apparently were common in Dad's boarding school days but happily it's a while since I've found a toenail in my stewed fruit.
Once Dad stopped milking cows fulltime and sort of retired, he spent the last 30 years of his life planting, growing, pruning and harvesting fruit (and nut) trees, adding to the orchard that his father had planted.
Part of Dad's orchard - all fruit and nut trees.
Homegrown fruit seems to have always been part of my life and apples have been the backbone.
And so lately it has been a comforting time, peeling, cooking and bottling. Making desserts (and cakes and muffins) with apples.
 You cant beat it!
Do you have a comfort fruit?
I"m not the only one liking apples.
So there, I've got this out of my system! Thank you for letting me indulge myself.
Normal crafting transmission will resume soon :-)
Have a great day!
Happy stitching,

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Some practise and a finish or two

When I looked at my to-do list at the start of the week, I wasn't sure how much of it I would get done, given that I had limited sewing time; however I came up with a clever idea and managed to kill two birds with one stone.
I wanted to do a little more practise of the scroll flower motif which Amy has introduced for this month's free motion Monday.  And I also wanted to make my ED a cushion as part of her birthday present this week.
Yep, you've got it, ED has a cushion with Amy's scroll flower on it!
First of all, a small amount of applique.....
then some quilting.......
Most of the photos have been taken at night and the colour is a bit
washed out. This is pretty close to the true colour.
It was good to have a project to work on, rather than just random quilt sandwiches. I like this scroll flower design; I used a lot of echoing to change direction and get out of corners. I think the echoing adds to the design.

I did this on my Bernina as my big machine is all set up with a quilt for the MOML.
— ta-da! One completed cushion!
ED and some friends came around for a birthday tea last night; during dessert I was able to grab a few moments to sew the last of the binding down.... it was a great way to get out of dessert duties (oh the joy of having adult children :-))... and in spite of a bit of guessing, I was able to keep what I was making a secret until handover :-)
Simple back with a splash of colour.
Another little giftie thing I completed earlier in the week is this little hanging, which I made for a friend. I used the spool pattern *here* on Edyta Sitar's Laundry Basket Quilts blog. It is an easy way to make the spools, starting with 5 equal sized squares which you cut up then sew back together (of course!)!
Always interesting, isn't it, to think, that it took 5 x 2inch squares to make
one 2.5inch block!!
I have been inspired by the Grinch and am trying to have a handmade (made with love) element in all my gift giving this year. I've got to the end of April and have managed so far, which is a good start, just need to keep it up...!!
The weather is certainly telling us that it is Autumn this morning, I think I am going to have to find some warmer clothes. Once the clouds burn off though, the day will likely warm up and we will be peeling off the layers! Maybe I could also warm up now with a bit of activity in the kitchen, and finish cleaning up after last night's dinner party :-)  (One drawback of dishwashers that you cant get all the dishes done at once - I wouldn't have it any other way though!)
Have a good day everyone,
Happy stitching and thank you for visiting,

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Big Weekend and a Small Quilt!

I baked for the girls - but they didn't eat a crumb......

I went on retreat - but I stayed at home.....

My little online quilting group have just had a Skype version of a quilting retreat! We chose a quilt from a book we all have, warned our families, and got sewing!
It was so much fun! Time zones only got in the way a little and we seemed to sew our way through them :-)
This is the little quilt we chose to do —
It is Square Dance, by Lori Smith, out of her book Fat Quarter Quilting. It finishes at 16" x 20".
It was fun to do as it had the mix of piecing and applique... its size meant we mostly got to the quilting and binding stage by the end of the weekend.

A couple of posts ago, I asked if anyone had any great tips on invisible machine applique.... this quilt was a good practise for me; I worked hard at getting it as invisible as I could and have finally realised you cant have it totally invisible - I think the look I was striving for doesn't exist!! However I am happy with it and will write a little more about it in another post another day :-)
This was the first time I have used a wool:poly batting mix and I am quite pleased with it. (60/40 from Matilda's Own). It has a lovely puff and it also has a beautiful weight and feel. Dense quilting wasn't needed (which was good as the weekend was over!). I'm hooked! (And it kept my lap warm while sewing on the binding too!).
Thank you girls for your company!! Joanne shows her quilt here, and Wendy's is here.  We chatted with Joan too but she wasn't sewing the same little quilt.

I put the last few stitches in this block last night, my third from the Quiltmania mystery from last year. (Halfway there!)

Do you rememer the VW van I pattern tested a few blogposts back? Juliet now has it on her Craftsy site so if you loved it, you can now make your own!! It was fun to make.
Apologies to those of you whom I haven't answered after my last post, I hope to catch up soon. (Been busy sewing!)
Have a lovely day, happy stitching,

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Irene and FMQing

A quick little Hello to start the weekend with; hasn't the week flown by fast?! I've had a little sewing time, and completed month /row 4 of Goodnight Irene.
I am loving doing this so much - simple and straight forward; I've tried doing it as a Leader -Ender project, but once I pull it out, I'm hooked!
I've also added an extra block at the end of each row to make it a little wider.. now to decide whether it looks lopsided or not - do you think I should make it more balanced by having each row start and finish with a cross block or 16-patch?
This photo is a little dull, while it's not going to be a bright quilt, it's
definitely brighter than this photo shows!
Thank you Terry, once again, for hosting this sewalong, I am really enjoying it. To see the variety of quilts everyone is making, click *here*... Terry has put the link-up on her sidebar which I think is a brilliant idea as it doesn't get lost in amongst her posts!

I squeezed in a little free motion quilting this week. Amy, from Amy's Free Motion Quilting Adventures has started free motion quiltalong Mondays, designed to help us with our fmq-ing skills. At the start of the month she introduces a quilting design. The idea is we have the month to play with it and improve it. Last month was McTavishing which I was a bit slow to join up with.
This month's is a Scroll Flower —
Of course the first step is to get your tension right!! ...
...then you can play!
This was fun. You can see the scroll shape in the centre of the flower - then
a round of petals, then echo the petals once.
Then branch out and make another scroll...and so on.
This is my first attempt at it, I look forward to playing some more and mastering it fully :-) like not getting caught in a corner, keeping my petals nice and round, playing with variations and so on!
Amy gives very clear instructions and a video *here* on her blog, so visit her if you want to have a play too.

I've had such a lot of fun with my free motion quilting that when I had the opportunity, I decided to get myself an HQ Sweet Sixteen. How exciting!!
Nigel was the first one to have a play....
....But then I quilted my first quilt, Paintbox, on it - oh joy!
The Sweet 16s are a sit down machine with the machine facing you straight on; you still move the fabric around, just like you do with standard machine fmqing. There is a lot more room and other bells and whistles. I'm still mastering it, but am thoroughly enjoying it so far!! Here's to lots more adventures :-)
I have some sewing with friends planned for this weekend, so must get myself organised..... have a great weekend,
Happy sewing, and thank you for visiting,

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Saturday Sewing

Aren't weekends lovely? The rhythm of the farm keeps on, no matter what day of the week it is but there is still a slight change of pace which indicates a bit of down time.
I spent Saturday morning working in the garden, a little bit of rain has made the soil friable and weeding is a pleasure, as is tidying up bushes and planning new plantings :-)
Then it was some sewing time, and I caught up with a few pieced  Pieces of Time blocks I was behind on. This quilt is one my online sewing group is doing as a BOM; one pieced and one applique block a month. We started at the beginning of last year so it is definitely a long-term process!! Nice to see some progress though! This is where I am at so far with the pieced blocks —
14 pieced blocks completed - yaay!
 Here's a slightly closer look at them all. The blocks finish at 7 1/2" so vary in their fiddliness!

I'm sure you can pick out the one I am going to re-do; however I will wait till all the blocks are done before doing this, in case, by some miracle it works after all!! (That blue is actually a fine stripe which I thought might read a bit lighter than it has).
Here is what we are aiming for - isn't it beautiful? —
Photo from Lori Smith's website,
From My Heart To Your Hands.
So my goal for the next little while is to catch up with the applique blocks. I am doing these by invisible machine applique and am still experimenting with this - freezer paper or washaway, which threads and getting my stitch right. Maybe I'm being too fussy, but I do need to sort myself out!! Any tips?

I also want to spread the word about another blog. Karen of karensquiltscrowscardinals has launched a pattern design company and is having a giveaway to celebrate. Karen has designed some gorgeous applique patterns and has posted some awesome tutorials on her blog over the last few months (or more). She has some free patterns available and the giveaway is a great one.
*Here* is the link for the giveaway post. The giveaway closes Monday so head on over for a look!

Daylight Saving ended last night so I'm feeling bright-eyed and bushy tailed... seems like another productive day may be in the pipeline :-)
Happy weekend stitching and thank you for visiting,

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bits and Bobs

There's been a few different things going on since last time I posted; first of all, the mailmen have done their duty and delivered some postcards. Linda, of SCRAPMASTER blog and I took part in a swap organised by Sheila. I've taken part in these before and it is always fun to see what ideas everyone comes up with. The theme for this swap was Spring, which is something I'm not dreaming of right now - I'm appreciating the (slightly) cooler weather that comes with Autumn on this side of the world. (Besides, Spring for me means lots of newborn calves and work which I'm definitely not ready for yet!).
However I did really appreciate and love the card sent by Linda - isn't it lovely? Thank you Linda :-)
Linda has edged her card with a decorative machine stitch - I hadn't
thought of doing that.
And here is the one I sent to her —

The Whangarei Patchworkers and Quilters Guild had their biennial exhibition last weekend. This great example of quilt bombing greeted us as we entered the carpark!
Great advertising! Isn't it cool - apparently this cover was borrowed from
another guild.
Thanks to Leeanne of Quiltmekiwi for sharing this photo with me :-)
I went along for a day as part of the The Country Yard - we had a booth set up so I didn't get to have a huge look at all the quilts. However there are the ones that were opposite our booth - a nice variety to gaze at in the quiet moments!
I just took the one photo of the rest of the quilts - this is the one I would have voted for viewer's choice if I'd been able to.
Flower Garden By Jeannette Monaghan.
Quilted by John Nielsen.
A Piece of Cake design.
Photos from the exhibition have been popping up on other local blogs this week. Here are some links if you would like to see what Northland, New Zealand quilters get up to —
Leeann from Quilt Whangarei (several posts)
Leeanne from quiltmekiwi
Ms Lottie from theslightlymadquiltlady
Susan from Kamo Lady

Many of you will know I love trying out new things. I've been spending my evenings this week stitching these leaves —
They are so cool to do, an adaptation of doing buttonhole stitch in a
I found the tutorial here on Karen's faeriesandfibres blog. This is a relatively new blog to me and it is so full of interesting quilty-ness and crafty-ness that I am enjoying my visits there.
Karen is currently celebrating her first blog anniversary - click here if you'd like to know more and would like to go in the draw for some fabulous prizes.
(Now you mustn't ask me about the new project I seem to be working on in the above photo, although if you visit Karen's blog, I'm sure you'll get some idea... I'm working on the premise that if I don't talk about it in blogland, it doesn't exist...gulp!!)

Ok, time to get off the computer and plant this rose bush I bought the other day :-)
Happy stitching and thank you for visiting,